Sisters of Our Lady of Grace and Compassion

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Sisters of Our Lady of Grace and Compassion

In a series about the Religious Congregations living and working in the Diocese of East Anglia, Fr Karol Porczak MS, Vicar for the Religious, introduces the Congregation of the Benedictine Sisters of Our Lady of Grace and Compassion (OSB).

The Sisters are also known as the Grace and Compassion Benedictines. The Congregation was founded in 1959 by Mary Sunniva Garson (1921 – 2007).

In 1954, there were many lonely people living in appalling conditions in Brighton.  A house for the aged and frail was opened by Mary, assisted by Catholic lay women, who continued to provide care and accommodation for the elderly and needy during the next five years.

In 1959, prompted by their growth in spirituality, the desire for stability and the strength gained from a dedicated community life, upon the advice of the Archbishop of Southwark, the Rt Rev Cyril Cowderoy, this group of lay women established a new religious congregation.

On September 15, 1992, the Bishop of Arundel and Brighton, Rt Rev Cormac Murphy O’Connor, recognised it as a diocesan Congregation. In 1992, the Congregation was admitted into full association with the Benedictine Confederation by the Abbot Primate Rt Rev Victor Dammertz, and remains under the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton.

The charism of the Congregation is love of God and compassion for the elderly, sick, the needy and the unloved. They take as their example Mary, the Mother of God, who at the Annunciation accepted God’s will and welcomed His Son into Her care. The Sisters accept whatever God wants, endeavouring to be loving and compassionate in the service of God and our neighbour. 

The Congregation is divided into four regions: England, Africa, India and Sri Lanka. The total number of sisters is 199 (167 perpetually professed, 21 junior sisters and 11 novices). At present, most of their candidates come from Kenya and Uganda.

The Community of the Montana, in Bury St Edmunds, is represented by eight sisters: Sr Thaya Moses OSB (Superior), Sr Jacintha Aruldass OSB, Sr Angela Fernando OSB, Sr Felsi Anthrias OSB, Sr Rachel Asirvatham OSB, Sr Jothi Antony OSB, Sr Shincy John OSB and Sr Julie John Bosco OSB. Sr Thaya is also the Assistant in the General Council of the Congregation and the Montana Care Home manager.

Pictured from top left are: Sr Jothi, Sr Angela, Sr Rachel, Sr Thaya (Superior), Sr Jacinta, Sr Felsi, bottom, Sr Julie, Sr Shincy.