Sisterhood of St John the Divine (SSJD)

Introduction to the community

The Sisterhood of St. John the Divine is a monastic community of women within the Anglican Church of Canada. Founded in Toronto, we are a prayer- and gospel-centred monastic community, bound together by the call to live out our baptismal covenant through the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. These vows anchor us in Jesus’ life and the transforming experience of the Gospel. Nurtured by our founding vision of prayer, community and service, we are open and responsive to the needs of the Church and the world, continually seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit in our life and ministries.

St John’s Convent nurtures and supports the life of the whole Sisterhood. Our guest house welcomes individuals and groups who are invited to share in the community’s prayer and liturgy; offers regularly scheduled retreats and quiet days, spiritual direction, and discernment programs for those seeking guidance in their life and work; and provides Sisters to preach, teach, speak, lead retreats and quiet days in the Diocese of Toronto and across Canada. Our programs help people build bridges between secular culture, the Church, and the monastic tradition.

The Sisterhood witnesses to the power of Christ’s reconciling and forgiving love through the gospel imperatives of prayer, spiritual guidance, hospitality, justice, peace, care for creation, ministering to those in need, and promoting unity, healing, and wholeness.

The Sisters advocate for a vision of health care at the St. John’s Rehab site of Sunnybrook Hospital which expresses SSJD’s values in a multi-faith, multi-cultural setting. The Sisters provide spiritual and pastoral support for patients, staff and volunteers.

Through our prayer and spirituality, outreach to others, pastoral and spiritual care, community life and stewardship we are celebrating more than 135 years of Prayer, Love and Service.

St John’s House in the Diocese of British Columbia is a community of Sisters committed to being a praying presence in the Diocese. Prayer, intentional community, hospitality, and mission are at the heart of our life in the Diocese and beyond.

Sisterhood of St John the Divine group waving

Contact details

Website:
www.ssjd.ca
Telephone:
416 226 2201 ext. 301
Fax:
416 222 2131

Main house:
St John’s Convent, 233 Cummer Avenue, Toronto, Ontario M2M 2E8, Canada
Guesthouse email: guesthouse@ssjd.ca

St John’s House:
3937 St Peter’s Road, Victoria, British Columbia V8P 2J9
Tel: 250 920 7787
Fax: 250 920 7709
E-mail: bchouse@ssjd.ca

Community information

Date of foundation:
1884

Bishop Visitor: Most Revd Linda Nicholls, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada

Publications

Sister Eleonora SSJD, A Memoir of the Life and Work of Hannah Grier Coome, Mother-Foundress of the Sisterhood of St John the Divine, Toronto, Canada,
OUP, London, 1933 (out of print).

The Sisterhood of St John the Divine 1884-1984, published 1931 as A Brief History; 4th revision 1984, (out of print).

Sister Constance Joanna SSJD, From Creation to Resurrection: A Spiritual Journey, Anglican Book Centre, Toronto, 1990.

Sister Constance SSJD, Other Little Ships: The memoirs of Sister Constance SSJD, Patmos Press, Toronto, 1997.

Sister Thelma-Anne McLeod SSJD, In Age Reborn, By Grace Sustained, Path Books, Toronto, 2007

Dr Gerald D Hart, St John’s Rehab Hospital, 1885-2010, the Road to Recovery, York Region Printing, Autora, ON, 2010

Jane Christmas & Sister Constance Joanna SSJD (editors), A Journey Just Begun: The Story of an Anglican Sisterhood, Dundurn, 2015.

Third Order, Fellowship, Associates

Our approximately seven hundred Associates are women and men who follow a Rule of Life and share in the ministry of the Sisterhood. The Sisterhood of St. John the Divine owes its founding to the vision and dedication of the clergy and lay people who became the first Associates of SSJD. A year of discernment is required before being admitted as an Associate to see if the Associate Rule helps the person in what she/he is seeking; and to provide the opportunity to develop a relationship with the Sisters and to deepen his or her understanding and practice of prayer. The Associate Rule provides a framework for the journey of faith. There are three basic commitments: belonging to a parish; the practice of prayer, retreat, study of scripture, and spiritual reading; and the relationship with SSJD. Write to the Associate Director nearest you for further information.

The 23 Oblates of the Community are women who wish to make promises of prayer and service in partnership with the Sisterhood. Each Oblate develops her own Rule of Life in partnership with the Oblate Director, her spiritual director, and a support group. A year of discernment is also required, as well as an annual residency program. Write to The Reverend Mother at the Convent in Toronto for more information.

Companions are women age 21 and up who wish to explore an expression of contemporary monasticism rooted in the Anglican tradition and spend 11 months living in God’s rhythm. They may be discerning next steps on their journey or wanting to experience life in community. They will have an 11-month adventure living alongside the sisters as they follow Jesus on the road of prayer, community, learning, service, and creative enjoyment.

Companions will develop a rhythm of life including public and private prayer, engage in service to others, and learn to live in intentional community. In addition, they will:

  • cultivate an appreciation for the countercultural values of prayerfulness and service
  • deepen their rootedness and spiritual intimacy with God and each other in community
  • discover a personal path to spiritual growth and transformation
  • discern individual gifts and vocations

Room and board are provided by the Sisterhood. Companions, in turn, use their gifts to share in the work of the Sisterhood’s ministry. They also have a weekly day off, free time each day, two retreats during the year, and vacation time after New Year’s and Easter.

Leadership

Reverend Mother: Sister Elizabeth Rolfe-Thomas SSJD
Assumed office 6 May 2015

Prioress: Sister Helen Claire Gunter SSJD

Membership

Sister Wilma Grazier
Sister Beryl Stone
Sister Doreen McGuff
Sister Patricia Forler
Sister Jocelyn Mortimore
Sister Margaret Ruth Steele
Sister Sarah Jean Thompson
Sister Anitra Hansen
Sister Jessica Kennedy
Sister Constance Joanna Gefvert (priest)
Sister Elizabeth Ann Eckert (Novice Director)
Sister Brenda Jenner
Sister Anne Norman
Sister Sue Elwyn
Sister Louise Manson
Sister Dorothy Handrigan
Sister Susanne Prue
Sister Amy Joy
Sister Kathryn (first professed)
Sister Dorothy Grace (first professed)

Novices: 3
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