Episcopal Nuns

Guest blog by Rev. Kate Maxwell OSB

“I didn’t know there were Episcopal nuns.” This is a response I often get when I tell someone that I’m a Benedictine Sister. It seems that Episcopal/Anglican religious communities are a well-kept secret!

The Episcopal Church recognizes two types of ‘religious’ groups: Christian Communities and Religious Orders. Orders are traditional communities that usually make vows of poverty, celibacy, and obedience. They have all their goods and financial resources in common and live together in a convent or monastery. In this, they are quite similar to the communities of the Catholic Church.

Christian Communities, on the other hand, are often dispersed; that is, the members don’t live together but support themselves individually, give to a common purse for the expenses of the community, and generally don’t make a promise of celibacy. The vows taken in Christian Communities vary according to the spirituality of the Community.

My Community is the Benedictine Priory of St. Mary. We are a brand new Christian Community of women, lay and ordained, married, single, or partnered. We live on our own and meet in person at least once each year. The rest of the time, we keep in touch via technology. We are a Benedictine monastic Community, which means that we follow the 1,500 year old Rule of St. Benedict, interpreted for today. At Profession we make the traditional Benedictine commitment of Stability, Obedience, and Fidelity to Monastic Life. Our primary ministry is prayer.

The Priory of St. Mary is a new foundation, and so we are not yet recognized by the national Church. Becoming recognized is a long process. A community needs to have been in existence for several years, have at least six full members, and have a lot of documentation. The Priory has been organized in the Episcopal Church in Minnesota. The Right Reverend Craig W. Loya, our bishop in ECMN, is our Bishop Visitor, which means that he is our connection to the House of Bishops and the larger Church.

If you’re curious about religious life in the Episcopal Church, check out the National Association of Episcopal Communities (naecc.net) and the Conference of Anglican Religious Orders in the Americas (caroa.net). Many Episcopal religious communities belong to one or the other.

Take a look at the Priory’s Facebook page and like us!

You’re welcome to join us for Compline at 7PM on Sunday evenings as well. Just email us at PrioryStMaryOSB@gmail.com and I’ll send you the link.

If you’d like to know anything else about the Priory of St. Mary or Benedictine life, just contact me at intern@stjohnwilderness.org — I’d love to chat with you.

~ Kate OSB (the initials stand for Order of St. Benedict)

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