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Ordinariate Sisters lose bid to stay at Wantage

14 December 2012

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 Mary.

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.


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