April 15, 2021
As some of you probably know, the Eastern Province of the Community of St. Mary recently announced their resolve to leave the Episcopal Church. We ourselves were only told the day before by email and have been going through some initial stages of grief over that reality. Sadly, we are not totally surprised by their decision; they have been unhappy in the Episcopal Church for some time. And while we consider their decision grievous and misguided, we also accept that they are not likely to turn away from their present course of action. We write, then, to assure you that we, as the Community of St. Mary, will remain faithful to our calling within the Episcopal Church.
The Community of St. Mary, was founded in 1865 when Harriet Starr Cannon and a small group of women sought the Church’s approval to found a religious community within the Episcopal Church. Bishop Horatio Potter, then Episcopal Bishop of New York, supported the Sisters’ efforts and facilitated that approval as well as the Community’s consequent founding. It was the first Episcopal religious community for women in the U.S.
The Eastern Province’s decision saddens us because our founder rooted our Community in the Episcopal Church. For 156 years the Community has prayed and served within that context. Now, by deciding to join the Anglican Diocese of the Living Word and the Anglican Church in North America, these Sisters set aside that tradition and heritage. We will not. We stand with Mother Harriet and the Episcopal Church. Indeed, we are honored to carry on our Community’s long and rich ministry of prayer and service, rooted within the Episcopal Church.
We grieve for the Sisters, who formerly composed the Eastern Province of the Community, and assure them of our prayers as they discern their future.
In the risen Christ,
Sr. Madeleine Mary, CSM
Prioress, The Community of St. Mary