The Sisters of Charity of St. Paul, the Apostle in Musselburgh
The Sisters first came to Scotland in 1880, to the busy mining village of Birnie Knowe (Auchinleck), Ayrshire, where they taught in the parish school. The stay was short-lived, as they left in 1883. Then, in 1907, the Sisters returned to Scotland to Galashiels and to Musselburgh to teach in the parish schools and to run St. Anne’s Home in Musselburgh.
The ministry of the Sisters was described by Bishop Ullathorne in 1862 as: “every kind of good work”. In the three Scottish houses, the Sisters were involved in the traditional ministry of parish schools and visiting. Musselburgh, however, brought a new ministry – caring for the aged and infirm.
The Sisters came to Musselburgh in 1907 at the request of Lady Anne Kerr to run the “Catholic Convalescent Home and House of Rest, St. Anne’s”. She had established the home by 1903. She was a tireless worker for Catholic Social welfare in Scotland and a benefactor to many different projects. She died in 1931.
Also in 1907, the parish priest, Father McGettigan, asked the Sisters to take over the Parish Primary School, which had opened in 1899 with one hundred and forty pupils. The Sisters remained until 1948, when there was no sister to replace the retiring head teacher.
A diary in the Archives of the Sisters of St. Paul has the following reference:
May 5th 1907. St. Anne’s Convalescent Home at Musselburgh opened
today by three Sisters, Mother Marie Michel (Whitwell) as Superioress.
Two Sisters are due later for the elementary school.”
Later Developments in St. Anne’s Home
St. Anne’s began as a convalescent and rest home. There were several such homes on the east coast as it was thought that the east coast sea air was healthy. Many such homes took children from Edinburgh in need of respite. One twentieth century development in St. Anne’s was the care of priests. For many years, during the mid twentieth century, several priests retired to St. Anne’s Home.
In the 1980’s, resulting from the need to improve the fire precautions, a decision was made to build an extension. On 28th June
1986, St. Anne’s extension and the renovated chapel were officially opened. Archbishop Keith Patrick O’Brien, of St. Andrew’s and Edinburgh concelebrated Mass in the presence of His Eminence, Cardinal Gray. A plaque was unveiled and the extension formally opened by the Countess of Ancram.
The new building, while conforming to fire regulations, also provided the opportunity to include modern, up to date facilities which enabled the standard of care to be upgraded. St. Anne’s Home is now a registered Residential Home. After more than one hundred years, St. Anne’s is maintaining its very high standard of care through its professional management and dedicated staff of nursing, caring, catering and maintenance personnel. The first lay manager was appointed in 1999. The Sisters of St. Paul continue as owners and trustees of St. Anne’s and live as a Community in the convent, welcoming others to the daily Eucharist in the Chapel, the Prayer of the Church and the Prayer Group. They contribute to the pastoral and religious care of St. Anne’s residents.
The Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of St. Paul since 1907
St. Anne’s is now the fourth oldest branch house of the Congregation. Its hundred year history has spanned a period of great change and development in the history of the Sisters of St. Paul. In 1907, when St. Anne’s opened, the Congregation was sixty years old. Four years earlier it had opened its first branch house in Ireland, in Kilfinane, Limerick. In that year, also, the Foundress Mother Genevieve Dupuis died. Numbers of vocations were to increase and the ministries became many and varied. They included such apostolates as teaching in Primary and Secondary schools and Teacher Training College, child care, nursing, homes for the elderly, therapy and counselling, retreats and spiritual direction, special projects such as a hospice for pilgrims, a drop in centre for the homeless, an Irish Welfare Centre, work with refugees and people with addiction problems, and chaplaincies in prisons, hospitals and schools. In 1954 the Sisters went to South Africa and were involved in ministries such as teaching in schools and in a seminary for the training of priests, nursing, formation of the Sisters of St. Brigid, development of catechists, house management. Currently Sisters are involved in two schools, parish work, prison visiting and in a Hospice for AIDS patients. In 1990 the Sisters went to Romania and are involved in parish work and parish schools, SVP groups and catechetics and whatever is needed. Several Romanian women have joined the Sisters. There are six branch houses in Romania. Nowadays the ministries undertaken by the Sisters are so varied that it is difficult to list them all or to categorise them and yet the number of sisters is decreasing.