History

Beautiful iron gates and old wooden chapel doors mark entrances into the gardens, convent, guest house, and garden gatechapel of St. Anne’s-Bethany and the Bethany House of Prayer. Across these thresholds many have come this year and in years past seeking to be attentive to God’s presence in their daily lives.

In 1910, Etheldred Breeze Barry, an illustrator of children’s books, became the mother founder of the Sisters of St. Anne with the encouragement and assistance of friends and the brothers of the Society of St. John the Evangelist.  Her “small house in Arlington” as it was known then is now home to the Bethany House of Prayer.

The presence and ministry of the Sisters of St. Anne has stretched across continents and cultures for over 100 years.  Sisters were invited to England, China, the Virgin Islands, New Zealand and the Philippines.  They set up convents, schools, and missions; undertook relief work; assisted with diocesan ministries; and for many years were enriched by the lives and care of developmentally disabled women at their previous home in Lincoln, Massachusetts. Today, they are a multi-cultural community of five Sisters.  Their witness to Christ in prayer, hospitality, worship and service continues to this day and gives rise to new growth.

In the 1990s, four women colleagues, lay and ordained, began ministering alongside the Sisters by offering retreats and spiritual direction. Today, over twenty women and men colleagues and associates offer occasions for individuals and groups to attend to the Sacred in retreats, refreshment days, programs, worship, and spiritual direction.