By Mark Michael
The Anglican Church of Canada’s largest religious order invites women ages 22 to 40 to “spend a year living in God’s rhythm.” The Sisterhood of St. John the Divine will welcome the first class of its Companions on the Way program (which it has also called Companions on an Ancient Path) to the Toronto convent in September.
Up to ten companions will participate in the community’s four daily services, eat meals together, and share recreation time with the sisters. They will spend time in study each day, participating in classes in monastic spirituality and the missional church at nearby Wycliffe College. For part of each week the companions will serve others in the community, especially the residents of St. John’s Rehab, which the order founded. Once a month they will meet with a spiritual director.
The Rev. Canon Sister Constance Joanna Gefvert, coordinator of the program, hopes participants will be equipped by the experience to serve God in various ways: “We feel this program answers a need that is expressed by young people in our church: how to be more grounded in their spiritual life and also to develop skills that will be useful in pioneering ministries that they may be involved in.”
Sister Constance Joanna, a former reverend mother of the sisterhood, teaches monastic and missional theology at Wycliffe, Canada’s largest Anglican seminary. She said this program’s partnership with the seminary will provide an opportunity for rigorous study and ministerial formation that is unusual for initiatives of its kind.
She believes the program can help renew the church in a time of widespread spiritual challenges.
“Companions on the Way is a unique expression of new monasticism within an established community that speaks to the next generation of Christians in an innovative way and is critical for the life of the ‘ancient future church’ we are called to renew,” she said.
Companions will receive free room and board as well as a small stipend, and they will have one day off each week. The program is open to women in the body of Christ who participate regularly in a spiritual community, and non-Canadians may apply if they provide proof of health insurance.
Sister Constance Joanna said several participants have already been admitted and are planning to join the community in the fall. Applications are due June 15.