All Saints Sisters of the Poor in Catonsville

Ordinariate numbers are still not as high as we might have hoped (although increasing worldwide all the time), but we do have an encouraging number of religious brothers and sisters. The Benedictine Sisters of the Bleseed Virgin Mary in Newman’s Maryvale near Birmingham, England; the Companions of the Order of Saint Benedict in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada; Sister Jane Louise, sadly the only Sister of Our Lady of Reconciliation in Walsingham after the sad death of Sister Wendy Renate; several hermits, solitary religious or Ordinariate members of other communities. And then there are the All Saints Sisters of the Poor, the earliest of these communities or individual religious to enter into the full communion of the Catholic Church – in September 2009, only two months before the promulgation of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus providing for the Personal Ordinariates.

The All Saints Sisters are therefore not members of the Ordinariate but belong to the Archdiocese of Baltimore. They are, however, proud of their Anglican heritage, as witnessed on their website. There we find a whole section entitled “Our Anglican Patrimony”, where the sisters have written:

What is this treasure, this ‘Anglican Patrimony’?

The mist on an English moor is elusive and impossible to describe in words, unless perhaps by poetry.  Nevertheless it is quite real.  The heritage of the Anglican or English spiritual way is equally elusive of definition.  It almost needs to be experienced to grasp what it means.  Nevertheless, like the English mist, it is quite real.  No one has all the pieces of this mist, yet here are some brief thoughts with gratitude to others who have pondered this issue.

The Anglican treasure is :

First:  PEOPLE

Consider a list of a few of the more famous converts:

St Edmund Campion (yes, he was a convert)
Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman
Gerald Manley Hopkins, S.J.
G.K. Chesterton
Ronald Knox

And a host of others who became faithful priests, bishops, religious and lay people in the Catholic Church – and most lately, the All Saints Sisters!

Perhaps the most mysterious gift of this Anglican patrimony is its way of graciously leading souls onward – with the kindly light of Christ – leading, in fact, into full communion and union with the Holy See.


The Anglican treasure presents a beautiful synthesis of prayer and life.  It has preserved a sense of the holy within the ordinary, all encircled and encompassed with God’s loving, Trinitarian Presence.  Here is a quality of down-to-earthness, a “homeliness” (Julian of Norwich’s term), a warm, tolerant and human devotion rooted in love reaching up to heaven.


This part of the spiritual heritage of Anglican converts yet it is symbolized by the old Book of Common Prayer and particularly difficult to explain.  The Roman Catholic Church has nothing like it.  Nothing.  Born in 1549 of the horrible, bloody rupture known as the English Reformation, this one book soon became the corner stone of the English spiritual way.

It preserved a deep reverence for the Holy Eucharist, a central place for the Divine Office as corporate worship for the entire church which gave birth to a delicate sense of prayer, of the heart in pilgrimage, “Church bells beyond the stars heard, the soul’s blood….something understood.”  (George Herbert, Prayer I)


“You are here to kneel/ Where prayer has been valid.”  ….

“Here, the intersection of the timeless moment”  ….

“So, while the light fails/ On a winter’s afternoon, in a secluded chapel/ History is now and England.”      (T.S. Eliot, all from ‘Little Gidding’)

In the Middle Ages, England was called “the land of the Benedictines”.

There is in the English patrimony, a spiritual continuity between the desert fathers and mothers, the monastic led Celtic Church, St. Benedict and his sons: including St. Augustine of Canterbury, St. Anselm, St. Aelred the Cistercian, on through the 14th Century English mystics,  the Caroline Divines, the Tractarian priests, Blessed John Henry Newman…..and many holy monastic men and women from c.1850 to 2012.

This monastic quality is revealed in at least three ways:

Stability…not as a vow, but as “in a settled church.” (John Donne)  This is also the English tendency towards ‘balance‘ which is a monastic quality. This is “A serious house on serious earth…” of Philip Larkin’s Church Going

Recollection…As in the Rule of St Benedict (RB) there is an emphasis on ‘conversion of life’ so in the Anglican patrimony there is this emphasis on habitual living in Christ’s Presence in the Church and a meditative approach to life.  As the 14th century English Mystic, Julian of Norwich, put it:

    ‘The fruit and the purpose of prayer
is to be oned with
and like God in all things.’

The Divine Office…Anglicans have long been a people of the Divine Office in which all were expected to participate.  Generations of Anglicans grew up going to church on Sundays (and sometimes on weekdays) to chant the Psalms at Morning Prayer – and often Evensong as well.  The Book of Common Prayer (BCP) preserved the monastic quality of the Hours and made it an integrated system of gathering for community prayer.

17 thoughts on “All Saints Sisters of the Poor in Catonsville

  1. You speak condescendingly of “the good sisters” in a way that makes it sound as though they are holding out for no comprehensible reason. They seem quite happy with their relationship with the local archdiocese, whose legal, insurance, and healthcare support, among other services, are indubitably more robust than anything the OCSP can currently offer. I also see no evidence on their website or blog that they use Divine Worship as their liturgy. Their statements about “Anglican Patrimony” and the BCP are warm, but past tense.


    • The All Saints Sisters of the Poor community has very close ties to St. Timothy’s, the ordinariate community in Catonsville.



      • Since I know this so Saintly community well (and what marvelous stories they have !) and had the privilege as High Church – Baltimore City, to spend time with them both off and on their Catonsville campus…. they are associated with and continue to be tied to Mount Calvary … from the web of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, “Mount Calvary’s reception into the Catholic Church marks the second such Anglican community in Baltimore to do so. In 2009, Cardinal-designate O’Brien welcomed 10 Episcopal nuns and their chaplain to the Archdiocese. In 2011, the nuns, members of the All Saints Sisters of the Poor in Catonsville, were welcomed into a newly-erected Roman Catholic diocesan priory of the same name.”
        And so nicely noted here as well—-
        “The steady flow of Mount Calvary ‘alumni’ to Rome, combined with the decision by the All Saints Sisters and the publication of Anglicanorum coeitbus, made it clear to the people of the parish that our future lies with the Catholic Church,” Father Catania said.”

        A lovely stop over for one if ever in the Baltimore area.


  2. That is good to hear. But since St Timothy’s does not have its own church or its own pastor, it illustrates the resource issues that must be taken into consideration when making decisions about jurisdiction.


    • Yes.

      Of course, a religious order, like All Saints Sisters of the Poor, DOES have its own facilities.

      I don’t know whether the papal dictate of 21 March 2017 stipulating that the remaining communities erected under the so-called “pastoral provision” move to the ordinariate includes All Saints Sisters of the Poor or not.



      • On the subject of Catholic Sisterhood and Anglican interactions … my input on Catholic and Anglicans and the English response to the French Revolution.

        Most American Catholics and many Anglicans as well are surprised when I tell them that as a charitable response to the French Revolution, both Catholic Cleric and Catholic Sisters were supported at that time by the British Parliament under the “Wilmot Commission/ Emigrant Refugee Committee”. It was enacted to offer both financial and physical support to that Catholic mass that was lucky enough to escape the Guillotine and initiated by John Eardley Wilmot (1748 – 23 June 1815). As a Member of the Parliament of Great Britain and hostile to the French revolution, Wilmot was able to procure at that time a distribution of funds, under the sanction of parliament, on behalf of the Catholic emigrants from French.

        It is estimated that over 10, 000 Catholics had immigrated to England from France by 1794. This fascinating history has been recently synthesis by Tonya J. Moutray (2016) in her book, “Refugee Nuns, the French Revolution, and British Literature and Culture” As Moutray reports (page 11), “Refugee nuns who arrived before November of 1794 were given an annual grant of 10 British pounds by the British Government. Nuns who migrated later were awarded a slightly larger pension, amounting to one guinea per month, which continued until death”.

        At only 170 pages and with an excellent bibliography, it makes for a fascinating read!


  3. Interestingly, St. John the Baptist (Philadelphia) will hold a parish retreat at the All Saints Sisters in Catonsville on June 16-18. The “Anglican connection” in the convent seems still very much present rather than being “past tense”.


    • You shall so enjoy this… the grounds are lovely and so park like. And the retreat facilities splendid. Due to the Sisters befriending of the local Deer Herd …. you may be treated to their presence as well !


    • Further update, from Facebook: a Dominican was available to say mass on Easter Day. Some sisters attwnded Holy Week services at Mt Calvary, which is the church the order was connected with, historically.


  4. To follow up on the comment, “No Holy Week Services due to lack of chaplain” . I bet this never happened in their Episcopal days.” The dear religious did have a Chaplain on the grounds of their Convent. His residence was a small cottage where male guests stayed as well. He was very impressive Anglican, getting on in years and was known as the only one on the grounds that said “Lauds ” at 3 AM ! Skipping this, the Sisters however religiously singed/ said the Other Daily Offices in their small and very attractive wooden chapel. It was a delight for women guests to joined them here. Regarding a present Catholic Chaplain actually residing on their grounds ? They would be able to answer this.

    One of the delights of their hill top was that on the adjacent hill top, located was the Catholic SDN’s provincial Mother House. Bells would vibrate in turn from each hill top. While the Anglican/ Catholic sisters remain on their hill top, still today….. the adjacent SND hill top property was closed and sold years ago !

    And tis so, according to the sisters facebook posting, ” a Dominican was available to say mass on Easter Day. Some sisters attended Holy Week services at Mt Calvary, which is the church the order was connected with, historically.” And I may add… they are still strongly so !


  5. Regarding clergy on site, I see that St Barnabas, Omaha has acquired a new rectory which will also house church offices and provide an apartment for the sexton. A nearby property will house the organist. Housing is important to clergy mobility in the OCSP, especially for the current generation of married priests who cannot share with other local Catholic clergy, as Fr Catania has been doing up to now in Omaha.


  6. Does anyone know of any Hermits in the Ordinariates? I recently was Confirmed in November and was a Solitary Religious in the TEC; finally professed in September 2007 in that body. Thank you in advance for any information.


    • Hello Sister Ellen, Yes, we have a consecrated Hermit, St. Phoebe Hunter, who attends our Ottawa parish. I can tell her about you. She is not on the internet. If you would like to do a guest post on contemplative spirituality and Anglican patrimony I would most welcome it!
      Thanks for your contribution here,


    • Yes. As I write this, there’s a news item on the web site of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham about Brother Robert Augustine taking vows as a hermit of that ordinariate on 28 March 2017. The article mentions that he is the second hermit of that ordinariate, Fr. Davis Butler being the first.

      I honestly don’t know how the canons pertaining to religious life in the Catholic Church relate to your situation. I don’t recall reading of former Anglican religious who have come into the Catholic Church, either as part of an ordinariate or as a new diocesan community, repeating their profession after reception into full communion, but it might have been done quietly in the back room. There are now at least five such communities — the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement (“Graymoor Friars”) founded in Graymoor, New York, the All Saints Sisters of the Poor in Catonsville, Maryland (the subject of the OP), the three sisters in Walsingham received into full communion with now-Msgrs. Keith Newton, John Broadhurst, and Andrew Burnham and their families, another community of sisters received into the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham a couple years later who subsequently became more Benedictine in their spirituality, and a small Benedictine community somewhere in Saskatchewan that came into full communion at the beginning of this year (I’m having difficulty locating the relevant links for further information, but it did appear on one blog or another). Unfortunately, one of the three sisters in Walsingham subsequently joined the fourth of these communities and then another died, leaving Sister Jane Louise on her own at that location.


      Liked by 1 person

  7. What is the current status of the Servants of the Sacred Cross? We had a lively discussion about married religious in habits on Ordinariate Expats or FttW a while back, and their progress or otherwise towards official staus (still “de facto” here ). There is a picture of Sr Carole Barker in her habit on the Bl John Henry Newman,Victoria website (sponsoring a friend at a confirmation at Easter, 2016 )
    but I have seen nothing more recent.


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