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Eleven Sisters who became Catholic five months ago still seek permanent home

By on Friday, 10 May 2013

The Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the Oxford Oratory

The Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the Oxford Oratory

A community of Sisters received into the Catholic Church on New Year’s Day is still seeking a permanent home, it emerged this week.

The 11 Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary left their historic Anglo-Catholic convent at Wantage, Oxfordshire, the day after their reception to stay for six weeks at an enclosed Benedictine monastery.

Five months on the Sisters, who have no endowments to keep them afloat financially, are still guests at the monastery with no idea where they will live in future.

Mother Winsome said their stay at the monastery had been a “total immersion in a very pure form of the Benedictine tradition”, adding: “We have been so grateful for the support we have received from our Benedictine sisters who have taken us into their monastic home and embraced us with such loving compassion and care.”

But she said that central to their charism was “providing Benedictine hospitality through retreats, at a monastery where guests will be able to join us for offices”.

At Wantage the Sisters had streamed their daily offices live on a website and offered retreats and meditations online.

She said: “We want to be able to share our life and prayer and worship with others, to live in a way that is a blessing for other people.”

The Sisters, who range in age from 45 to 83, were received into the Catholic Church as part of the ordinariate at a Mass at the Oxford Oratory.

The Sisters, who had been living as Anglican religious for up to 50 years, were received as a new community by Mgr Keith Newton, the Ordinary. Having adopted the Rule of St Benedict, they had swapped their blue habits for black ones and wore a traditional Benedictine wimple.

“Many of our former practices were in fact very Benedictine, so it was a natural step,” Mother Winsome said.

The Sisters had been part of the Community of St Mary the Virgin, an Anglo-Catholic group inspired by the Oxford Movement and established in 1848.

Sixteen of the Sisters chose to remain Anglican. Many of those are frail and are being looked after in Wantage.

Mother Winsome said the community had been “full of joy” since they were received into the Church as part of the ordinariate at a Mass at the Oxford Oratory. “The day we were leaving [Wantage] we were walking around saying: ‘I’m a Catholic’, and the inevitable response would be: ‘So am I!’

“Despite the uncertainties of the future we are full of joy to be in full communion with the Catholic Church.”

The Sisters post daily updates at their website here.