Community of the Sisters of the Church
The Community of the Sisters of the Church is a religious order of women in various Anglican provinces who live the vowed life of poverty, chastity and obedience. In 2012 the Order had 105 sisters living in community, together with an extensive network of associates.
The order was founded by Mother Emily Ayckbown in 1870 as the Church Extension Association. Mother Emily and other women who felt called to the religious life established schools and orphanages throughout England in the late 19th century. The Church Extension Association evolved into the present Community of the Sisters of the Church. The sisters have houses worldwide (see below). The Order is under the patronage of St Michael and All Angels.
Sister Dorina CSC was a prominent religious artist of the 1920s and 1930s who is particularly remembered for a set of Stations of the Cross which has been replicated many times over; examples of this work may be found in many Anglican churches, especially in London.
Current life and work
Any woman who feels called to join the sisters must first apply to the house and then make several visits. Then she becomes an aspirant, then a novice then makes promises to live as a Junior Sister for a few years before taking life vows.
The Sisters of the Church are supported by an international network of associates, who pray for the sisters and give financial and other support for their ministries, which include parish and retreat work, counseling and the only centre in the Solomon Islands for abused women and children at Tenaru.
Their most visible presence in recent years was when two sisters, one in Reeboks, sat in the sanctuary of Westminster Abbey during the wedding of TRH The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on 29 April 2012.
The Order is led by an elected Reverend Mother Superior, who has international responsibility for all houses and all sisters. The Order is then divided into provinces, each of which has an elected Provincial Superior and Assistant Superior. Whilst individual provinces and even individual houses may set local regulations, there is a common Rule of life throughout the Order.
Founded in 1892 and constituted in 1965, the province has convents at:
- Glebe, New South Wales
- Kempsey, New South Wales
- Camperdown (Sydney), New South Wales
- Two sisters live in Melbourne, Victoria:
- One sister is in retirement housing at Toorak
- One sister works in Melton parish
Founded in 1890 and constituted in 1965, the province has a single convent:
- Oakville, Ontario (St Michael's House)
CSC Solomon Islands
Founded in 1970 and constituted in 2001, the province has convents at:
- Tetete ni Kolivuti (the training centre for postulants and novices)
- Honiara (Patteson House)
- Ysabel (St Scholastica's House)
- Temotu, Santa Cruz (St Mary's House)
- Kira Kira, Ulawa (St Gabriel's House)
- Auki, Malaita (St Raphael's House)
- Christian Care Centre (home for women victims of domestic abuse)
CSC United Kingdom
Founded in 1870, the 'original' province has convents at these locations (the main UK convent location will change in 2016 from Ham Common to Gerrards Cross):
- Ham Common, Richmond, Surrey (St Michael's Convent) - closing early in 2016
- Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire (St Michael's Concvent) - opening early in 2016
- Bristol (parish work, and street ministry amongst sex workers)
- Clevedon, Somerset (St Gabriel's Convent) (retreat house, and training centre for postulants and novices)
- West Harrow, Middlesex
- St Anne's-on-Sea, Lancashire
- Kingsdown, Kent
There are currently no convents of the Order outside the four provinces shown above. In the past, convents have been located outside these provinces, in India, Burma, South Africa, and extensively in New Zealand.