10 Episcopal Nuns to Join Catholic Church

Affirm Appreciation of Orthodoxy, Unity

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BALTIMORE, Maryland, AUG. 31, 2009 (Zenit.org).- On Thursday, a community of Episcopal nuns and their chaplain will be received into the Catholic Church by the archbishop of Baltimore.

Ten sisters from the Society of All Saints’ Sisters of the Poor will be received into the Church by Archbishop Edwin O’Brien, along with Episcopal Father Warren Tange, the Baltimore archdiocesan newspaper reported last Thursday.

Having spent seven years in prayer and discernment, the sisters felt drawn to the Catholic faith due to its orthodoxy and unity.

The superior of the community in Catonsville, Mother Christina Christie, affirmed that after studying Catholic teaching for two years, the sisters are “very excited” for their upcoming reception.

In their convent chapel, the nuns will receive the sacrament of confirmation, and will renew their vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.

Their chaplain will also enter the Church at that time, though he is still discerning the possibility of becoming a Catholic priest.

Mother Christina affirmed, “We felt God was leading us in this direction for a long time.”

The communiqué noted that many of them were troubled by recent changes in the Episcopal church, including the approval of women’s ordination, the ordination of a gay bishop and other “lax” stances on moral issues.

Another nun, Sister Mary Joan Walker, said, “We kept thinking we could help by being a witness for orthodoxy.”

The superior explained, however, that the effort was “not as helpful as we had hoped it would be.”

She continued: “People who did not know us looked at us as if we were in agreement with what had been going on [in the Episcopal church]; by staying put and not doing anything, we were sending a message which was not correct.”

They acknowledged that some friends in the Episcopal church have been hurt by their decision to leave, accusing them of abandoning the fight to maintain orthodoxy.

“We’re not,” said Sister Emily Ann Lindsey. “We’re doing it in another realm right now.”

Papal leadership

In the uneasiness with certain issues in their church, the sisters spent time researching various Episcopal splinter groups, as well as other Christian denominations. Finally, they came to the realization that they were independently feeling drawn to the Catholic Church.

“This is very much the work of the Holy Spirit,” Mother Christina said.

Now, two years after having begun the study of the Second Vatican Council and other Church teachings, they affirmed that there were hardly any theological obstacles to overcome.

The concept of papal infallibility was a difficulty at first for some, but now the sisters affirm that the Pope exercises an authority not found in the Episcopal church.

“The unity that Christ called for can be found in the Catholic Church under the leadership of the pope,” they said

“Unity is right in the midst of all this,” said Sister Catherine Grace Bowen. “That is the main thrust.”

Two nuns who decided not to become Catholic will nonetheless continue to live with the community and work together with their religious sisters.

The nuns dedicate themselves to prayer, giving retreats, visiting people in hospice care, and designing religious cards.

The community, which maintains a traditional full black habit with a white wimple, is a branch of the society founded in England. The American branch has been in Baltimore since 1872, working with the poor in the region as part of their charism of hospitality.

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