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Pack of Provincials

08 February 2013

THERE were celebrations at the Convent of the Holy Name, Derby, last month, when Sister Pauline Margaret (far right) was installed as the new Provincial Superior of the community. The Bishop of Worcester, Dr John Inge, who is Visitor to the community, presided at the ceremony and the eucharist.

Also present were three former Provincials: left to right: Sister Mary Patricia, Sister Jean Mary, and Sister Monica Jane. Between the four of them, my correspondent, Sister Catherine, says, they have "an astonishing 189 years as professed Sisters".

Like many other Anglican religious orders, they are an ageing community: of the 28 Sisters in the English province, only three are below retirement age. They also have overseas houses in Lesotho, however, where a community of 20 Sisters work with children and HIV/AIDS sufferers; and in Zululand, where some 50 more Sisters are teachers and nurses.

But retirement age does not stop the English Sisters' being very busy. Those based in Derby work with five churches and their parishes, as well as being involved with Amnesty International. And hospitality in the convent is important - there is both day and residential accommodation for those in need of quiet times or small parish meetings. They also hosted overseas university students over Christmas.

They do similar work from their small branch houses in Vauxhall, London, Peterborough, and Manchester, and there has long been at least one Sister living and working in Lambeth Palace, on the Archbishop's staff. A constant, however, for all of them is their community life of daily offices, private prayer, and silence.

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