Sister Helena with Nurse Blossom
The Toronto convent where lay anointers are trained is the Mother House of the historic Sisterhood of St. John the Divine, which was founded in 1884. Next door is St. John’s Rehab Hospital, the convalescent hospital founded by the sisters. Today, it provides specialized rehabilitation services to 160 inpatients and a large and growing number of outpatients. This year, St. John’s celebrates its 75th anniversary.
Four sisters provide spiritual and compassionate care to all hospital patients and run the hospital’s Anglican chapel. Patients and staff use the chapel, which also provides a Wednesday morning Anglican eucharist with laying on of hands and an ecumenical Sunday service. In addition, the chapel has a Muslim prayer mat and a blank wall facing Mecca. On Fridays, priests bring communion to Roman Catholic patients, and the sisters provide Sabbath candles to patients of the Hebrew faith.
Adjoining the sisters’ living quarters is a guest house that accommodates families of out-of-town hospital patients and an eight-bed infirmary for the nuns. It is staffed with nurses and personal-care workers, whose oldest charge, Sister Constance, is 108.