In 1865, through perseverance and hard work with the poor in New York City, the five founding sisters convinced Bishop Horatio Potter to receive them as a monastic community. Not since the dissolution of the English monasteries in the 16th century had an Anglican bishop dared to officially constitute a religious community — one meant to be a true monastic body, not just a philanthropic sorority. The Episcopal Church was slow in giving full recognition, and our place in the Church was not truly affirmed until 1878, when the yellow fever epidemic in Memphis killed Sister Constance and three other sisters (along with several Episcopal, Roman Catholic and Methodist clerics) who had sought out and nursed the abandoned sick and dying. (Lesser Feasts and Fasts, Sept. 9)
Although it required “good works” to make our order acceptable to the mid-19th century Episcopal Church, ministry to the outside world was not the driving force behind Mother Harriet and the other founding sisters. Rather, they were called by Christ to live in contemplation and communion with God. Because they left all things or God, trusting their lives completely into His hands, they ventured many ministries for His glory. All our work and outreach flows from prayer, from lives devoted first to our journeys as sisters, led by our love of Christ. We support and strengthen one another in discerning His will, resting in simple faith in his power and love.
Offsite Links to Historical Documents regarding CSM: