Sunday, June 14, 2009

All Saints Sisters of the Poor in Catonsville, Maryland Depart for Rome

By email:

On Thursday, 3 September
in the Year of Our Lord 2009
a Very Special Mass
will be Celebrated
in the Chapel
of All Saints Convent
Catonsville, Maryland
with the Archbishop of Baltimore -
Edwin O'Brien - as the Chief Celebrant
During this Mass
all but two sisters will be received into full communion with the Holy See.

When I served as a parish priest in Maryland I used to frequent the Chapel of the All Saints Covent, glorious in its simplicity and reverence. Mass, Offices and Benediction were offered in the most sublime Anglican Catholic manner, in the traditional rite. The Convent in Catonsville was one of the very last orthodox Anglican religious communities in North America. My ministry in Maryland also afforded the opportunity to work closely with the Sisters at the Joseph Richey Hospice in downtown Baltimore, which was operated by the Sisters. Through that ministry I came to know and love the All Saints Sisters. A dear friend of mine in Maryland now departed this life, Father Harry Shelley, an oblate of the community, was aligned spiritually and sacerdotally with the Convent. Several other beloved priest friends over the years have been strong supporters of this rare and special community.

When I studied at Exeter College, University of Oxford in 1992, I had the wonderful privilege of befriending the great Father Peter Mayhew, an Australian priest who served as Chaplain to the All Saints Sisters in Oxford. The American Convent's move to Rome is a profound loss for the Anglican Tradition.

UPDATE: Names have been removed per private request.


Unknown said...

it will be interesting to see if Schori and co. will find a way to take their property from them in the name of the TEC.

Jay Scott Newman said...

Allow me to suggest a better headline for this story:

"All Saints Sisters of the Poor Depart for Rome"

The original version, "Defect to Rome", clearly implies a failure of fidelity on the part of the good Sisters, and while some observers may regard their decision to seek full communion with the Catholic Church as unfortunate or unnecessary, it seems to me that no Catholic Christian (including an Anglo-Catholic) could hold that their decision is an act of infidelity. In good conscience, these consecrated women have determined that it is precisely their fidelity to the Gospel which demands they take this step. Surely that cannot be a defect.

Hoosierpalian said...

Given some recent statements by Bishop Sutton of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, I would say that we are vitally concerned with keeping parishes open in inner city Baltimore. Taking property away from the All Saints Sisters of the Poor would be an extremely poor move on many fronts, but especially the financial. As an Episcopalian, I mourn their decision, but as a Christian hope that their new earthly shepherd will help them live more fully into their vocation. I am sorry to see the division in their community as well. In any case, I had been discerning whether I have the resources to become a donor to a men's order in the Episcopal Church, and this news does make my path ahead a bit clearer.

Anonymous said...

At least some of the Sisters had already chosen to be laicized and submitted to the Roman See well before this action was formalized and a date set for the reception of most of the remaining nuns.

worcester fragment said...

I applaud the above. If anyone has defected it is those who have departed from any shred of faithfulness to the Catholic faith, and made it impossible for faithful Christians in conscience to remain.

Frair John said...

Apparently, Mother Christina was under the impression that there would be an announcement made to the Associates and by the Arch Diocese.

All this leaking has caused much distress.

Anonymous said...

Will the sisters be allowed to continue a traditional religious life? Will the clergy who celebrate the Eucharist at the convent use the Tridentine rite?

Anonymous said...

Actually, I don't think TEC taking their property would be a bad thing. "Having nothing, as yet all things are possible." They have found a new spiritual home that has more than enough worldy resources to adequately provide for their mission. If they want to move in with a new husband, let the new husband take care of them.

Not that I think TEC "should" take their resources from them, but if they are really doing what God wants them to do, they will certainly be provided for by the church that is so happy to take them away from the Anglican Communion.

When I left the denomination I grew up in and loved, I had to leave a lot behind. "Take nothing with you," "pick up your cross and follow me."

Susan Woods said...

Although I was once a member of the community, I am no longer a Christian. Real spirituality is enriched by openness to many traditions that may find meaning in one's life at different times.

Nevertheless, I am saddened by the community's need to depart from its Episcopalian tradition, but see clearly their need for support by the larger mainstream of the Roman Catholic Church. It appears to be a time of need for spiritual kinship of beliefs, and a change that will draw more vocations into this dwindling monastic group.

It is rash to call this "defection"; obviously much thought and prayer has gone into this decision. The time has come to bend, or break. Writing 31 years later, even then, the need to bend was there - Too much insulation was feeding the illusion of absolute rightness and power. I wish you the best in this time of transition. It is not the time to judge you. It is your journey, and only you can make it.

Anonymous said...

I wish all the sisters good luck in their endeavor. Of course, historically, the property belongs to them and not the diocese. It cannot be taken from them by either Baltimore or Rome. My concern is that they may be in for some serious shocks at what they find on the other side of the Tiber. I defected to Rome about 3 years ago and do not regret it. It is all about their reasons for this change. If it is to attract more vocations, I doubt that this move will help them. Roman Catholic women are not choosing to be nuns.
If it is to run from women priests. It is inevitable that Rome to will eventually come to ordain women.
If they are concerned about gay bishops, they are jumping from the frying pan into the fire except it is all kept in the closet in Rome. Sadly they will move from being a treasured unique conclave of the
Anglican Church to just another dwindling convent of old ladies the Roman Church cannot afford to take care of. Now if they are moving over to Rome because they believe in the Real Presence and the historical one true Church and to be in unity with the original One True Church and desire no longer to be separated bretheren, oops sisteren, then perhaps that is reason enough. It will be interesting to see who they attract to their rather flamboyant services with all the fancy ancient manuvers and insistence on doilies on the head. Perhaps the Traditionalist Catholics will come out of curiosity, but the sisters had better learn Latin fast!

Carey said...

Welcome home!
(The former novice Mary Augustine)

Unknown said...

Roman Catholic women are not choosing to be nuns.

Actually, that is true of only the non-traditional orders, the traditional ones are booming.

Anonymous, as one who made a detour through the lands of Anglicanism and has since returned home, I have not encountered what you seem to hint at within the Catholic Church. It is rife with sinful, fallen human beings. But then, this being earth, what else can one expect. But the church is also the home of many, many who are doing the work to reach holiness. I pray you find friends who seek holiness too.

Fifteen years ago, I came to know and love the All Saints Sisters of the Poor, became convinced of their great desire for holiness. It is so lovely to welcome them home and to know that had I become one of them, I would have returned home anyway. I can't wait to visit them once again.

Ben Vallejo said...

Rome, Constantinople, and Moscow will never ordain women as priests and of course bishops. Anglicans should stop fantasising women's ordination is inevitable. They should revisit whether women's ordination has brought unity or division in their communion.

peskemom said...

My husband and I lived for 35 years in an innovative ( allowed for married couples ) Anglican Religious Order. 13 adults bound together, living in 3 adjacent properties with all things in common under the Bishop of the Diocese of San Joaquin. It was a time of many wonderful experiences. But the wider Communion was in spiritual chaos, there is not a less charitable way to say this. Those faithful who remain in TEC our hearts ache for. Those who have joined ACNA we cheer and pray for. But the ultimate issues which go all the way back to questions of ultimate authority will never be answered within the Synod-bishop model. My husband and I left our Order last November and have been received into the Roman Catholic church. Our joy knows no bounds. We rejoice with our newest Religious Sisters in Maryland. Welcome home!!

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