Sadly received report of Sisters gone to Rome.

All Saints Sisters of the Poor in Catonsville, Maryland Defect to Rome.

So says the blogs PHILORTHODOX. Remaining are two of the twelve members, "Mother Virginia and Sister Barbara Ann have chosen to remain Anglican." I don't know if this means part of The Episcopal Church or another body of Anglicans in North America not part of the Anglican Communion.

This is very sad. We wish those who have left God's speed, and hope that those who remain find a home in TEC.


  1. Hoosierpalian16/6/09 12:44 AM

    This seems to be symptomatic of the strangeness going on in Baltimore these days. The All Saints Sisters' chaplain recently announced his intention to become a Roman Catholic, and now Mount Calvary's episcopal visitor, the retired Bishop of Quincy, is listed as on the Executive Committee (Lead Bishops Roundtable) of ACNA. What are we all drinking in central Maryland these days? I can only hope that all manner of thing will be well.

  2. I suppose I am not surprised. This is the Episcopalian order that annually requested the bishop reaffirm in them their vow never to receive communion from or consecrated by a woman priest. The move to Rome makes sense. It is also sadly received, as you say, Mark.

  3. Is this in part their response to the escalating ACNA/GAFCON muddle?

  4. I am sad, but I don't think I should be. I think that I should be glad that these sisters in Christ have found a home where they can continue to worship and grow in faith. I can be sad, of course, that these sisters no longer find such a home in ECUSA, but can be glad that they have found one.

  5. So they were victims of false consciousness under the patriarchy?

  6. "Defected to Rome"? Sounds like "Defected to Moscow" during the Cold War. Are you and the catholics having one of your ongoing struggles?
    Can't you just say "they became catholics"?

  7. Life is easier when all decision-making is surrendered to someone else?

    (Word is duckst)

  8. Yikes!?!

    ...but I guess it shouldn't be a surprise, had I been keeping up with the sisters over the years. I confess I hadn't been to visit the Convent since 1972, when I was eight and half months pregnant and went for a day's private retreat -- what a gift! The sisters were pretty nervous, though, worrying that I might go into labor any minute. That was one eventuality for which they had no rubrics.

    Hoosier, I think most of us Episcopalians in the Baltimore area are drinking the local tap water (okay, maybe Brita-filtered), happily receiving the Eucharist whether consecrated by female or male priests, and feeling comfortable with the direction TEC is taking. In a Diocese of this size, though, there are bound to be a few people who are sipping a different beverage. It looks as though the majority of the sisters do incline toward the Italian brew and need to make this move. One can only wish them well and pray for all the sisters, both those leaving and those remaining.

    It will be interesting to see who owns the property and what becomes of it. It is a beautiful retreat center.

  9. Brad, I do believe many of us Episcopalians (although not all) consider ourselves Catholic. Instead of Roman-, though, we're the Anglo-Catholic brand.

  10. "It will be interesting to see who owns the property and what becomes of it."

    Ah yes. The essence of TEC's theology. "Can we grab their property?"

  11. I suspect that the order's property will remain with the order under the stewardship of the sisters who have not joined the Roman Catholic Church. The question of stewardship of the gifts that have been recieved by Episcopal dioceses, parishes and religious orders is not the essence of TEC theology, but that does not make it unimportant. If the stewardship were not important to those who have left and those who have stayed, there be no disputes over property, would there?

  12. I have visited All Saint's Convent on a couple of occasions and my mother (very conservative non-TEC anglican) takes quiet days there from time to time. The only sister I can remember by name is one of the ones who will not cross the Tiber: Sister Barbara Ann, author of "Beakless Bluebirds and Featherless Penguins."

    The convent is on the edge of Patapsco State Park and Sister Barbara Ann is quite the naturalist; she's licensed by the state to care for injured wildlife and return her patients to the wild. According to my mom, she also leads nature hikes through the park in full nun's habit.


  13. " If the stewardship were not important to those who have left and those who have stayed, there be no disputes over property, would there?"
    Actually -- no. The property disputes are realy surrogate battles with TEC trying to punish dissident clergy and conservative believers and those departing wanting to make TEC pay for its wayward ways by making it as painful for those staying as possible.
    See how they love one another, indeed!

  14. I join those that wish all the sisters peace in their decisions - those that remained Anglican, and those that are converting.

    I sincerely hope the Sisters' land is in a trust that will 1) allow a comfortable and safe home for all in the order, and 2) keeps the land from being sold and developed unless funds are needed by the Order. They have nurtured this land and provided a haven from the bustle of a metro area.

    George, why is it so unusual for people to wonder what will happen to the property? I'm sure everyone in their surrounding area is wondering the same, and hoping the land won't be sold and developed (The Roman church does that, too, and has all over the U.S. as it consolidates parishes, etc.)

  15. George,

    Feel free to attribute the worst motives to the parties to property disputes. I would rather consider that people are trying to be good stewards, even when I disagree with their decisions.

  16. Hoosierpalian17/6/09 10:38 PM

    Hi Mary Clara,

    Yes, I think your assessment is correct.I am especially hopeful about the leadership of our new bishop. I've been living in Baltimore since mid-2006--probably time to change my internet handle to Baltipalian. It just seems to me that there has been a bit of drama brewing (Italian and otherwise!) recently.

    Warm regards,

  17. Hi, Hoosier/Baltipalian! Yes, I too am excited about our new Bishop. Also looking forward to the installation of a new dean at the Cathedral (announcement due any time now). I confess I have been oblivious to any drama brewing in the Diocese. Hope you are enjoying life in Baltimore.

    Melanie, thanks for the further details about the convent -- yes, it really is in a very special location, in effect augmenting the forest reserve of the State Park; and I didn't know about Sister Barbara Ann's work as a naturalist.

    Thanks also to Lynn and Fr. Daniel for their comments about the future of the property, which sum up so well what was behind my expression of concern. George's remarks, besides being wrong-headed, are simply rude.

  18. I was unfamiliar with this order until this moment, but a quick perusal of their website mentions multiple parcels of holdings, including a cottage for their priest/chaplain and other houses for the order. So one would naturally wonder what would become of it all in this type of situation. Not to mention the ongoing ministry that the website appears to alude was extensive in the category of retreats.

  19. According to Living Church, the canons state that the property belongs to the order, not the diocese. So the order should have the right to decide its fate. I would think that stewardship would dictate that it be handled so as not to interfere with their mission of ministering to the dying, if stewardship is about how it belongs to God, not to a specific institution.

    One interesting quote from the article quoted above:

    While attracted by the sisters’ beautiful 80-acre campus and their mission and ministry, most potential aspirants declined to pursue a calling with the order because they found its traditional “vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience” to be incongruous with what the visitor understood to be the mission and ministry of The Episcopal Church.

    Does that seem right? Are “vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience” out of place in TEC? Frankly, it seems to me that the Episcopal Church is about "fiduciary obligations", almost anything but chastity, and autonomy, not the traditional monastic vows. But that just may be my bias, and I am curious what others think of this order's dilemma within TEC.

  20. RB,
    I generally take everything "The Living Church" says with a good sprinkling of salt. Their swipe at the Episcopal Church in the paragraph you quoted is a case in point.

    As for vows of "poverty, chastity, and obedience" ... such vows have never been something very many people could accept. That's the whole point of monasticism historically being a special calling for a minority.

    In particular, "poverty" seems quite unattractive to most Americans. Certainly this is true for Americans in TEC ... but its even more true for Americans in the many churches that teach the "prosperity gospel." RB, you may be different, but I don't think most Americans are eager to sell all they have and give it all to the poor.

  21. No, I'm not particularly eager to sell all I have and give to the poor, but that was not my question. Let's try again. The claim of the article is that potential aspirants to this holy order find 'its traditional “vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience” to be incongruous with what the visitor understood to be the mission and ministry of The Episcopal Church.' Is that right, as opposed to the Roman Catholic church where these nuns are making their new home? Have we become too obsessed with money, sex, and power to allow vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience to be coherent within our midst? (And I dare say both sides of the conflict have have obsessed with issues concerning money, sex, and power -- isn't this obvious?) It appears that God has called some people (not everyone) to take up this lifestyle, and it seems to me that the loss of holy orders with these vows from the Episcopal Church would be a major one. We need their witness, perhaps now more than ever.

    The quote from the article from our Constitutions and Canons appears accurate, by the way, and you may wish to read it before dismissing it. It appears that the Episcopal Church has never claimed that monastic orders hold their property in trust for the church and diocese, and are independent, as are our schools and seminaries.

  22. RB,
    I answered the charge in a manner I felt was appropriate. That my answer doesn't satisfy you doesn't make it invalid. However, to answer even more directly:

    I question the claim made about the aspirants, that is, about why they wouldn't join the order, and I question the claim that vows of "poverty, chastity, and obedience" (for monastics) are incompatible with the mission and ministry of TEC. We have several orders that require vows of "poverty, chastity, and obedience" (or some variation on such), and these orders all successfully attract aspirants.

    My guess is that the order was having trouble finding women who were willing to join a group that rejects the priestly ministry of women, but the Living Church article obfuscated that. that's why I noted the need to take anything in Living Church with a good amount of salt.

    On your last point... I think you'll be hard-pressed to find anything in my post about the property. Please don't assume everyone is speaking with the same voice.

  23. If the property is the sisters' then, when they become officially Roman Catholics, the property will belong to the Roman Catholic Church. If you take a vow of poverty in the Roman Catholic Church, that means you can own nothing. So the Roman Church if they are kind will allow the sisters to remain there. If no vocations appear and the older nuns die off the property will probably be sold to pay for the huge costs of running a diocese with many expenses.


OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with some cautions and one rule:
Cautions: Calling people fools, idiots, etc, will be reason to bounce your comment. Keeping in mind that in the struggles it is difficult enough to try to respect opponents, we should at least try.