“There is a good zeal which separates from vices and leads to God and to life everlasting.”
We Gilbertine’s have our roots in the Sempringham Order founded in 1131 — the only medieval Religious Order of English origin (commonly known as the Gilbertines), but our contemporary expression started to take shape in the mid 1990s in South Dakota. Blue Cloud Abbey, a Swiss-American Benedictine Congregation located near the town of Marvin, had a lively Oblate programme which included many Anglicans, some of whom in 1996, felt called to form their own Benedictine association. This association, which still exists today, came to Canada a decade later where both Fr. Robert-Charles Bengry and Fr. Sean-Patrick Beahen joined in Vancouver. Fr. Robert-Charles was ultimately elected the First Prior General of the small association of Anglican Benedictine Canons in North America.
The Fathers were asked to relocate to Manitoba by their Prior and were directed to establish a Religious House in the Anglican Diocese of Brandon. Soon after, this new community began a long process of discernment regarding the Apostolic Constitution, Anglicanorum coetibus. This historic document, promulgated by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009, provides a path for groups of Anglicans to become fully Roman Catholic, while retaining elements of their worship traditions and spiritual heritage. The culmination of the discernment resulted in the unfortunate fracture and dissolution of the community with a small number responding favourably to the Pontiff’s invitation to full communion.
The Fathers, one Sister, and two Companions came home to Catholicism and were invited by Bishop Steven Lopes in 2017 to prayerfully consider re-establishing a Gilbertine presence within the Catholic Church, the first fruits of which is the establishment of the Canons Regular of St. Gilbert of Sempringham (GSmp) soon to be erected a Public Association of the Faithful. The original members have since been joined by another Companion and pray for more vocations.
The first Gilbertines moved from Brandon, Manitoba to serve in Calgary, Alberta last year on 1st July.