Why are you called Passionist Sisters?
The official name of our congregation is the Sisters of the Cross and Passion. But from our earliest days, the sisters were always associated, spiritually and in ministry, with the Passionist Congregation of priests and brothers. We wear the Passionist sign, share in the charism of St. Paul of the Cross, and are part of the larger Passionist family. We are, indeed, Passionist Sisters.
What ministries are Passionist Sisters involved in?
Our Constitution tells us that our main work, or ministry, is to bring the compassion of Christ to the suffering people of our day. We do this in a variety of ways, depending on the gifts and talents of each sister. Some work closely with the Passionist men in preaching or retreat work. Others are involved in parish work, usually education or pastoral care. Some of the sisters have worked in dioceses in various offices, while others give direct service to the poor and needy. Common to all our ministries is a commitment to the Church, or to non-profit agencies sponsored by the Church or by our own community.
Where are Passionist Sisters found?
We are an international congregation, living and working in several countries. The largest portion of the Congregation is in Great Britain, specifically England, Ireland and Scotland. Our Lady of Dolors province, in the United States, has houses in Connecticut and Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Tennessee and Jamaica, West Indies. Our other provinces are in South America, in Chile, Argentina and Peru. We also have sisters working in Australia, Botswana and Papua New Guinea.
What makes Passionist Sisters different from other sisters?
Ultimately, what makes us different is who we are as people. We are a community of women who were all attracted to the same spirituality and the same charism. So, in addition to who we are, our unique qualities come from our Passionist spirituality, and our united dedication to the charism of our foundress, Elizabeth Prout. This charism calls us to work for the sake of the poor and needy, especially women. In many other ways, lifestyle, relationship to the Church, vows, community, we are probably very similar to other groups of women religious.
Who was Elizabeth Prout?
Elizabeth Prout is the woman who founded the Sisters of the Cross and Passion. She was born in England in 1820. As an infant, Elizabeth was baptized into the Anglican Church, but became a Catholic in her early 20s. Filled with compassion for the poor mill workers who were victimized by the Industrial Revolution, Elizabeth gathered together a group of dedicated women to serve their needs, both educational and spiritual. This was the beginning of the Sister of the Cross and Passion. The first sisters pronounced their vows in November 1852. Despite years of financial and personal hardship, Elizabeth remained faithful to her vision for the community until her death.
Unique to her vision was the conviction that religious life should be available to the very people the community served; the poor and disenfranchised. Consequently, the Sisters never required a dowry from those who wanted to enter the community, nor were there any educational requirements. Each woman who felt called to join was welcomed graciously. Then, the gifts and talents of each individual determined what work she would undertake in the name of the community.
Today, this might seem merely sensible, but in 19th century England, such an approach was nothing short of revolutionary. Elizabeth Prout was a strong and visionary woman who didn’t hesitate to do something new for the sake of the Gospel. The process of beatification for Elizabeth Prout was begun a few years ago.
How would I find out how to join the Passionist Sisters?
The process of joining the community is a journey of discernment for both the individual and the community. The first step is to make contact with someone on the vocation team to find out about us first hand. Further steps would involve visiting and spending some time, then living with us for a time before formally beginning a formation period, which usually is two years long. Following the formation process is a period of temporary profession.
Are there ways to connect with the Passionist Sisters that do not involve exploring a vocation?
Yes, click here to read more about the Associates of the Cross and Passion.
How would I find out what the Passionist Sisters are doing to change unjust systems in our world today?
At this site, you might look at the information about the various ministries of the sisters. Also, there is a link to Passionists International, which will give you information on what is being done by the entire Passionist family, women and men, as an NGO with the United Nations.