Passionist Sisters of the Cross and Passion
The Sisters of the Cross and Passion (Passionist Sisters) were founded in Manchester, UK in 1852 by Elizabeth Prout with the support of Passionists Fathers Gaudentius Rossi and Ignatius Spencer. It was a response to the plight of children and young people living in the poorest conditions and exploited as cheap labour when the industrial revolution was at its height. Elizabeth, herself a convert to the Catholic faith, had to leave home because her parents disapproved of her decision. This did not quench her enthusiasm. In offering the possibility of religious life to people from among the ‘working classes’ she met with much opposition from local clergy and her small band of dedicated women had to survive many storms including the threat of suppression. Elizabeth’s story and that of Mary Mackillop have much in common as they struggled with power in the Church. Elizabeth was innovative in accepting women without a dowry which opened up religious life to those who could not afford to join the other orders of the time in England.
The Congregation grew and, whilst never numerically large, it spread in many areas of the UK and Ireland as well as to Bulgaria, Chile, Argentina, North America, Peru, Jamaica, Argentina, Sweden, Papua New Guinea, Romania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Melbourne, Australia and more recently to Vietnam. Initially, Sisters were involved in education and social work but now use their gifts and resources in diverse ministries to promote justice, peace and the integrity of creation.
Spiritually we draw inspiration from the love which is shown through the Passion of Jesus Christ and through our action we desire to share the compassion and hope that this love offers for all people.
In Australia, we are engaged in pastoral work with those on the margins in Melbourne. We are also involved in justice and outreach work, Retreat days at Holy Cross in Templestowe and supporting the mission in Vietnam.
Elizabeth formed community to meet a need. She was a woman of courage and a risk taker energised by love and compassion. In our times, we too are called to risk and respond with courage, compassion and love. Elizabeth is our inspiration as we continue to respond to the cries of Earth and people in a way that spreads compassion and empowers all to grow and flourish as part of one community of life.