A group of religious sisters in Maryland is believed to be the first U.S. Episcopal order to become a Catholic religious community.
On Nov. 1, the All Saints Sisters of the Poor professed their perpetual vows at the Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore.
Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien, apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, received the sisters into a newly-erected Diocesan Priory at a special Mass on the feast of All Saints.
The 10 sisters had been part of a religious community within the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland.
After seven years of discernment, they contacted the Archdiocese of Baltimore in 2008 to inquire about the possibility of entering into full communion with the Catholic Church.
The sisters were accepted into the Church individually on Sep. 3, 2009.
Their chaplain, Fr. Warren Tanghe, also entered the Catholic Church and is now a priest for the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
Diane Barr, chancellor for the Archdiocese of Baltimore, explained that the All Saints Sisters of the Poor have been erected into a Diocesan Priory, a new diocesan institute.
When the sisters first entered the Catholic Church, they took private vows because the Church did not recognize their religious community, Barr told EWTN News on Nov. 3.
The sisters had to write a constitution and submit it to the archbishop, who then had to consult with the Congregation for Religious in Rome about erecting a Diocesan Priory before the community could be officially recognized.
The sisters will continue to live in their Catonsville convent, where their order has been since 1917.
Barr explained that the sisters will have the option of entering a U.S. ordinariate once one is established.
However, she said, “it is my understanding that they were planning to stay with the Archdiocese of Baltimore.”
The creation of ordinariates for Anglican communities wishing to enter the Catholic Church was authorized by Pope Benedict XVI in his 2009 apostolic constitution, “Anglicanorum coetibus.”
Ordinariates are similar to dioceses but are typically national in scope. They will allow Anglican communities to retain elements of their heritage and liturgical practices, while fully entering into communion with the Catholic Church.
Barr said that she is not currently aware of any other religious communities that are seeking to enter the Catholic Church.