Seeing all we do through the lens of compassion.

Moving into the future as agents of forgiveness, reconciliation and healing.

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Charism

Servite women desiring to follow Jesus, look to Mary who was the first disciple of Jesus and the best.

Listening to the Word of God
God speaks in the scriptures, in our hearts and in the signs of the times. Like Mary, we seek to listen with such intensity to this Word, pondering it within the depth of our being, that Christ is conceived within us. We hope that people in our time who long to hear the Good News of Jesus, will hear it spoken in our words and see it in our actions. In our ministries we carry the Life that comes from the Word made flesh in Jesus, hoping that in our nurturing, those whom we serve will be touched by the healing hand of God.

Living as women of Faith
As Mary did at the Annunciation, we say ‘Yes’ to God’s actions in our lives even when we do not fully understand what is being asked of us. Our faith is based on the sure foundation of God’s eternal love, and a confidence that our poor efforts will be transformed and made fruitful by the power of God’s spirit. We aim to live in joyful simplicity asking each day for our daily bread, trusting that our needs will be met by a loving God who is committed to caring for us and all creation. Aware of our human limitations, our fear of an unknown future, and the inadequacies of human solutions to the problems facing all humanity, our faith teaches us not to be afraid as we endeavour to ‘Do whatever he tells us’ (John 2:5).

Living in Hope
Mary, standing at the foot of the cross teaches us to hope. When she embraced her dead Son and all seemed lost, she continued to believe and trust in God’s power to save. The heart-broken disciples were sustained by her compassionate presence and by her encouraging them even in their brokenness, to hope and pray that the promise made to them by the lord would be fulfilled. As Servants Of Mary, we live in that same joyfully hope. In our troubled and fragmented world where Christ suffers death every day in people broken by the events of life, we seek to reach out in compassion, offering them the hope we have found in a God who sustains all creation in love, and with whom it is possible to have a loving and transforming relationship in time and eternity.

 


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Charism
Spirituality
History

Living in community
All Servites take inspiration from the seven laymen men who founded our Order (1245) . United by their common love for Mary the mother of Jesus, they came together to live in peace and unity with God and with each other. The example of our first fathers teaches us to live together in loving friendship, a friendship which we desire freely to share with others in Servite hospitality. We invite others to share our community space for prayer, companionship and ministry, and by holding people in our personal prayer, we offer a hospitality of the heart.

Connecting with the World
The ideal of peace and unity bequeathed to us by our founders teaches us to seek ways of bringing reconciliation to a world fractured by conflict and injustice. We try to live with our Sisters in relationships of harmony, forgiveness and healing. Affirmed by the relationships formed in community we are strengthened to become agents of peace and reconciliation for all those we meet in the flow of our lives. Conscious that God is good and that all creation is imbued with the spirit of God’s goodness, we recognise that being deeply respectful of all creation is a way of loving God and our neighbour.

Collaborative ministry with the Lay Faithful
As our Founders were all lay people, we have a special regard for the lay faithful and wish to find ways of working with them in ministry. We sharing life and prayer with our lay Associates and are enriched by their goodness and fidelity to the Gospel.

Learning to Pray
Our prayer is modelled on Mary, the faithful woman who listened to the voice of the Spirit in the centre of her being. We value daily times of personal prayer when seek God in the words of scripture and in the stillness of our hearts. Each day in community we pray together the Prayer of the Church thus sharing with all God’s people in a continuous hymn of praise to the Father. St Juliana Falconieri (1270-1341) the first Servite woman, had a particular understanding of and love for the Eucharistic life of Christ. From her we learn to value the Communion with God and all humanity that comes through the breaking and sharing of the Bread of Life.


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Servite Spirituality

  • Is incarnational
  • Is based in sacramental theology,
  • Is characterized by compassion in the spirit of Mary
  • Addresses whatever is happening in the global community
  • Is manifested in hospitality
  • Honors the sacredness of creation

Servite Spirituality is based on the theology of Incarnation and Redemption. We are immersed in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus as it is lived among us today. We place ourselves in the company of others who experience the same call to live in faith, relying on the promise that God is always with us.

We have been initially blessed with the oil of catechumens in Baptism and signed with chrism in Confirmation to carry the light of Christ into the world. We have been nourished in the Eucharist for the work of evangelization. These ways of living sacramentally have given us the means to realize the presence of the Holy Spirit consecrating us and guiding us throughout life.

Mary sought God in the very center of her being. She treasured the word of God, pondering the profound truths and promises of her rich scriptural tradition. She prayed with the themes of Hebrew spirituality and the words of other women who prefigured her in waiting and believing, hoping and serving. Her compassion flowed from a contemplative spirit. She was a true disciple and our model for combining prayer and action in servant leadership.

At any given time our spirituality is deepened by whatever is happening in the worldwide community. Our consciousness of current trends affects our faith response to the needs of others. This global connectedness arises from our internationality as a Congregation. We are one in prayer and action on behalf of justice throughout the Servite family.

Our way of life is characterized by warm hospitality lived within extended families, membership in parish communities and through relationships developed over long periods of time. What we know and live today is the gathered wisdom of many holy people. We invite others to dialogue and shared ministry in openness and willingness to learn from each other. All are honored and welcome at Servite tables.

Servite Spirituality is also shaped by the environment. We pray in the context of rural, urban and suburban life. From the quiet of the remote area of our beginning in Cuves, France to the busyness of large metropolitan areas, our awareness of the complexity of life is heightened. We witness to gospel values in and among people of all cultures, occupations and lifestyles. We promote the sacredness of life and seek to insure its protection throughout all of God's creation.

 


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A Brief History of the Servants of Mary of London (Servite Sisters)

1840-1845

Fr. Nicholas Chantôme is appointed parish priest at Cuves, in the diocese of Langres, in eastern France. It is his dream to start a school for girls. He shares his dream with Mlle. Brocard, a wealthy woman of nearby Langres, who provides funds to purchase property and to build a hermitage. The hermitage consists of three small rooms, a kitchen, a large classroom, and a dormitory. Two young lay teachers, Barbe Marie Guyot and Francoise Clotilde Plique, agree to live in the hermitage and take on the work. By 1844 there are 35 pupils attending the school, 20 of whom are boarders.

In June 1845, three of the five women now teaching at the school begin a novitiate year with the goal of forming a missionary congregation called the Sisters of Calvary. The three women are Barbe Marie Guyot – Sister Marie of Calvary; Françoise Clotilde Plique – Sister Elizabeth; Anna Garnier – Sister Louise. The rule they follow is based on that of the Third Order of the Servites. At the end of the novitiate year, the three “sisters” do not feel ready to make any commitment by vows. They are received as Third Order Secular Servites and agree to continue with the work.



1849-1864

On June 26, 1849, at the age of 28, Sister Marie Guyot died. There are by this date about 40 “sisters” in preparation. Sr. Elizabeth Garnier leaves in the months following Sr. Marie’s death, and with the appointment of a new superior, Mother Jean Vannier, and the loss of the best teacher, a crisis occurs in the community and the school. When Fr. Nicholas Chantôme, the original inspiration of the congregation, is excommunicated for his revolutionary activities in support of the 1848 French Revolution, many of the “sisters” leave and the school begins to empty.

In 1851, two sisters are sent to London to learn English in order to take up missionary work. Later that same year, four more sisters join them – they are all living in St. Giles (a slum area) of London, in rooms rented from the Oratorian Fathers. By September of 1852, all of the remaining sisters in Cuves leave to settle in London and learn English.

Over the next four years, these sisters begin to teach in a “Ragged School” (for the poorest of St. Giles’ poor) newly opened by the Oratorian Fathers. There are 500 pupils, mostly poor Irish immigrants, being taught in the Ragged School located in a disused factory in Dunn’s Passage. The sisters also begin an orphanage, St. Ann’s Home, for girls; an Industrial School for girls – St. Philip’s Home; and St. Martha’s Home for women and girls “who had lost their character or were in danger,” that is prostitutes.

In 1857, with the permission of Cardinal Manning of the Westminster Diocese, Fr. Faber, Superior of the Oratory, receives the first vows of the sisters. The name of the congregation was changed to “Sisters of Compassion.” In 1860, the sisters move to their first convent – St. Wilfrid’s, Cale Street, London.

Mother Jean Vannier resigns as superior of the congregation in 1861 and the sisters elect Sr. M. Philomena Morel as superior. Three years later, the Sisters of Compassion are aggregated to the Order of the Servants of Mary (Servites) and again change their name to become Mantellate of the Third Order of Servants of Mary. Twenty-four sisters and nine novices receive the Servite habit, becoming an autonomous religious congregation. Two Servite priests, Fr. Oppi and Fr. Morini, from Italy, arrive in London, England to become chaplains to the Servite Sisters.

1867-1893

On June 4, 1867, four sisters are sent to Le Raincy, France, to begin an orphanage called Maison St. Joseph. Misunderstandings with the benefactors of St. Wilfrid’s in 1868 cause the sisters left in London to move to West Grinstead, in the Southwark diocese. In 1871, the sisters are able to buy a suitable house in Stamford Hill, North London, and the motherhouse is moved back to London to St. Mary’s Priory.

In 1871, six sisters are sent to Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA, to teach in the school of the Servite Fathers. This foundation is closed in 1874 and most of the sisters return to England.
In 1875, the sisters gathered for a General Chapter in London, decide to buy back the original convent of the Hermitage in Cuves, France. Ten years later, in 1885, Maison St. Marie, the boarding school built at Cuves is purchased in order to open again the boarding school.

A second attempt is made in 1892 to establish the Servite Sisters in the USA, first at St. Michael’s in Wisconsin, and in 1893 at Mt. Vernon, Indiana. The community in Mt. Vernon, IN, becomes the seed of the present American Province.

1894-1910

Mother M. Philomena Morel, the first Prioress General of the Servite Sisters, dies on March 28, 1894. Mother M. Antonia Loughnan is elected Prioress General in August of that year. In the meantime, the sisters open an orphanage in Gratzen, Bohemia, at the invitation of the Servite Fathers.

Anti-religious laws in France, passed in 1903, cause the closure of the three convents there. Some sisters go to Uccle, Belgium and begin a school. Others go to England. In 1910, Maison St. Marie, Cuves, France, is sold.

1914-1949

At the outbreak of World War I, three sisters return to France to work in a hospital at Dieulefit. Refugees from Belgium are given hospitality at St. Mary’s Priory, London. In 1920, the Servite Sisters from France return to Montmorency but are not allowed to teach. However, the community and school at Uccle, Belgium, continue.

In 1938, the congregation has grown large enough that three provinces are established – the English, American, and Franco-Belgian provinces. With the outbreak of World War II, communications between the provinces is severely limited.

1952-2005

Five sisters leave London to make a foundation in Browns Town, Jamaica, in 1952 where they open a boarding school. The following year, four sisters from the French Province set sail for Canada to open a school at Brook Island.

Thirty-four professed sisters of the Congregation of Our Lady of Dolours from Brussels and Wezembeek, Belgium, are received into our congregation by amalgamation in 1962, and become part of the Franco-Belgian Province.

From 1967-1971, three Canadian sisters begin, and close, a mission in Guatemala. In 1967, Servite Sisters of the English Province accept the first foundation in Wales at Chirk. That same year, twenty-six sisters of the Congregation of Our Lady of Compassion (St. Denis, France) all living in England, are received into the English Province of the Congregation. In 1970, the first convent in Scotland opens at North Berwick.

From 1972-1977, three Canadian sisters again attempt to establish a mission in Central America, this time in Peru. As with Guatemala, the mission lasts only for a short period of time.

In 1985, the English Province establishes a foundation in Benburb, Ireland. And, in 1990, three sisters from France leave for Butembo, Congo (Zaire) to make a foundation with the poor.

The Congregation of Our Lady of Compassion, the Servite Sisters of Jolimont, Belgium, join our congregation in 1995 and become a region under the Generalate. In 2004, Sr. Rose Chang of Jamaica is elected the ninth Prioress General.

 




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