We are living our Process of Union deeply, taking time to know each other, sharing time, hobbies and conversations, praying and enjoying together to find our common ground.
From the consultation process held in 2019-2020 in both branches, it was clear that one of the most important next steps in the process was to find a way for members to get to know each other and the history and realities of the other branch better, especially in parts of the world where we do not currently co-exist.
At the moment, we are living this process and we want to share it in this web.
As we are present in countries all over the world, we have created regional work groups, named after Mary Ward’s companions. We have divided ourselves by continent to intensify the contact between all of us, and ambassadors from both congregations have been appointed in each country to facilitate communication at continental level.
- Winefrid Wigmore (Asia and Australia): A close friend and loyal companion to Mary Ward until her death, she then helped Mary Poyntz in the writing of Mary Ward’s first biography, the Briefe Relation. Today, this group gathers sisters from India (CJ’s provinces of Allahabad, Bangalore, Delhi and Patna, and IBVM’s India), Korea, Nepal, Bangladesh and Australia.
- Susannah Rookwood (Europe): a courageous woman who played a significant role in the development of the Institute in its early days. She was one of the young women who accompanied Mary Ward to St. Omer in 1609. During her fifteen years in the Institute, she lived between London and continental Europe, crossed the Alps on foot with Mary Ward, was one of the first Roman community, then superior in Naples, where she died suddenly in 1624 at the age of 41. Today, the group that bears her name is formed by sisters from Europe: England (CJ and IBVM), Ireland, Italy, MEP, Romania, Slovakia and Spain (IBVM and CJ).
- Mary Poyntz (Africa) was another of Mary Ward’s first companions. She accompanied her on her final journey to England, was with her when she died in Heworth, near York, then in 1650 founded a new community in Paris. She became the third ‘chief superior’ of the Institute, after Barbara Babthorpe died. This group if composed of religious from Eastern Africa, Mauritius, South Africa & Zambia and Zimbabwe.
- Barbara Babthorpe (America): In 1609, Barbara Babthorpe joined Mary Ward and the small band of women who had come together as Mary’s companions at St Omer. She was named by Mary Ward to be her successor as Chief Superior in 1645, and she died ten years later, in Rome (april, 1654), being buried at the English College. In this group are the sisters from America: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Peru, and United States.
How are we working?
Every province and region has named an Ambassador to these groups. Since December 2020, the ambassadors have being having conversations to get to know each other. Later, they have started to introduce all the members of their provinces. Every group works on their own, deciding what is best for them: it can be through on-line conversations, sharing written presentations or choosing “prayer partners’. The groups are being creative in overcoming difficulties such as language, culture and traditions, and of course dealing with the impossibility of meeting in person because of Covid- 19.
Periodically, they share their news, advances, which you can see in our News section.