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Eleven Anglican Sisters to be received into the Catholic Church

By on Wednesday, 12 December 2012

The Sisters intend to follow the Rule of St Benedict (Photo: Fr James Bradley)

The Sisters intend to follow the Rule of St Benedict (Photo: Fr James Bradley)

Eleven Anglican Sisters will be received into the Catholic Church via the ordinariate, it emerged this week.

The Sisters, from the Community of St Mary the Virgin in Wantage, Oxfordshire, will be received into the Church by Mgr Keith Newton, leader of the ordinariate in England and Wales, on New Year’s Day.

The group, which ranges in age from 45 to 83, includes the mother superior of the community and a Sister who was once a minister in the Church of England. Three are in their 80s.

Next year they will stay for six weeks at a Benedictine convent. After that, they do not know where they will live and they have no endowments to keep them afloat financially.

Mother Winsome said: “We’ve got an uncertain future. But we are doing this because we truly believe this is God’s call. The Bible is full of people called to step out in faith not knowing where they were going or how they will be provided for and that truly is the situation we are following.”

The community, inspired by the Oxford Movement and founded in 1848, streams its daily offices live on its website and offers retreats and meditations online.

Mother Winsome, in a letter to friends and associates, said Sisters had been coming to speak to her privately about joining the ordinariate since 2009. Once there was a “critical mass”, and after gaining permission from each Sister, she raised the subject with the community.

The decision by 11 of the Sisters, she said, had been reached “after constant prayer and in discussion with spiritual advisers”.

They will leave 30 or so members behind in Wantage. Mother Winsome said they had wanted to stay at the convent, with Anglican and Catholic Sisters worshipping together, though with “appropriate Eucharistic provision”. That way, she said, they could carry on caring for Sisters who were elderly and frail.

But she wrote: “After considerable discussion with the authorities of the Church of England and the ordinariate, it has become clear that this would not be possible.”

The 11 Sisters, she wrote, “are in the main, but not exclusively, the able bodied members who provide the work and management to keep the Community going, so, since the ordinariate community do have to relocate, considerable time has been spent and will continue to be devoted to ensure that the remaining members of CSMV will be well cared for: spiritually, physically, emotionally as well as financially.”

Mother Winsome said the Sisters were likely to return to Wantage as guests until they found a permanent home.

The community, which will be called the Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary, will be joined by one of the three Walsingham Sisters received into the Church before the ordinariate was first launched. They are intending to follow the Rule of St Benedict.

Sister Patricia Ann, who used to be a minister in the Church of England, said in a statement that she was not the first Anglican woman priest to “lay down” her ordination within the Anglican Church.

Mgr Newton, the ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, said the Community of St Mary the Virgin had been “at the heart of the Church of England’s religious life” since it was founded.

He said: “The contribution of the community to the life of the Anglican Communion has been significant, not least through the community’s care for those marginalised by society in Britain, and also in India and South Africa.

“Those formed in the tradition of the Oxford Movement cannot help but be moved to respond to Pope Benedict’s generous invitation to Anglicans. The sisters have always prayed for the unity of Christians with the See of Peter, now this is to become a reality for them by means of the ordinariate. We are truly grateful for their faith, courage, and resolve.”

In a statement Mother Winsome said: “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. The future of our community is a fulfilment of its origins, and as part of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham we will continue with many of our customs and traditions, whilst also seeking to grow in Christ through our relationship with the wider Church.”

  • LongIslandMichael

     Thanks. Here in the States I have heard and read nothing but good things with regards to cooperation and welcoming of the Ordinariate from the Catholic leadership. Cardinal Wuerl  of Washington DC was charged by the Holy Father to work out and manage the implementation here in the US. LIke I said on the surface and from  what I hear and read it seems to be going very well which is very heartening. I hope and pray the same happens in the UK. I felt this action by the Holy Father was a great idea. It is very exciting imo for the Church.

  • LongIslandMichael

    First let me say Welcome Home!!!! I know I can speak for myself and other good friends of mine who are Catholic that we are all very excited about having the Ordinariate and having you all in full communion with the Church. While I certainly love and wish to maintain that the Roman Rite’s practice (with rare exception) celibacy within the priesthood the new  Ordinariate brings great richness, orthodoxy and beauty, to the whole Church and that includes married priests. I recognize, love and respect that and the traditions, practices, and discipline you all bring to the entire Church. Its is going to be a great benefit and blessing much like the Eastern Catholic Churches bring.

    Thanks for the information. I am so glad to hear also that you will not be “shy about telling the bishops” what you all think. We need more lay people and those who have taken Holy Orders as priests, deacons, bishops and cardinals and nuns to boldly proclaim the Truth without fear. As far as kneeling goes that is not a problem for me. As far as I am concerned the Roman rite could do a lot more of it and learn from you all.

    One other thing I want to pass along. There is a priest in Greenville,  SC at the parish where my wife and I were married who was a former Anglican priest. He converted to Catholicism several years before the Ordinariate was established by Pope Benedict. His name is Father Dwight Longnecker and he writes a great blog which I will link below. I enjoy reading him very much. He and his family are a beautiful blessing to the Faith. He also writes for the National Catholic Register which is owned by EWTN.  I think you and everyone who reads the Catholic Herald would enjoy his blog. Below is the link:


  • Heleena6yates

    I am so sorrowful of this movement

    It is ill conceived.

    It will break up the sense of longevity of this spiritual communion and a homely base for so many

    Institutions do this from time to time break up and out.

    There is no difference really in both the RC or the CE communities—-both are human creations

    My own attachments to St Mary’s have been for decades and having been married to a CE priest I know the pitfalls and the corruptions of these institutions that we are all subjected to and indeed party to.

    I knew something was amiss as the whole community for months behaved as if it was in secret.

    As an associate I will continue to support the Nuns still there and will mourn that in the end they are actually being abandoned at a time when they are at their most fragile and vulnerable—BUT this is the really truth—Christ is fragile and also vulnerable.


  • stan zorin

    “It’s a [s]lap in the face to our own RC priest who would like to marry.”Did he make it publicly known ? And is that all, no problems with some particular articles of belief ?
    You can tell him to ask some converted former anglican priest if balancing the double load of a parish/parishioners and a wife/family is ‘honey licking’.
    “Once again how does the RC justify this? Probably like they justify everything, denial.”
    I’ll be charitable and say that your statement is incoherent.

  • Rkm624

    lmao at your comment that my statement is incoherent. Look who is calling the kettle black.

  • stan zorin

    What do you think would be the best way to ‘smoke them out’ ?

  • UniversiMoveturAbAngelis

    With all respect, it should be remembered that married priests was the norm in the Early Church, and that both married priests (when allowed) and unmarried priests are equally prestigious and valid traditions within the Catholic, Apostolic Church.  To my knowledge, it is not a sin nor is it blasphemy to suggest that a valid tradition could be brought back or even to advocate it (unless the proper authorities told you stop in which case obedience would be required).  Now, if he had said women priests, I would agree with you.  But he did not.


  • savvy

    The church has over 23 rites.

    Each person adheres to their own rite.

    If an RC wanted to become Eastern Catholic, just because they have married priests, they would not be permitted, unless they like Eastern spirituality.

    The opposite is also true.

  • Varghese

    We welcome and pay for good health of the sisters to do better.

  • Joe Zammit

    Celibacy is a gift from God. Christ was celibate.

    Marriage and priesthood can go together.

    The Catholic Church accepts married people for the priesthood but they cannot become bishops. Besides, first they get married, then they are ordained priests, not the other way round.

    So the Catholic Church is accepting Anglican married priests and ordain them again to be sure they are validly ordained. She welcomes them with open arms but on condition that if their wife dies, they cannot marry again.

    Our celibate priests cannot expect to get married: first, because no priest can marry: the process is ordination after, not before, marriage; and second, by marrying a priest would be casting away the gift of celibacy God has giving him.

    If we understand well what the Catholic Church, as the Mystical Body of Christ, does, we will always be faithful to her, knowing that thus we will be always faithful to Christ.

  • 12Maria34

    Welcome home … “former Anglicans we’re not shy about telling bishops what we think” … this is okay but still need to respect and show obedience to our bishops even when our heart bleeds … Papa Leo XIII … we have to be church militant …

  • Rkm624

    You comment has no substance to it.

  • Joe Zammit

    I think your sweeping statement has no substance.

    I gave you the best proof from Public Revelation. You just gave your poor opinion on the matter.

  • Joe Zammit

    Once again how does the RC justify this?

    Ask this question to the Catechism of the Catholic Church and there you will find the precise answer, a definite answer, not an opinion!

  • Joe Zammit


      Par.1599 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church runs:

    “In the Latin Church the sacrament of Holy Orders for the
    presbyterate is normally conferred only on candidates who are ready to embrace
    celibacy freely and who publicly manifest their intention of staying celibate
    for the love of God’s kingdom and the service of men.”

    Marriage and Holy Orders can stay together but one has to be married first, then he can receive the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

    In case of becoming a widower, he cannot marry again.

    A married priest cannot become a bishop                   

  • Joe Zammit


    The Church of the Latin rite started accepting celibate priests at the beginning of the second millenium.

    I think it is obvious that a celibate priest can do much more work and much more apostolate than a married one.

    Christ was celibate.

  • Joe Zammit

    Matthew Hazell,

    You are right.                     

  • Joe Zammit


    Yes; surely. You will find all the answers. 

    The topics you have touched are ALL found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  

    That’s why we need to reason things out not as our whims and fancy suggest to us but as Public Revelation infallibly teaches them to us.                   

  • Joe Zammit

    stan zorin,

    The Catholic Church precisely came to the conclusion to ordain celibate priests only because married priests could not carry out their mission properly.

    We must remember that the mission of a priest is not just to say Mass but he has also a difficult apostolic work to carry out. Being celibate is easier for him to dedicate himself completely to Christ and his Catholic Church.                      

  • Joe Zammit


    “… the bishops chosen by the present and previous Holy Fathers”.

    We must remember that bishops are chosen by Christ. Christ told his Apostles, and their Successors, the Bishops: “Not you have chosen me, but I have chosen you, and …”

    This applies too for the Popes. Christ already knows who all the remaining Popes will be up to the end of time. He has already chosen them!

  • Joe Zammit


    Ordinariate priests always have a remedy. The bishop, after all, is not above everyone, there is a higher authority above him.

    At the same time we must not forget that the soul of the Catholic Church is the Holy Spirit himself, and he knows how to lead all priests to a safe harbour if they remain faithful to him.

    Christ himself is our example. Didn’t Christ have difficulties in his salvific mission? Notwithstanding this, he remained faithful and obedient until his death on the cross.

    Priests, all priests should not expect applause, but crosses that make their apostolate relevant and fruitful. But a cross carried with Christ brings in that priest eternal joy that Christ gives to those who live in an intimate life with him.

  • Stephen Smythe-Jones

    So called Anglican Catholicism has always been a contradiction in terms as Newman finally realised. Anglicanism is at heart a Reformed theology, having more in common with Calvin than with John Fisher.

  • Alban

    But they still worship Almighty God!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_DXBSLIWDHLSL2SLVZYRINOSTGY Mchicha

    They look Catholic to me.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_DXBSLIWDHLSL2SLVZYRINOSTGY Mchicha

    So, you will hind all this stuff from the Deity how?  

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_DXBSLIWDHLSL2SLVZYRINOSTGY Mchicha

    Those that are not interested in real conversions and obidience see all this stuff as they see politics.                        

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_DXBSLIWDHLSL2SLVZYRINOSTGY Mchicha

    RC priests would not like to marry, that is why they are RC priests.

    And if they wish to be dispensed from the priesthood and laicized, they are always free to do so.

    The Church does not hold anyone prisoner.

  • Bro. Damian Nanayakkara, FSC

    Praise the LOrd! Dear Sisters you are all welcome to the true way of life In the Church. May others follow the example you have show. God bless you all and Mother Mary will be very happy to journey with you. God bless you. 

  • Rozf

    The welcome bit is that other Anglican priests act as priests in the R/C church, so we look forward to this priest doing likewise.

  • Stephen Smythe-Jones

    Of course…but never as Catholics and those remaining in the Anglican Communion, remain as non Catholic Christians.

  • Scholar

    There are 12 sisters pictured. So which one is not coming on board?

  • PaulHalsall

    How tragic.

  • Dique_john

    I am deeply encouraged by the move of the sisters of the Community of St Mary, the Virgin,personal ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, and value their place in the Catholic church at a time when so many are being distracted by all manner of temptations, and desperately need the presence and intercession by committed  women in prayer. Yours is a contribution that speaks volumes to those who are struggling in an ubiquitous sea of secular pressure to give in to mediocrity. Thank heavens for women of backbone, and true determination.

  • Baznlyn

    As an insider, this is a scam. Mother sacked staff unfairly and is or was a bully. She probably bullied some into leaving. She has left only sick elderly and frail about 3 able boddied the rest are sick and in care. Do not believe any of it.

  • Heleena6yates

    I also sense that this is true—–the story went that each Nun came individually to speak to MW—no doubt she had also spoken generally about her desires and her theological persuasions; so they were collectively under group pressures. It is with great courage that thos e remaining put their hands to the oars and they must paddle their now smaller canoe through some troubled times—-as an Associate there —I dared to express my sorrow the day after I had been told of the departure and told by some  sanctimonious false humble  older Nun to MOVE ON!!!–she has no understanding of humanity or grief and LOSS and really showed her true colours—narcissism at it pious worst and in denial about her own longevity in her connections to Wantage—-very sad indeed..

  • Heleena6yates


     very good at justifying their actions and as you comment denial is convenient. Like all human institutions there are failings shortfalls ego-centricity—-the oxford movement has little to do with our current world crisis of poverty wars and instability—–everyone who dares to call themselves Christian needs to put their energise into a far bigger picture including the 11 NUNS