All Saints Sisters Profess Vows

From the Baltimore Sun:

Archdiocese of Baltimore welcomes new order of nuns

November 01, 2011
By Mary Gail Hare, The Baltimore Sun

The Archdiocese of Baltimore added a new religious order of nuns Tuesday, its first in decades and one that began as an Anglican community.

The All Saints' Sisters of the Poor left the Episcopal Church for the Roman Catholic Church two years ago. By a decree from the Vatican, they are now an official diocesan priory, or order, the same designation carried by the School Sisters of Notre Dame or the Daughters of Charity.

"We feel we have broken ground," said Mother Christina Christie, leader of the community and a nun since 1966.

Yesterday, All Saints' Day, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, all 10 members of the Catonsville convent individually professed perpetual vows of poverty, chastity and obedience "for the rest of my life in this world." Then each signed her profession at the altar before nearly two dozen priests and bishops.

Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien chose Nov. 1, the sisters' patronal feast day, to officially receive the community into the archdiocese.

"This is a great day and a great gift to the church in Baltimore," O'Brien said to the congregation. "Few bishops have had such an opportunity."

The sisters and their chaplain, who was ordained a Catholic priest in June, felt they were "drifting farther apart from the more liberal road the Episcopal Church is traveling," Christie said. One of the leading factors in their decision to leave the faith was the decision by Episcopal leaders to sanction the ordination of gay men and women.

Several times during the Mass, O'Brien praised the nuns' "long journey of faith," one that he said, "was not without distress."

Nuns from several different orders in the archdiocese attended the service to support their new sisters.

"We are happy after so many years of knowing them that they are joining us," said Sister Concetta Melton of the Oblate Sisters of Providence, whose convent is practically a neighbor to All Saints'.

For the newest community, it will be business as usual in their lives of prayer and service, said Christie. Now that they are an official religious institute, they can re-open their novitiate and welcome new candidates to their community. Since their change of denomination, there have been several inquiries, she said.

"We are not expecting a mad rush to join us," she said. "But we will take those that God sends us."

Author: Fr. Christopher Phillips

Fr. Christopher G. Phillips is the pastor of Our Lady of the Atonement Catholic Church in San Antonio, Texas, where he has served for the past twenty-eight years. He is the founding pastor of the first Anglican Use parish, erected in 1983 under the terms of the Pastoral Provision. Fr. Phillips was ordained as an Anglican for the Diocese of Bristol, England, in 1975. After serving as Curate for three years at St. Stephen Southmead, he returned to the United States and served in two Episcopal parishes in the Diocese of Rhode Island. In 1981 he left the Episcopal Church and moved with his family to Texas, where he was subsequently ordained as a Catholic priest in 1983. Fr. Phillips and his wife, JoAnn, have been married for forty years. They have five children, all grown and married, and three grandchildren.

26 thoughts on “All Saints Sisters Profess Vows”

  1. Really love their habits and they look like authentic nuns unlike a lot of other 'Catholic' orders.
    So, I guess they won't be joining the Ordinariate after it is established. Too bad if not. It could be a real morale booster to have them.

    1. I did not see anything about the Ordinariate, either pro or con. They could if they wanted. Maybe they are join like St Luke's and will transfer. Maybe someone with more knowledge will let us know.

      Either way, it is great they are in the Church. May God increase their numbers. Ordinariate or not, I (and my wife) would love to have them near or in a parish.

      When were they issued their 3 ft rulers for wayward students…..and the occassional priest.

        1. The Western canonical distinction doesn't obtain in Anglicanism: in the Episcopal Church there are only religious orders and Christian communities. The ASSP were (and in England are) certainly not the latter and of course would have been identified consistently and without hesitation as nuns until recently.

          1. If I remember correctly from one of my conversations with one of the sisters, one of the difficulties they faced is that they did consider themselves 'nuns' in the Roman sense. The question was reconciling that with their active apostolate. How that came out in their approved rule, I do not know. Perhaps someone can enlighten us?

  2. I had rather thought that they would be joining the Ordinariate, but that like the other parishes/communities who have come over "early", they are juridically situated where they are for now, as everyone has to be in a proper place. Even if it were to be true that they stay with the archdiocese of Baltimore, though, they will always be "ours".

  3. If I remember correctly, 2 of the original nuns decided to remain Anglican. What will happen to them? Is it possible for them to stay with the others but not able to partake of communion during mass? Just wondering.

    1. One of the two did convert at a later point. For the other, or for any visiting Anglican, an Anglican priest brings communion at least once weekly (not sure how often) and gives it at the side altar while the Eucharist is being distributed.

  4. It is good to see this formerly Episcopalian Order safe within the Church. I am sure they will be happy. Compared with what is left of their English counterpart, the American All Saints Sisters are vigorous. There is almost nothing left of the All Saints Sisters of the Poor in England, just a few old ladies living in St John's Home, Cowley, Oxford. There last entrant was in her fifties. For years they have lost any real connection with their roots and have become a moderate, self-authenticating tradition.

    While the attractions of the Ordinariate loom large on the Anglo-Catholic website, I hope this does not imply that membership of an Ordinariate should be an exclusive path for Anglicans drawn to the Church. I know many who desire to enter in the normal way and not feel cooped up in an Ordinariate painfully forging an identity. One of the joys of conversion is that one leaves so much behind and finds oneself breathing new air on new soil. I cannot help suspecting that the All Saints sisters would feel cooped up in an Ordinariate, instead of being able to breath freely on the Church's own terms. It will also enable them to accept postulants and novices more easily. In an Ordinariate the field would be severely restricted, They have the chance of greater growth within the main stream.

    1. I can't imagine that former Anglicans would be required to join the Ordinariate rather than a regular Latin Rite diocese. Anglicanorum Coetibus says no such thing.

      In any event, this is a cause for great rejoicing. I have admired them for years, and a parent of mine went on retreats or visits with these sisters many years ago.

      1. It isn't, as you say Disgusted in DC, Anglicanorum Caetibus that discourages reception of Anglicans into the Church in the normal way on an individual basis, but certain triumphalist clerical members of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham who imply that this is not only the best way in, but there is little alternative. They hate being reminded that not all prospective Anglican converts will want to follow that route. With the exception of a few conspicuous instances, the British Ordinariate is a scattered enterprise with little corporate identity. This makes me think that it will last for no longer than a generation and will slowly disappear. Indeed, many lay members are beginning to realise that there is not much need of it in practical terms.

        1. I think your claims about "triumphalist Ordinariate clergy" lack credibility. Methinks there is an agenda somewhere.

        2. Mr. Bowles,
          Your posts often suggest a certain level of familiarity with the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, almost as if you have your finger on its pulse, as they say.

          Are you a member of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham?

          1. No, I am not a member of the British Ordinariate but I take a keen interest in English Catholic affairs and have access to inside information, little of which disposes me towards the Ordinariate.

            1. I deduce from the style of writing that Mr Bowles is not a native of England, and I also conclude from what he has written that he is not very familiar with affairs here in England. I do not recognise his description of some clerical leaders of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. That is certainly not how they come acress, here.

    2. I do not believe it has even been hinted here that the exclusive path for Anglicans entering into full communion with Rome will have to be through the Ordinariates. It is, however, a legitimate and generous path which has been opened by the Church, and references to being "cooped up" or entering in a "normal" way (as though Ordinariates are somehow "abnormal") are remarks which are decidedly unhelpful. And as far as having a "restricted field" is concerned, in our nearly thirty years in the Anglican Use our growth has been anything but restricted, including many vocations to priesthood and religious life. In fact, I believe the Ordinariates will allow us to flower even more profusely.

      1. Father Phillips,

        It hasn't grown. The number of Anglican Use parishes can be counted with two hands. The Anglican Use has not been successful, and the end of a married priesthood will only create more problems/obstacles for the Ordinariate.

        You say these remarks are "decidedly unhelpful" because you are not open to any constructive criticism concerning any aspect of the implementation of the Ordinariate. Why are you afraid of an open and frank discussion on this history-in-the-making event?

        1. 1928BCP,
          The Anglican Use has not been as "successful" as you think it should have been because there are many bishops in the US who would not allow Anglican Use parishes to be established. I know personally of one Episcopal pastor who came into the Church under the Pastoral Provision and who had a group coming with him. The local bishop would not allow them to come in together and made them all disburse to other parishes. Very heartbreakiing!. This kind of thing is what will be avoided with Anglicanorum Coetibus, since now the local diocesan bishop will have no say about whether or not a parish can be established. I, myself, am waiting for the establishment of the Ordinariate before I try to find others of like mind in my area who might want to join us. I did not want to risk having the local bishop (since transferred) to say "no" to my request to get a group together, so I am waiting until there won't be anything the local bishop can say or do. That may not be the most charitable of attitudes, but I prefer facing reality rather than "wishful thinking."

          1. Bishops who attempt to thwart the creation of Anglican Ordinariate parishes had best watch their ways. To incur the displeasure of Pope Benedict who has taken on the AO as his "special project" could lead to these bishops serving in a very different apostolate. Perhaps, as missionaries in Bolivia or as chaplains distributing holy communion to elderly nuns in Port Moresby.

        2. 1928BCP, since it hasn't been implemented yet in this country, how could you possibly give criticism, helpful or otherwise?

          And where the Anglican Use has been allowed, it has grown. The previous commenter is exactly right — the only thing that has cramped the growth of the Anglican Use is the refusal on the part of some bishops. The Holy Father is dealing with that situation under the terms of Anglicanorum coetibus.

          1. Thank you Fr. Phillips for your reply. I find that most of the posters that make these comments are hoping that the Ordinariate is not successful.

            I have seen posts on other websites where some say the Ordinariate is "dead".

            Our choice of becoming Catholic and retaining our Anglican patrimony appears to be a threat to many who belong to Continuing Anglican groups. It looks like some might feel it is competition between them and the Ordinariate.

            At least this is how I perceive this type of reaction towards the Ordinariate.

        3. Others have answered this "helpful cricticism". I also know of Anglican clergy who have in the past been thwarted by local Bishops. That is the past.
          The Holy Father here, as in the UK, is doing his best to make sure no one trips the Ordinariate up. Except for the so-called experts who pontificate on blogs. If the Ordinariate fails, we will have no-one to blame but ourselves. I for one do not think it will fail and I am done looking for boggey men.

          The google map dismisses your not so helpful criticism. Up to 80+ parishes, mission and groups who are committing to the Ordinariate. If I counted correctly. Some clusters so thick you need to scroll in quite a bit to see the different parish groups.

          I also know of other places, where like one of the posters, are waiting for the establishment of the Ordinariate. I know of one former Anglican priest who has been directed by the local Bishop to wait until it is announced before gauging interest. So I expect once the announce is made, we will see more groups popping up.


  5. I completely agree with Father Phillips.

    A parallel situation existed within the Roman Catholic Traditionalist community, for several decades. Thanks to the generosity of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI this situation was eventually corrected, by removing the obstacles that inhibited growth. Perhaps the Una Voce website offers conclusive proof that such obstacles are largely a thing of the past.

    I pray for and foresee continued organic growth of both seeds, the Anglicanorum Coetibus and Summorum Pontificum. If we work humbly, intelligently, and unceasingly in the parts of the vineyard our Lord assigned us to, both of these seeds will bring forth acceptable fruit. And a wonderful work in progress will be passed on to our children.

  6. If they can get some good proper advertising to let young ladies know that their novitiate has been re-opened, I would think they do quite well. Sisters who wear proper habits and have traditional ways are flourishing.

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