A tradition of compassionate care

Published on 7th of November, 2023

In 1895, a community of Anglican deaconesses was established in Christchurch to undertake parish work, to teach, and to care for the poor and the sick. In 1912, having grown in number, the community moved to a site in Barbardoes Street and became a religious order, the Community of the Sacred Name. From there, the Sisters continued their religious and social work for many years.

In these post-quake days, the old convent no longer stands. But a Retreat House, which was built more recently, is still in place. The Sisters are now few in number and this year they decided to sell the site. The Mission saw an opportunity to create a social housing community there for kaewa (clients) of Housing First Ōtautahi who are experiencing homelessness. 

“Current plans are for twenty homes to be built there, along with a building that can provide a communal space for gatherings, training workshops and other activities. This is an ideal site for kaewa. It’s close to town, enabling ready access to services and public transport,” says CMM Executive Director Jill Hawkey. “It’s also close to the Housing First offices in Ferry Road.” 

The Retreat House on the site will stay in place and will become offices for our Housing and Wellbeing teams. These teams are currently at CMM’s Matson’s Avenue site next to our Central Administration offices and Wesley Village. Moving the teams into town will release space to build more social housing, this time to extend Wesley Village which houses older people in affordable rental homes.

In September, CMM staff, including those who will work from the Retreat House, gathered with the Sisters for a liturgy of thanksgiving and to reflect on the history of the site. “We are excited to be continuing the kaupapa of the Sisters in the years to come,” says Jill.