Community of St Mary (CSM), Southern Province

Introduction to the community

The Community of St Mary began in New York in 1865. It was the first women’s monastic community founded in the United States, and now has three provinces. The Southern Province has its mother house in Sewanee, Tennessee, and a branch house in the Mountain Province, Philippines. This province stems from the “Martyrs of Memphis.”

The primary focus of our life together is prayer and worship, with a special emphasis on the relationship between spirituality and care for creation. Our ministries are guided by the saying: “Care for the body, the soul, and the earth.” The sisters gather four times a day for corporate prayer, and Eucharist. We also nourish ourselves and others with programs on spiritual and environmental topics, contemplative prayer services on environmental concerns, spiritual direction, meditation, spiritual reading, Bible study and retreats.

The sisters take the three-fold vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. We live in community and are guided by Benedictine values as expressed in our Rule, Constitution, and Customary. We hold all things in common and aim to practice good environmental stewardship. Worship, Benedictine hospitality, parish programs, Organic Prayer Internships for young people, and mission are important components of our community’s life.

Sr Ines CSM(S)

Contact details

931 598 0046
931 598 9519

Main house:
1100 St Mary’s Lane, Sewanee, TN 37375, USA

St Mary Convent:
St Mary the Virgin, St Mary’s Convent, 2619 Sagada, Mt Province, Philippines

Community information

Date of foundation:

Bishop Visitor: Rt Revd John Bauerschmidt, Bishop of Tennessee


Sister Mary Hilary CSM, Ten Decades of Praise, DeKoven Foundation, Racine, WI, 1965

James Waring, Saint Mary’s, the Sewanee Sisters and their School, Sewanee Trust, 2010

Third Order, Fellowship, Associates

Associates are a fellowship of men and women who help CSM through friendship, prayer, support and by their dedicated lives in the world. Each associate writes his/her own rule of life, according to guidelines. We offer associates hospitality, retreats and spiritual companionship.

Oblates are a fellowship of men and women who pattern their lives on the monastic tradition of prayer and service. They live as lay monastics in the world, representing and extending the ministry of the Community. Oblates undertake a two-year formation, support the Community, work closely with the sisters, and live alongside the Community for at least a week out of each year.


Prioress: Sister Madeleine Mary CSM
Assumed office 2013


Sisters in USA:
Sister Elizabeth Grace

Sisters in Philippines:
Sister Ines

Novices: 1 (Sister Hannah Aloysius)
Members who have died since the last Yearbook:

24 May 2017 – Sister Margaret, aged 84, professed 21 years
3 Jan 2020 – Sister Mary Zita, aged 88, professed 56 years