Bethany is the motherhouse of the Sisters of St. Martha of Antigonish. The original motherhouse was established at St. Francis Xavier College in Antigonish where the Sisters of St. Martha were formally established as a religious congregation on July 29, 1900. During its first twenty years, the congregation lived on the college campus and was subject in temporal matters to the authorities of St. Francis Xavier College and the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Antigonish Diocese. This building now houses St. Francis Xavier University's geology department.
In 1921, after gaining their autonomy, the sisters built a new motherhouse on the present site located on the outskirts of the town, overlooking Antigonish town and county. The new motherhouse was named "Bethany" after the home of the congregation's patroness, St. Martha. It accommodated the increasing number of sisters and a new novitiate. Its first occupants were seventeen professed sisters and seven novices. The chapel of this building is now part of our retreat centre complex, Bethany Center.
Over the years, vocations to the congregation increased and service to people and communities was expanded. In 1937 an extension was added to the 1921 building. The chapel in this new addition was the centre of community worship until 1965. Happily, continued growth within the congregation necessitated another wing to the motherhouse and in 1965 a beautiful new chapel completed the project.
Bethany as Our Home
Bethany is the home of all Marthas. It also serves as the focal point of the congregation's administration and activities of the congregation. Bethany continues to be the home of a living community of life, prayer and ministry. It is the place where each sister is welcome, where many active, retired and semi-retired sisters continue to give service. It is also the health care centre of the congregation where the needs of our sick and disabled sisters are met.
Services at Bethany
Services at Bethany include programs and retreats for sisters, clergy and laity, which operate from Bethany Center. Other services include podiatry, music education, sewing, crafts, daily community prayer and Liturgy of Eucharist, hospitality to clergy, laity, and to family and relatives of sisters. All sisters, including the sick, share in our ministry of prayer.