On September 26, the Community of the Sisters of the Church (CSC) will gather at St. Cuthbert’s Anglican Church in Oakville, Ont., to celebrate its 125th anniversary in Canada.
CSC has extended an invitation to all to attend the service, which will also celebrate Michaelmas, the feast of St. Michael and All Angels (the order’s patron). This particular feast day recalls CSC’s arrival in Canada, when, immediately upon debarking in Montreal on September 29th, 1890, Sisters May and Frederica-the first members of CSC to set foot in Canada-attended the Michaelmas eucharist at the city’s Church of St. John the Evangelist.
Diocese of Niagara Bishop Michael Bird will preside over the service at St. Cuthbert’s, and Bishop Emeritus of Niagara Ralph Spence will preach the homily. Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, will also be in attendance.
According to its mission statement, CSC is “an international body of women within the Anglican Communion, living under the gospel values of poverty, chastity, and obedience, desiring to be faithful to the traditions of religious life while exploring new ways of expressing them and of living community life and ministry today.”
Founded in England in 1870 by Mother Emily Ayckbown, the CSC was known then as the Church Extension Association. Responding to “an overwhelming number of requests” to expand their work internationally, Canada was chosen as the Sisters’ first port of call, said a press release. “With its vast multitude of emigrants [Canada] claim[ed] imperatively such help as we may be able to give.” Soon after its establishment in Canada, CSC spread to Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India, and Burma. Today, it operates in four designated provinces: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and the Solomon Islands.
CSC’s ministry has taken on numerous forms in Canada, from clothing depots to feeding programs to the provision of spiritual direction. Its current focus, however, is on education and reconciliation. One of its members, Sister Margaret Hayward works on a part-time basis at the Anglican Church of Canada’s national office in Toronto, where she is involved with healing and reconciliation matters related to Indian residential schools.