ELEVEN of the 22 Sisters
of the Community of St Mary the Virgin (CSMV), Wantage, including
its Mother Superior, are to set up a new religious community under
the auspices of the Ordinariate.
The Sisters will be
received into the RC Church on 1 January, by the Ordinary of the
Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, Mgr Keith Newton.
They will form a new community, the Sisters of the Blessed Virgin
In a letter to
"associates and friends" of the CSMV, dated last Saturday, the
Mother Superior, Mother Winsome, wrote: "Of the 22 sisters who
currently live at the Convent at Wantage, 11 of us believe that we
are being called into the full communion of the Catholic Church as
part of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. This
discernment has been reached after constant prayer and in
discussion with spiritual advisers."
The letter said that the
11 Sisters who planned to join the Ordinariate were "in the main,
but not exclusively, the able-bodied members who provide the work
and management to keep the Community going".
Elsewhere in the letter,
Mother Winsome said that there had been discussions with
authorities in the C of E and the Ordinariate about two communities
- one C of E and one RC - living together in "a truly eucharistic
community here at Wantage". But it had "become clear that this
would not be possible", even though "those who wish to become part
of the Ordinariate always wanted to remain at Wantage, chiefly in
order to be able to care for our elderly and frail sisters."
Since it had been agreed
that "two self-governing communities will be required", agreement
had been reached that the Ordinariate community would "relocate
from Wantage; a painful decision for the whole of the CSMV. .
The 11 sisters being
received into the RC Church would, afterwards, "leave Wantage to
stay for six weeks with a Catholic Convent for the opportunity for
formation together as this newly formed Community", the letter
stated. "It is planned that after this we would return to Wantage,
temporarily and as guests, whilst we seek out a new permanent home.
Even whilst away we will continue to provide support of every kind
for those sisters who remain."
The letter said that
there would be "continuing care for those sisters who remain and
who need it", and that new trustees of CSMV had been appointed to
replace Mother Winsome and her fellow trustees. The Community's
Visitor is the Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd John Pritchard.