The Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who are an Ordinariate community based in Birmingham, are looking for a new convent. The building they currently use is due to be sold and they are urgently searching for a property of the right size which will allow them to continue their ministry of offering retreats.
The Superior, Mother Winsome, said: "We'd ideally like to stay in the archdiocese of Birmingham but we're open to suggestions. However with elderly Sisters it would be helpful for us not to be too remote. We're hoping to find a purpose built convent, as a smallish house wouldn't be quite big enough."
Their main source of income is through offering guest and retreat facilities, so they need a building that would accommodate eight Sisters plus allow space for guests. They would need some downstairs bedrooms or else a lift. As well, ideally, as a Chapel.
The Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary (SBVM) grew out of the Anglican Community of St Mary the Virgin, founded in 1848 in Oxfordshire. Following the establishment of the Ordinariate, the Sisters were received into the full communion of the Catholic Church on 1 January 2013 at the Oxford Oratory. At the time of their reception they adopted the Rule of St Benedict.
After vacating their former convent, they stayed for an initial period of monastic formation at St Cecilia's Abbey on the Isle of Wight. Whilst there, an American Dominican, who was at that point staying at Maryvale in Birmingham, paid a visit. Mother Winsome explains: "We outlined our circumstances and said to the visitor: please go back to Maryvale and beg John Henry Newman to give us a home!"
On return to Birmingham the Dominican in question mentioned to someone that they'd encountered "some homeless nuns" and was told a convent was becoming available, just up the road from Maryvale. Mother Winsome had to act quickly to seal the deal: "I had just an hour to get off the Isle of Wight that day because of the times of the tides!" she recalled. Mother Winsome travelled to meet the outgoing Superior of the Birmingham convent - who was wondering what to do with all the contents of the property. Mother Winsome replied: "Please leave it all, we have nothing!"
There was the slight matter that the Ordinariate Sisters also had absolutely no funds to acquire the property - but, said Mother Winsome, "we were confident the Lord would provide!" Within days an anonymous donor stepped forward and the lease of the property was agreed. So they moved, in August 2013, to their present location in Birmingham, just up the road from John Henry Newman's first 'Catholic' home after his conversion, Maryvale.
The Sisters are confident that their prayers to England's new saint will lead them safely to their own new home soon.
If anyone could help with their property search, please email: [email protected]
To read more about how Anglican Sisters became Catholic Sisters, visit: www.sbvm.org.uk/
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