Today, the Church of England commemorates Harriet Monsell of Clewer.
Of Irish parentage, Harriet Monsell (née O’Brien) was born in 1811. After the death of her clergyman husband, she went to work in a penitentiary at Clewer near Windsor. Here, she was professed as a a Religious in 1852 and became the first Superior of the Community of St John the Baptist. The community grew rapidly under her care carrying out a range of social work in a variety of locations with foundations in India and America by the 1880s. The sisters cared for orphans, ran schools and hospitals, and opened mission houses to parishes. In 1875 Mother Harriet retired as Superior through ill-health, moving to a small hermitage in Folkestone, where she died on Easter Day 1883.
Today, the Community of St John the Baptist continues with the sisters in the UK living at Ripon College, Cuddesdon offering their gifts to God in various ways including parish and retreat work, spiritual direction, and ministry to the elderly.
You can find out more about the sisters’ life now by visiting their website.