A group of 11 Anglican nuns who were received into the communion of the Catholic Church Jan. 1 were lauded for their response to “the Holy Father's summons to unity” at their Mass of reception.
“You have responded, generously and courageously,” Father Daniel
Seward, provost of the Oxford Oratory, told the U.K.-based sisters.
During his Jan. 1 homily on the feast of Mary, the Mother of God, he
said the nuns put themselves “at the service of Our Lord’s own prayer,”
that “'they should all be one' as He and the Father are one.'”
The sisters, who were members of the Anglican Community of St. Mary the
Virgin, received Confirmation at the Mass, held in the Oxford Oratory.
Together with Sister Carolyne Joseph, formerly of the Anglican Society
of St. Margaret at Walsingham, the twelve will form the Sisters of the
Blessed Virgin Mary.
“That may seem like a rather grandiose statement to make, and the Unity
of the Church may seem an ambitious project to entrust to a small
sisterhood. What can twelve women do? we might ask,” Fr. Seward said.
“We might have asked the same question about our Lord’s choice of
twelve rustics from Galilee as His apostles. In faithfulness to His
call, He can do great things in you.”
The Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary are part of the Ordinariate of
Our Lady of Walsingham. Ordinariates are an ecclesial structure Pope
Benedict allowed in his 2009 apostolic constitution “Anglicanorum
Coetibus.” They allow communities of Anglicans to enter the Catholic
Church while maintaining elements of the spiritual and liturgical
patrimony inherited from their Anglican tradition.
“We believe that the Holy Father’s offer is a prophetic gesture which
brings to a happy conclusion the prayers of generations of Anglicans and
Catholics who have sought a way forward for Christian unity,” said
Sister Winsome, who had been superior of the Community of St. Mary the
The community will observe the Rule of St. Benedict while also
continuing many traditions of their former Anglican community. They
continue to look for a physical home for their community.
“We are delighted to have a community of sisters at the heart of our
work...we look forward, also, to receiving a great deal from their rich
liturgical and musical heritage, which is rightly respected far and wide
as a positive contribution to the wider renewal of the Sacred Liturgy
which we are currently seeing in the Catholic Church,” said a spokesman
for the ordinariate.
The sisters are the newest members of the ordinariate, joining many
laity and clergy. Several other former Anglican religious have already
joined the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, including three
sisters of the Society of St. Margaret and Father Robert Mercer, a
one-time Anglican bishop and member of the Community of the
The newly Catholic sisters were exhorted to continue their
contemplative calling, pondering in their hearts the things of Christ,
just as the Blessed Virgin Mary did.
“Today sisters, you can say the same, for you become one with St
Gregory the Great, St. Augustine of Canterbury, St. Benedict, St. Edward
the Confessor and all those holy men and women who have been signs
through the ages of God’s providence,” Fr. Seward reflected.