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DHS History in Britain


St. Augustine's Convent, High Wycombe

1902 - 1908

At the beginning of the 20th century, oppressive anticlerical laws passed by the French Government forced large numbers of Religious Congregations into exile.

Our first Sisters came to England in 1902 at the welcome of Bishop Riddel of Northampton who gave them refuge and a home in High Wycombe.

The first years were very difficult. The Sisters had to learn a new language in order to attain qualifications to teach in English schools. To earn a living, they gave private lessons in French, embroidery, music and art.

The Sisters took in washing from nearby hotels and did anything else that would help them financially. They gave catechism classes in the parishes and visited the poor, sick and the elderly.

It took years for them to feel at home in a new culture with its language traditions and customs. Being Catholic Apostolic Religious Sisters they at first suffered from anti-Catholic prejudice and misunderstanding until eventually the Sisters had their own schools where they took in both Catholic and Protestant pupils. This helped greatly in breaking down barriers and, indeed it was thanks to some Protestant well-off friends who aided them in the building of new schools, and in other areas of their mission.

Within twelve years of coming to England the Sisters had established several other houses across England and Wales.

Before the 1950s we were predominantly a teaching Order but that changed when several Sisters trained as nurses.

A Maternity Nursing Home was opened in Ireland. The Congregation sent nurses and teachers to Africa in response to a call to Religious Congregation from St. Pope Paul VI to sending of their members to share the "Good News". The Sisters under took other ministries such as social work, retreat work, parish ministries and even work in a fish factory. They went wherever the Spirit led them.

The Congregation continues to blossom in Africa but, sadly not in Europe.

Europe, the motherland of our Congregation still needs us. The ‘harvest is rich but the labourers are few.’ Might God be calling you to help us?


St. Joseph's Convent, Olney

1902 - present

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