Monday, February 20, 2017

Cecile Isherwood

Annie Cecile Ramsbottom Isherwood (1862, in Uxbridge, England - 20 February 1906) was an Anglican nun and founder of the Community of the Resurrection of our Lord in Grahamstown. She was known as Mother Cecile CR (pronounced Cecil).

Annie Isherwood was born in Uxbridge, England on 14 November 1862 to Richard Ramsbottom-Isherwood and Anna Clarendon (born Cox). One of her older siblings was future England rugby international and cricketer Francis Ramsbottom-Isherwood. Annie was educated privately and with the death of her mother in 1870 and father in 1875 she was orphaned by the age of 12. She was brought up by relatives in London where she attended St Peter's Church, Eaton Square.

Isherwood was 21 when Allan Becher Webb, Bishop of Grahamstown, came to preach in St Peter's on the text "I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision", it was at this service she felt called to leave England and undertake work in his diocese. It was agreed that she would start an order of sisters to be known as the Community of the Resurrection of our Lord (not to be confused with the Community of the Resurrection). She was clothed as a novice on St. Mark’s Day, 25 April 1884, and made her final profession on 14 November 1887. Isherwood became the mother superior of the order and was styled Mother Cecile CR.

The Sisters of the Community of the Resurrection of Our Lord opened St Peter's School, the Good Shepherd School a boarding house for the children of railway workers and an orphanage. Mother Cecile CR died on 20 February 1906 at age 43 of cancer exacerbated by overwork.

In 1894 the Community founded the Grahamstown Training College, an institution which played a valuable part in the development of education in southern Africa, it was forced to close down in 1975

Mother Cecile CR is commemorated in the Calendar of saints (Anglican Church of Southern Africa) on the 20th of February. Her image is featured in a stained glass window in St. George's Cathedral, Cape Town.

Propers for Cecile Isherwood - 20 February - Abbess

The Collect.

O God, by whose grace thy servant Cecile Isherwood, enkindled With the fire of thy love, became a shining light in thy Church: Grant that we also may be aflame with the spirit of love and discipline, and may ever walk before thee as children of light; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, and the Holy Ghost, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

The Lesson - Philippians 3:7-15

The Holy Gospel - St. Luke 12:33-37

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