The Poor Servant Sisters

 

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Frances Taylor as a Lady Volunteer in the Crimea

Frances Taylor officially founded the religious order the Poor Servants of the Mother of God in 1872. Her spirit and values form the thread which runs through all the work undertaken  by the Congregation.

Frances Margaret Taylor was born on 20th January 1832 in  Stoke Rochford, in Lincolnshire. Her father was an Anglican  clergyman and Frances was the youngest of ten children. Her happy country childhood came to an end in 1842 when her father died and the family had to move to London. The poverty and the squalor of nineteenth century London came as a shock to her and her compassion moved her to work with the poor.

In 1854 she went to the Crimea with Florence Nightingale’s Lady Volunteer Nurses. The plight of the wounded soldiers, the faith of the young Irish men and the dedication of the Irish Sisters of Mercy inspired her to become a Catholic. She was received into the Catholic Church on 14th April 1855.

On her return to London she continued to work with the poor and also began writing. Her desire to work for and with the poor, led her to found her own Congregation in 1869. Frances took the name Mother Magdalen and together with three companions began the work of the Poor Servants of the Mother of God. They responded to the needs of the time working with the most vulnerable, especially women and children, and recognising and valuing the dignity and worth of each person.

Today, the Congregation carries out work begun by Frances Taylor in social, pastoral, health care, education and outreach work in the UK, Ireland, N. America, Kenya and Italy.

During the past century the work has changed and the Sisters have responded to the new situations which have arisen.  It is still carried out in the same spirit and according to the same values espoused by Frances Taylor to

“Serve God always but, not always in the same way”psotmgm_logo

On 13th June 2014, Pope Francis authorised the promulgation of the decree concerning the Heroic virtues of Servant of God Mother Magdalen of the Sacred Heart (nee Frances Margaret Taylor), foundress of the Poor Servants of the Mother of God (1832-1900)

We seek to have Venerable Magdalen of the Sacred Heart canonized for a variety of reasons, though none more important than her role as Prophet. A Prophet communicates God’s message. The message gives a vision to the world that inspires people and encourages them.

Today, we would say that Venerable Magdalen of the Sacred Heart found her Voice – or rather she found God’s own voice crying out in her what he wanted her to do, speaking to the people of God in Victorian times. Here are four marks of her being a Prophet:

She was inspired to write a book, Eastern Hospitals and English Nurses – an expose´ showing the neglect of the soldiers, and the injustice and indignities they suffered. As Prophet, her message was: It is not sufficient to accept things the way they are. People deserve better and they should get it.

She called for the reform of the character of paid nurses, whom she often found to be drunk, immoral and insubordinate. The horror for Venerable Magdalen of the Sacred Heart was that sick and dying patients were left in the care of these so-called nurses. Consequently, she was not willing to accept things the way they were; things should be better and most certainly the sick and the dying deserved better.

In the Apostleship of Prayer program, a person unites with the intentions of the church daily all over the world so as to be as close as possible to the mind of the church in its concerns and prayers for its suffering members. Prayer touched the two great loves of her life – the Sacred Heart and the Poor. As an encourager, she convinced Fr. Dignam, SJ, to change the Messenger of the Sacred Heart from being an expensive literary magazine into a popular penny-worth magazine which quickly circulated freely among the poor. She further encouraged Fr. Cullen, SJ, in Dublin to make the magazine available to people in Ireland. Within a year, the first Irish Messenger of the Sacred Heart appeared, reaching a circulation of 73,000. This Messenger is still published in Ireland today.

The fourth mark of her being Prophet is found in her call to be the Foundress of our Congregation, the Poor Servants of the Mother of God.