Since the first days of the Congregation’s history, its mission has been to reach out to people who suffer. Inspired by and identifying with Jesus who suffered on the Cross and rose again in triumph, sisters sought to bring comfort and hope to people enduring the pain of poverty, ill-health, social exclusion, ignorance and low self-esteem. In the early days they lived in the mill towns of England and Scotland, worked in schools for poor children, taught young working class women good housekeeping, sheltered them in hostels, visited poor families in their own houses and educated people in the Catholic faith. As education was seen as the way forward in combating ignorance and empowering poor people, in time the Sisters of the Cross and Passion became best known for their many schools and colleges. They could also be found inserted in local parishes, as befrienders, unofficial counsellors and support in times of trouble.
Over the years, initiatives taken to live out this mission have been characterized by compassion, a strong sense of justice, struggle and courage as the group spread to other countries bringing the same message.
Today, our small congregation can be found in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, in the USA, Chile, Peru and Argentina, Australia and Jamaica as well as Botswana. Sisters also engage in work in Papua New Guinea and Bosnia & Herzegovina and for many years served in Sweden.
The glue that joins together the various activities, projects and ways of life experienced throughout the congregation today is concern for the pain of the people and the pain of the planet. Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation are the flames that fuel our Passionist spirituality and inspire meaningful activity and life choices.
Many sisters participate in the development of parish life, collaborating with other groups, initiating new expressions of faith and charity.
We have sisters working in health ministries such as hospice and palliative care for vulnerable terminally ill people, supporting the sick as hospital chaplains or alongside victims of violence and trauma as counsellors and psychotherapists. In different counties, sisters support prisoners by their prison ministry or work as advocates for the well being of refugees and asylum seekers.
Retreat ministry is one of the most constant activities we have engaged in. A Retreat house is an oasis of tranquillity where men and women can find a refuge to restore burnt out energies, heal painful experiences and come to know their God in greater depth. We run retreat houses in Connecticut, USA, in Larne, N. Ireland and in Ilkley, England and sisters are also likewise engaged in Memphis, USA.
One of our sisters is engaged in working at the UN as part of Passionists International, an NGO whose goal is to lobby against injustice and the pillaging of the earth by making their impact known at UN level.
The original pattern of living inserted in local poor and working class areas still persists and especially in Argentina, Chile and Peru we have many communities of committed women happily working and living alongside the people, in city and countryside, participating in parish activity and catechesis and engaged in development work. This can involve collaborating in setting up health clinics, libraries, micro businesses, technical schools and other initiatives to empower people so that they can have a better life. .
In Botswana the plight of Aids orphans is addressed and in Papua New Guinea one of our sisters has been engaged in medical work for many years.
In all this we are trying to follow the example of our foundress, Elizabeth Prout, a social activist of her time, whose main concern was the plight of the poor in Industrial Britain. To be engaged in this way demands that we live a life supported by one another and nurtured by prayer. The pain of the planet in this age of consumerism and globalization is particularly poignant and we struggle with this challenge as it can only be addressed by a complete change of life-style by each and every one of us.