Society of St. John the Evangelist

The Society of St John the Evangelist (SSJE) is an Anglican religious order for men. The members live under a rule of life and, at profession, make monastic vows of poverty, celibacy and obedience. The SSJE was founded in 1866 at Cowley, Oxford, England, by the Father Richard Meux Benson, a priest in the Church of England. Known colloquially as the Cowley Fathers, the society was the first stable religious community of men to be established in the Anglican Communion since the English Reformation.[1]

For many years the society had houses in Scotland, India, South Africa, Japan and Canada.


North American congregation

In 1870, the society came to Boston, Massachusetts, where it became part of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America. The members of the North American congregation live at a monastery designed by Ralph Adams Cram, in Cambridge, near Harvard Square. They also keep a rural retreat center, Emery House, in West Newbury, where guests can stay in small hermitages in the meadow.

The community has just completed a capital campaign, Stone & Light, to restore the Monastery buildings and make them fully handicapped-accessible. The Monastery Chapel and Guesthouse are recently re- opened. Emery House is open for retreats. And the Brothers will be offering a number of Saturday workshops in Cambridge over the course of the year. The Brothers also lead retreats in parishes and dioceses throughout North America, as well as offer teaching in seminaries and universities. They make sermons and other texts and audio offerings available online through their website:

The community’s chief ministries are preaching, spiritual direction, and hospitality. Their most recent preaching series is called Longing for Christ. For several years, they have been affiliated with St. George's College, Jerusalem, serving as chaplains on a number of pilgrimages to the Holy Land each year. Recently, they also have conducted mission trips to Africa. Individual Brothers work in a variety of local and regional ministries—with students, prisoners, soldiers, the homeless, and persons affected by HIV and AIDS. One of the Brothers, Thomas Shaw, SSJE, is the Bishop of Massachusetts. The newly elected Superior, Geoffrey Tristram, SSJE, studied Theology at Pembroke College, where he received his B.A. and M.A., attended seminary at Westcott House, Cambridge, and was ordained in Salisbury Cathedral in 1979. In 1999 he came to the United States to test his vocation with the Society of Saint John the Evangelist, where he was life-professed in 2004. During his time in the Society he has traveled widely in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, the Holy Land, and in Africa, leading retreats and workshops, preaching, teaching, and offering spiritual direction. For the past three years he has served as Chaplain to the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church.

Monastic Wisdom for Everyday Living

Monastic Wisdom for Everyday Living is an archive of sermons, workshops, and teachings that seek to distill the collective wisdom of the past and offer practical counsel for living in today’s world. Throughout the church year, the Brothers offer seasonal preaching series, which are collected in this series. The current series, "A Living Tradition," is an Lenten series that reflects on the rewards and challenges of keeping a Rule of Life, as well as the Brothers' experiences of editing and revising their own Rule. The series offers a daily post and can be found at

Fellowship of St John

The Fellowship of St. John is a group of men and women who wish to live in a closer relation with the Brothers of the Society of St John the Evangelist. They write and follow a rule of life similar to The Rule [1] under which the Brothers live. Members of the Fellowship support the Society through their friendship and prayers, even as they look to SSJE for support and inspiration. There are about 1,000 men and women in the Fellowship.

British congregation

Today the society in England is based at St Edward's House, a centre for private retreats and hospitality in Westminster, London. The English congregation still tries to remain true to its founder's vision of a society of mission priests and lay brothers, always available to preach and teach in the church wherever it may be asked. But the society takes "mission" in the widest sense of that word so their work now covers such diverse matters as teaching English to immigrants, conducting retreats, individual counselling and spiritual guidance, teaching liturgies, preaching wherever it may be asked and so on. Whatever talent an individual monk might have is used in whatever way the community and the individual see as best giving that talent back to God's world. The society believes that through their daily prayer life and acts of worship together, they are able to witness to the power of Jesus Christ in the world today.

See also

  • Charles Chapman Grafton, Bishop of Fond du Lac
  • Spence Burton, Lord Bishop of Nassau and The Bahamas (1942-1961)
  • Kenneth Abbott Viall, Bishop of Tokyo


  1. ^ "About Us". Society of St. John the Evangelist (UK). Retrieved 2006-07-26. 

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