Order of St. Helena contemplates its future

The Order of St. Helena is consolidating, and making plans for a relocation:

By Christmas, the number of Episcopalian nuns living in Augusta [GA] will nearly triple.

The Order of Saint Helena can’t afford to keep its two New York convents open, so the organization voted in Augusta to sell both.

The Augusta convent, established in 1962, will eventually close, too, as the nuns look for a new location to build one, larger facility. But that is likely at least five years away, said Sister Mary Lois, a nun from the Manhattan convent and a member of the order’s leadership council.

The eight Augusta nuns are preparing for 14 nuns from the closing convents in Manhattan and the Hudson Valley.

The convent receives no income from the Episcopal church, but is self-supporting, relying on donations, the guest ministry, honoraria from programs in the community, sisters who are salaried and a small endowment.

Visit their website here where you will find more information about the order, its history, and its plans for the future. An extract:

Due to increasingly overstretched resources, both in terms of finances and a shortage of sisters, we agreed to close both of our New York convents and to move — temporarily — to our Augusta, GA convent, with the intent of looking for a new piece of property in a diocese and location as yet unknown on which to build a new convent. Our intention for the Vails Gate property is to explore ways in which we can realize appropriate income from the property but also attempt to preserve the land from development.

We feel that the Holy Spirit is moving us to relocate in the near future to a new area and to re-found our community and mission. We have written to the House of Bishops that we are looking for a diocese that will welcome us and for a location that is close enough to a major metropolitan area for sisters who are called to urban ministry. We are also interested in finding a sufficiently natural setting to encourage a contemplative lifestyle. We hope to build a purpose-designed, efficient, “green” convent.

What has brought this about? For several years we have been facing an increasingly serious budget deficit, and we have also come to realize that our shortage of “sister power” is draining us of the energy we need to do ministry, both to the church and to our own sisters, some of whom are aging and in need of special assistance.

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