Isles of Fetlar and Unst, Shetland




  The Society of Our Lady of the Isles is a religious community of the Scottish Episcopal Church and is currently based on both the Island of Fetlar and the Island of Unst, in the north of the Shetland Isles.  Prayer is at the heart of the community's existence and its rule is partly Celtic and partly Carthusian, enabling a life of solitude within a community.


   However, the increasing frailty of one of the Sisters has set in motion a relocation of the Community to the Island of Unst, the most northerly of the Shetland Isles, where there is more assistance available than is possible on Fetlar. A Sister moved into sheltered care at Haroldswick on Unst in May 2014 and  Mother Mary Agnes has moved to a house elsewhere on the island.. Two of the Companion-Oblates now also live on Unst while one currently remains on Fetlar. A new mother-house and chapel will be built on the west coast of Unst, probably during 2016, and meanwhile the Community is grateful to the Minister and members of Haroldswick Methodist Church for their kindness in allowing the Community's Mass to be celebrated there.


   At present the community consists of two sisters in life vows, three Companion Oblates - women who live in their own homes on Unst or Fetlar, External Oblates, who live at locations across Britain and who keep a Rule of Life inspired by the Community, and many members of the Caim, both men and women, across the world who wish to be associated with the Society. 


The origins of the Society go back to 1984 when The Reverend Mother Mary Agnes came to Fetlar to live a life of prayer. In time she was joined by others and the Society was founded in 1988.  Mother Mary Agnes was installed as Mother Guardian in 1993 and ordained a priest of the Diocese of Aberdeen and Orkney in 1998.  She is the author of four books which tell the story of the community's life.
 The Community's first Chapel - the Byre Chapel, in the steading of The Ness Crofthouse on Fetlar - continued in use until December 2014 when a final Mass was said in it by the Warden, who then formally declared that the building had now ceased to be a Chapel of the Community of Our Lady of the Isles.  The newer Chapel of Christ the Encompasser continued in use until the summer of 2015 when Mother Mary Agnes moved from Fetlar to Unst.
The Warden is the Very Reverend Gerald Stranraer-Mull, Dean Emeritus of the Diocese of Aberdeen and Orkney. Father Gerald lives in Ross-shire but makes regular visits to the Community.  All enquiries should currently be directed to him and he can be contacted by phone at 01463 870986.