Community of St John Baptist

Community of St John Baptist

The Community of St. John Baptist (CSJB), also known as the Sisters of Mercy, or formerly Clewer Sisters, is an Anglican religious order of Augustinian nuns.



The Community was founded in England in 1852 by Harriet Monsell (the first Superior), a clergy widow, and Thomas Thellusson Carter, a priest at Windsor. The purpose of the order was to help marginalised women - mainly single mothers, the homeless and sex trade workers - by providing them shelter and teaching them a trade. The work of the sisters expanded to include administering and working in orphanages, schools, convalescent hospitals, soup kitchens, and women's hostels.[1]

The Community is conspicuous amongst Anglican communities for its meteoric rise in numbers from the date of the foundation. By the time of Carter's death in 1901 there were some 300 Sisters. At its height, the Community had some forty-five priories and branch houses.

CSJB in the United Kingdom

The present United Kingdom house is located at Begbroke, near Kidlington in Oxfordshire. The Sisters expect to move to Cuddesdon in 2011 where they are building a new house in the grounds of the Anglican seminary, Ripon College Cuddesdon. They are also endowing a new chapel for the seminary which will be part of the Community's lasting legacy to the Church after it has completed its work. Since 1996 the remaining sisters of another Order, the Community of the Companions of Jesus the Good Shepherd have been living with the SSJB sisters, and although the two Orders remain quite distinct, they share accommodation and many other aspects of community life. If the move to Cuddesdon goes ahead, it will involve both groups of sisters.

CSJB in the United States

The Community expanded to the United States in 1874, following the generous donation of property by the family of the first American CSJB sister. Work was needed amongst German immigrants in New York's Lower East Side, and the community moved there. The American Mother House was eventually established at Mendham, New Jersey. Work in New York was ended in 1976. In 2007, however, the Sisters returned to Manhattan, opening a branch house at the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin (Times Square, New York).

The main priory at 82 West Main Street, Mendham, includes a retreat house for guests and also the community's historic church, all set in over 20 acres of land. Built in 1908 in the 'Tudor Revival' style, it was added to the American National Register of Historic Places (reference number 07000356) in 2007.[2] It's architects were James Layng Mills and John C. Greenleaf.


Apart from ministries of social aid and assistance, members of the order live a life of prayer, and operate retreat facilities as well as providing retreats and spiritual direction. In these endeavours, they are guided by the Augustinian Rule's emphasis on community spirit.


  1. ^ Anglican Religious Communities Yearbook: 2004-2005. Norwich: Canterbury Press, 2003.
  2. ^|title=National[dead link] Register Information System|date=2009-03-13|work=National Register of Historic Places|publisher=National Park Service}}

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