Delayed Vocations: Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary, UK

From my “UK Office,” as I’ve dubbed her:

The Benedictines I have visited before always seemed too “institutional,” but these nuns, The Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary (in the UK) are not like that at all.

They have Constitutional Enclosure (not Papal Enclosure).

They have the beautiful sung Divine Office of the Benedictines, but also have the warm, family-like community life of the Augustinians, the joy and simplicity of the Franciscans, and the love of Mary of the Visitandines!

Each sister is accepted for who she is, and Mother isn’t some distant figure, she can often be found washing dishes in the kitchen!

They wear a habit and veil all the time: long black habit, black scapular, white wimple (head-dress) with a collar, white under-veil and black top veil. Professed nuns also wear a ring on the right. They wear a rosary at the waist to symbolize their special devotion to Mary.

Meals are in silence with one nun reading.

Their chapel has large windows for plenty of natural light and they also have a large garden where you might catch a glimpse of foxes.

Vocational discerners are not shut in a room and forgotten about. They are given a guest room to provide them with some space for thinking and reading, but apart from attending the Divine Office and daily Mass, discerners may be given permission to enter the enclosure. They can eat with the sisters (the food is very good) and help with some basic aspects of their work (cleaning dishes, preparing vegetables, and hanging up laundry).

The age limits mentioned are flexible. Each vocation is considered individually.

One is allowed to talk to all of the sisters (if you want to) about their life and work and ask any questions. They are happy to offer advice/guidance to assist any vocational discerner to find where she might be called, even if it is not to their particular community.

All of the photos on the site were taken by a nun of the convent.

Mrs Cloisters OP
Lay Dominican


I believe this community are part of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. They were received en bloc into the Catholic Church several years ago. They originally lived with the nuns of the Solesmes Congregation at Ryde Abbey on the Isle of Wight until they found their own home in Birmingham. They used to be part of the Anglican religious order, the Community of St Mary the Virgin at Wantage near Oxford.

I believe that is correct.

My UK Office states that one is not required to become a member of the Ordinariate to join them. She also states that the warmth of Augustinian community life that they had as Anglicans is still there.

For all those link hits, they’ve not heard from anyone.

No, I’m sure aspirants don’t have to only come from the Ordinariate. But, when definitively incorporated into the community I would have thought the nun would be a member of the Ordinariate because the community is.

Sadly I have not felt their warmth. I once contacted them, i.e. the original Anglican community, and received a very frosty reception.

Sorry to hear that. They are quite warm and welcoming, according to her. She has been discerning for years, trying to find an Augustinian community with that warmth. Please pray she can get her father’s estate taken care of so she can enter religious life somewhere.

Cut and pasted directly from my UK Office:

"They are Ordinariate nuns, but it’s important that people understand: these nuns are officially recognised and accepted by the Vatican as being fully Catholic. The only difference you actually experience is some uniquely beautiful English elements to their liturgy (such as English “Sarum” plainchant, which was established in 11th century England before the reformation). They have also preserved their warm community life from their Augustinian-Anglican days. The Mistress of Novices of the community, states that: Vocations would not be required to join the ordinariate if they were accepted into the noviciate. She is happy to explain this to anyone who wants to know more.

It’s possible that you may have got a “frosty reception” if you contacted the Anglican community during their painful split. Not all of the community became Catholic, a few members of the Anglican community are still at Wantage. The sisters who wished to become Catholic, wanted to stay at Wantage to look after their ageing Anglican sisters, but they were not allowed to and were told to leave.

They have since received a professed sister who has transferred from another community and was not part of the group from Wantage. She feels at home with them.

The community I met, are welcoming and kind.

The chapel is beautifully simple with a crucifix and statues of Mary and Joseph, there is no “modern art”.

Go and see!"

Can you please explain what your “UK office” means? Office of what? And does it have an address?

A discerner who has experience with UK communities. She was the one who compiled the UK Vocations site we published.

She said your comment made her laugh. She is not an “it”, she said.

Like I said in the first post, I DUBBED her “the UK Office”.

I think our wires are getting crossed. I think we need to use the actual nouns and not pronouns. I don’t know about you but I am getting confused about who ‘it’ and ‘they’ are.

My guess is your lady discerner her in the fair British Isles is looking to join the Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Birmingham. I have never contacted that community. I have actually contacted them once and Mother Winsome, their superior, was extremely charming and gracious. It was the Anglican sisters at Wantage who were quite nasty. While it doesn’t mean it’s the cause of their nastiness they seem to have become infected with liberal Anglicanism, you now the sort where dancing round pots of incense is classed as worship. They also are open to and welcome women being ordained to the priesthood.

So, to be clear my unpleasant experience was with the vestige of sisters at Wantage and not with the Sisters of the BVM in Birmingham

It would be possible, I’m afraid, to read that as saying that members of the Ordinariate are not fully Catholic. The three (I think there are three) personal ordinariates are fully part of the Latin Catholic Church sui iuris; therefore, as part of the Ordinariate of OLOW in England they would most definitely be part of the Catholic Church and be fully Catholic.

That surprised me. I had understood they were a Benedictine community.

I would like to know more. I do not quite understand this. The Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary are part of the Ordinariate. I am not sure, therefore, how a nun in this order would not be a member of the Ordinariate. It seems to me similiar to saying if one became, say, a Poor Clare, you wouldn’t have to become a Catholic.

I can quote from their website about my last two statements: "A Roman Catholic Community for women, following the Rule of St. Benedict, established within the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham (on their homepage here.

Please refer back to the original post where she states that the community is Benedictine, but the warmth of Augustinianism is present.

I have nothing more to say, unless she sends something. Please direct further questions to the sisters themselves. Thank you.

What a wonderful sounding community!
Thank you for posting!:blush:

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