Community of the Holy Name
- This article is about the Anglican women's community in Europe and Africa. There is another Anglican women's community of the same name in Australia.
The Community of the Holy Name (CHN) (Reg. Charity No. 250256) is a large international Anglican religious order for women. The full name of the Community is The Community of the Mission Sisters of the Holy Name of Jesus, usually shortened to Community of the Holy Name (CHN). The Order currently operates in Europe and Africa. There is also an Order operating in Australia with the same name, but which has an independent history, having been founded entirely separately.
The Community currently (2013) numbers 89 sisters, who live in convents and branch houses. These are grouped into geographical provinces, of which there are currently three, the English Province, the Lesotho Province and the Zululand Province in South Africa. Each province has an elected Provincial Superior and an Assistant Superior who is appointed by the Provincial Superior. There is no Provincial Superior General of the Order, and the authority to direct the Order arises out of regular meetings of the Chapter of each Province in accordance with the Constitution of each Province. The Chapter consists of all Life Professed Sisters. Whilst all three Provinces follow the same Rule of Life, there are local variations of practice in accordance with local tradition and culture. Each province has a Bishop Visitor.
The Community was founded in 1865 by Father George William Herbert (3 October 1830 – 14 November 1894) parish priest of St. Peter's Church, Vauxhall, London. Mother Frances Mary was not the first Mother Superior, but she and Father Herbert drew the fledgling group of sisters together into a vibrant Community. The Community was originally called St Peter's Sisterhood and worked alongside the parish priest and his assistants in helping the deprived and poor of the parish. By 1876 the Community had taken as its dedication, ‘The Holy Name of Jesus,’ thus reflecting a vocation of reaching out to others in the name of ‘Jesus, Saviour.’ The founders drew inspiration from both the Catholic and Evangelical movements.
In 1887 the ‘Mother House’ (Convent of the Holy Name) was established at Malvern Link, Worcestershire, while ‘mission houses’ remained in London and elsewhere in the UK. In 1962 CHN opened a community house in Lesotho in southern Africa amalgamating the Community of St Mary at the Cross. in 1969 CHN opened a community house in Zululand, South Africa. The Community in England moved to the present convent in Derby in 1990, where many of the sisters continue to work with local parishes.
Provinces and Convents
CHN (English Province)
Community branch houses continue to be integral to the Community's way of life as the Sisters seek to actively and prayerfully respond to today’s needs, living among thepoor and deprived and being a praying presence in the midst of need.
CHN branch houses are
- Derby (Normington)
- Manchester (Longsight)
- Peterborough (Welland estate)
- There are four sisters who live as Solitaries.
The mother house of the UK province is in Derby. The resident sisters work from the Convent in local parishes engaging with local needs and issues. Hospitality plays a large part in the life of the Convent; there is a guest cottage for residential guests and accommodation is available for day guests or groups needing space to meet. Many Sisters are active in social issues, campaigns for justice and peace and are involved in the Anglican Communion. Two of the Sisters are ordained priests and are involved in parish ministry. CHN has one sister who represents the Anglican Religious at General Synod of the Church of England.
CHN (Lesotho Province)
In the summer of 1959 Bishop John Maund, Bishop of Basutoland invited CHN to establish a branch house in Basutoland, amalgamating with the Community of St Mary at the Cross, a small African community that had been founded by the Sisters of St Michael and All Angels who had worked in Leribe for many years but were now withdrawing. CHN agreed but with the condition that the African sisters and the English sisters would no longer be segregated as they had been with the St Michael Sisters. The African Sisters agreed to this and after some training in England by four of the African Sisters, the four African Sisters and five English Sisters arrived at the house in Leribe. The intention to live as one community was a powerful statement in the face of the rigorous Apartheid regime that was coming into force just across the border in South Africa.
The sisters today work extensively with both school children, and victims of AIDS.
The convents of this province are:
- Ficksburg (South Africa)
- Leribe (Lesotho)
CHN (Zulu Province)
Founded by sisters from England and Lesotho in 1969, Zulu is the newest province of the Order. The provincial mother house is in Melmoth. The sisters work in local parishes, and also in hospitals and schools. The convents of this province are:
- Luyengo, Swaziland
- Melmoth (provincial mother house)
- Rosettenville (St Benedict's House)
- See editorial note, base of page 37, in 'Anglican Religious Life 2012-13', Canterbury Press, Norwich, ISBN 978-1-84825-089-5.