is the SSC?
stands for Societas Sanctae Crucis - the Society of the Holy Cross.
The Society was founded in London in 1855 by a small group of Anglo-Catholic
priests led by Father Charles Lowder. At a time when the Catholic Revival
in the Church of England was threatened by persecution and misunderstanding,
these priests came together for support, mutual prayer and encouragement.
Fr Lowder spelled out the objects of SSC: ‘To defend and strengthen
the spiritual life of the clergy, to defend the faith of the Church, and
to carry on and aid Mission work both at home and abroad. The members
of this society, meeting together as they did in prayer and conference,
were deeply impressed with the evils existing in the Church, and saw also,
in the remedies adopted by St Vincent de Paul, the hope of lessening them.’
The Society has now spread throughout the world and is organised in autonomous
Provinces under Provincial Masters elected by their Brethren. Within
each Province are various Regions headed by Regional Vicars, and the work
of the Society at local level is carried forward in Chapters led by their
Local Vicars. Priests of the Society live under a common Rule and
meet together in their local SSC Chapters every month or two for prayer,
Mass and some kind of study or conversation. Presiding over the
Society worldwide is a Master-General who has a special responsibility
to ensure an on-going fidelity among the Brethren to the spirit of the
Society. The Americas Province is the province in the Western Hemisphere,
with the majority of its members living in the USA and Canada.
SSC is not a devotional guild, but takes its stance upon a shared vision
of ‘a disciplined priestly life fashioned after a definite spiritual
rule.’ It is this Rule of Life which unites the Brethren in
their various priestly ministries and lives. They are required to ‘consider
their obligation to the Society as a close spiritual bond...which takes
precedence to that of any other voluntary society.’ This obligation
includes a commitment to attend local SSC Chapter meetings and annual
Regional and Provincial Synods. The life of the Society is experienced
primarily through the local Chapter, and attendance at Chapter is of obligation
unless prevented by genuine pastoral duties.
The fortunes of the Society have waxed and waned since the early days
of the Catholic Revival, but for its members it has always been an important
source of priestly formation, discipline and fraternity. Many of the best-known
and best-loved priests of our Anglo-Catholic tradition have been brethren
of SSC. Priests of the Society can be recognized by the small gold
lapel cross that they generally wear. On it is inscribed the motto of
the Society - in hoc signo vinces
- in this sign, conquer!
of the Province of England and Scotland
Fr. Nicolas Spicer SSC,
of the Province of Wales
Tudor Hughes SSC,
of the Province of the Americas
Fr. Michael Godderz SSC
of the Province of Australasia
Fr. Christopher Bird
Fr. Christopher Cantrell SSC
A note on membership: The following was the decision of the Master General's Council in 2009
"Whilst acknowledging that there is impairment of communion within our Churches, we nevertheless affirm that being in communion (which involves more than private judgement or personal preference) is fundamental for the Church to be the Church, and that a defining characteristic of Anglicanism is recognition as being in communion with the See of Canterbury.
We therefore find ourselves obliged to resolve that:
- There will be no further admissions to the Society of priests or bishops of Churches which are not recognised as being in communion with the See of Canterbury.
- Members of the Continuum presently within the Society of the Holy Cross are encouraged to consider their position in the Society and whether this is compatible with their Church’s stance toward the Anglican Communion.
- Members of the Continuum within the Society of the Holy Cross shall not hold any office in the Society."
The life of the Society is lived out through participation in local chapters. Membership in the Society is by invitation, and that happens through the local chapter. If you are interested in becoming a member of the Society, it is necessary for you to make that known to a current member in your area.