Citing financial difficulties, the Anglican Sisters of St. John the Divine (SSJD) and the diocese of Montreal have jointly agreed that the Sisters would withdraw from St. John’s House/Maison St-Jean Montreal at St. Lambert, Que., when the lease expires this June, and move back to the SSJD convent in Toronto.
“The issues leading to this decision are complex; however, both the diocese and the Sisters would like to see us better able to minister in the diocese without being housed in a large but underused facility,” said Bishop Barry Clarke of Montreal, in a statement issued on behalf of Sr. Elizabeth Ann Eckert, SSJD Reverend Mother.”Over the course of the years, the Government of Quebec added school taxes which had to be paid on the property in addition to the lease, adding a further financial burden to the diocese of Montreal, already struggling to continue to minister faithfully to its people.”Last February, the Sisters celebrated the tenth anniversary of their “ministry of prayer and presence” in the diocese.Bishop Clarke said the diocese and the SSJD are exploring new ways for the sisters to make their ministry available not just to the diocese, but to the whole Ecclesiastical Province of Canada. (The Ecclesiastical Province of Canada includes the dioceses of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Montreal, Fredericton, Western Newfoundland, Central Newfoundland and Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador.)”When invited to come, the sisters would like to let others in the diocese know of our availability over a one or two week period and cluster several events together, staying with associates and other friends,” the statement said. “By not having sisters stationed at a house, other sisters would be available to visit and minister and would allow the sisterhood to train more sisters in mission and retreats.”Before operating St. John’s House, the sisters conducted mission work in the parish of St. John the Evangelist in downtown Montreal from 1929 to 1963. The sisters came back in 1998 at the invitation of the diocese and offered a community “committed to being a praying presence.” They preached, taught and led retreats and quiet days. They also participated in ecumenical and inter-faith activities and served on a variety of diocesan committees at the Diocesan Theological College.
The SSJD was founded in 1884 by Hannah Grier Coome and is the only order that is entirely Canadian in origin.