The Parish Church of St George the Martyr, Waterlooville


2010 proved to be a really difficult and challenging year for the Priory Sisters. The New Year looked promising, with four serious young aspirants considering a possible vocation to the Religious Life with us in Walsingham. After several years with no new vocations we were filled with fresh hope and a sense of expectancy.

At the end of May, Sister Phyllis fell and needed surgery for a broken femur. This healed well, but left her very confused and she needed professional care so has settled in a local Care Home. Sister Joan Michael lost a courageous battle against cancer and died peacefully on December 7th in Cranmer House.

Just before Sister Joan Michael died the first of our aspirants, Mary-Rose Ellis, was received as a postulant. Three weeks later, Mother Carolyne Joseph told the Chapter that she, Sister Wendy Renate and Sister Jane Louise had decided to enter the Roman Catholic Ordinariate. From that moment things moved very fast and they left the Community of December 2nd.

This left just four older Sisters in the Community, plus Rose, our postulant. The future for us looked very bleak indeed but we knew it was not the time to make any hasty decisions. We needed time and space to review the whole situation in order to discern the way ahead.

Not one of us felt we could just give up, close down this Autonomous House of the Society, send Rose away and tell the aspirants there would be no future Noviciate. In addition to all this, Sister Caroline Jane, from St Peter’s Woking had for some time been considering a transfer to Walsingham and now made her decision to ask to do so. Just to give up now was certainly not the spirit of our Founder, John Mason Neale, nor that of SSM! Echoing in our ears was his maxim, The impossible must be done! With that in mind we have decided to elect a Mother in due course, re-open the Noviciate, accept Sister Caroline Jane to start her preparation to transfer to us - and wait and see what transpires. We now have Carol Stead preparing to join us in the autumn.

Humanly speaking we know this must seem quite mad. Under God what might have seemed an apparent death must issue in resurrection whatever the outcome. We are well aware of our fragility: we know postulants do not necessarily stay the course, but we are more than prepared to take the risk, and so, it seems, are they. Who knows? God is the God of the impossible.Whatever happens eventually we shall be able to rest in the peace and the certainty that we have tried to do what we feel to be God’s Will - and that is all that really matters.

All shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.

Mary Teresa

Summer Edition 2011

The Sisters at Walsingham