Isle of Fetlar, 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.



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.
 At present the community consists of two sisters in life vows, two Companion Oblates - women who live in their own homes on the island of Fetlar, five 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 increasing frailty of one of the Sisters has recently set in motion a partial 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. Sister Mary Aidan moved into sheltered care at Haroldswick on Unst in May 2014 and  the Trustees of the Community have agreed that Mother Mary Agnes should also eventually move to a house elsewhere on Unst. The Companion Oblates will remain on Fetlar and Mass in the Chapel of Christ the Encompasser and All His Holy Angels, and the prayer offices, will be maintained there - as far as possible - as normal.
 The Community's first Chapel - the Byre Chapel, in the steading of The Ness Crofthouse - continued in occasional use until December 2014 when a final Mass was said in it by the Warden, who then formally declared that the building, which had not been consecrated, had now ceased to be a Chapel of the Community of Our Lady of the Isles. 
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. He can be contacted by phone at 01463 870986.
The life of the community - on Fetlar and Unst -  centres on the Mass, and the Community also meets in Chapel for some of the Prayer Offices, others being said privately.
In recent years it has not been possible to accommodate resident visitors within the community.  Visitors are, though, very welcome to come to the Chapel at Aithness on Fetlar for private prayer (and to make themselves tea or coffee in a room close-by). Those visiting are asked to respect the quiet, solitary and prayerful life of the Community.

 A special welcome
is extended to anyone able to come to the Sunday Mass in the Chapel at Aithness, which is followed by coffee, cake and chat - bringing  together visitors, islanders who have made the Chapel their spiritual home, and members of the SOLI community.