On 30th June 1865, Charlotte Gertrude Ronalds (Sr Gertrude) took her vows as a religious sister, nun, in the Church of England, at St Peter’s Vauxhall. Other women joined her and from this small beginning the St Peter’s Sisterhood began. In the early years there was, understandably, a time of instability as the sisters explored their vocation and in 1867 Sr Gertrude left and joined the Sisters of Mercy at Ditchingham.
Through difficult few years the small community survived and grew. Under the guidance of the parish priest, Fr George Herbert, the new community took the name of the Community of the Mission Sisters of the Holy Name of Jesus, now more simply known as the Community of the Holy Name.
Since those days the Community has had a rich and varied history. By 1887 the order had grown significantly and the sisters moved to Malvern from where they extended their work through branches houses, around England and an African province was also formed.
The sisters were involved in different forms of welfare work, a hostel for young mothers with babies was an important part of their work, pastoral ministry in parishes, retreat work etc. all underpinned by a discipline of prayer.
During the 1970s the community experienced decline as elderly sisters died and there was a drop in vocations. It was necessary to move to smaller premises, and so in 1990 the community moved its convent to Derby.
Although numbers have further declined the sisters maintain their discipline of prayer and service as best as they can.
In recent years the community has found different expressions of life – several sisters have adopted the solitary life, and two sisters have combined the callings of religious and priest within the community.
In 2009 at the invitation of Fr Ian and with the support of the Bishop of Manchester the Community opened a branch house in St Chrysostom’s Parish, and since then we have enjoyed the support and prayer of the sisters in our parish and area.
This year CHN celebrates its 150th anniversary. We congratulate the community on its achievement. It is a time to give thanks for what the community has given to the church and world, and it is a time to pray for the Community as the sisters discern the best way forward for their community.
A special anniversary service is being held in Derby on the Feast of the Holy Name (old calendar) August 7th, and locally we are having a celebration on Sunday October 18th at 5pm at St Chrysostom’s.