On the path to Sainthood in St Helens

Celebrations in Sutton on Saturday 21 May

This Saturday, 21 May, will see celebrations in the Parish of St Anne and Blessed Dominic, Sutton, St Helens, when Sister Elizabeth Prout is remembered with a special Pilgrimage Day including Mass at 2.30 pm.

Sister Elizabeth, who is buried in the Shrine at the St Helens church, was a Roman Catholic convert from the Church of England; famous for her work with poor mill workers and refugees from the Irish potato famine she was branded ‘revolutionary’ in her own lifetime. She lived from 1821 to 1864 and worked with the poor in Manchester’s 19th century slums, she has been called a Victorian Mother Teresa.

She also established a Religious Order, the Sisters of the Cross and Passion, or Passionist Sisters, who helped women escape poverty by training them in skills so they could earn their own living. The order now has more than 300 sisters in more than 10 countries, including Argentina, Peru and Chile, where the sisters are renowned for their work with the poor.

It is hoped that Sister Elizabeth will one day be declared a Saint by the Roman Catholic Church. In 2008 a fourteen year investigation into her life of ‘heroic virtue’ drew to a conclusion and a total of ten boxes of documents were taken to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome. Now the Holy See is carrying out its own investigation before she can be declared ‘Venerable’ and two approved miracles will be required for her beatification and canonisation.

The Mass, which is open to all, will be celebrated by Passionist Priest, Father John Kearns and will give thanks for Sister Elizabeth’s life and work and prayers will be said for the Cause for canonisation. Sister Eileen White from the Sisters of the Cross and Passion will speak about Sister Elizabeth’s life. Refreshments will be provided afterwards.

Father Paul Francis Spencer, the postulator of the cause says: ‘people see Sister Elizabeth as an example, someone who shows you how to respond in a Christian way to situations of real needs of people who are in poverty, or lack of education, those neglected by society. She sends an important message.’

All are welcome to attend the Mass and to pray at the Shrine where Sister Elizabeth is buried together with two nineteenth century Passionist Priests also on the path to Sainthood: Blessed Dominic Barberi and Father Ignatius Spencer.