A community of Mary Ward sisters has lived and work in what is now known as the Bar Convent for over four hundred years, since Frances Bedingfield (alias 'Mrs Long') moved in with her small group of companions on 5th November 1605.

Currently nine English members are active in various ways in the Bar Convent itself, available to welcome the many guests who come to stay overnight, to visit the house and the Heritage Exhibition, or to work in the archives or the library, and the groups who come to pray and perhaps celebrate Mass in the chapel, or to attend meetings in one of the conference rooms.

One member of the community is in charge of St Bede's Pastoral Centre at No. 21 Blossom Street, where a variety of courses and day events are held. Others are involved in hospital chaplaincy, work with the handicapped, visiting the sick and elderly, ecumenical and interfaith work, retreat-giving, spiritual direction, leading prayer and meditation-groups, giving talks, writing and translating, working with the sisters from other provinces who come to study the history and spirituality of Mary Ward's Institute.

Each year individual sisters come to stay for longer periods, and many more for shorter visits to see the places in Yorkshire associated with our history. Groups come from our schools all over the world.

For each member of the community, all this activity is sustained by times of personal prayer, especially at the beginning and end of the day, and by praying together for the needs of the world, There is another group of less active sisters in the community known as St. Joseph's, at 27 Blossom Street, whose main mission is prayer.

Each day, Monday to Saturday (or Sunday, for those able to attend the local parish churches) the whole CJ Community meets together for Mass or a Liturgy of the Word. Anyone is welcome to share these services, as many do, regularly or occasionally. This is one of the many ways in which the Bar Convent becomes a place of welcome and friendship for all those who come to it, for whatever reason. and of the individuals and families with whom we are in contact.

Our thanks to Sr Patricia Harriss CJ for her invaluable contribution to this page.

Click to enlarge images and view gallery
Click below to visit the Living Heritage Project website