By 1849 the community was established at the ‘Priory’ in Banbury, which has always been known as the Cradle of the community. By 1853 there were thirty four sisters, including novices and postulants and there were nine branch houses housing two to three Sisters, as bishop Ullathorne writing 1857 we were “the only institute we have in England in which so small a number as two Sisters are placed together, which therefore, can act in the poorer missions which could not sustain a convent.”
On 5th March 1864, Mother Genevieve received the Brief Laudatif from Rome. This was a decree indicating initial approval of the Congregation from the Holy See. She had to wait until 1st February 1898 for the Decree of Final Approbation. While she was in Rome, involved in lengthy and protracted communications with the Vatican, the final negotiations were taking place for the purchase of Selly Hall in Birmingham to be the Mother house of the Congregation.
The story of our coming to Selly Park began soon after our beginnings in Banbury in 1847. In 1849 Bishop Ullathorne wrote about the possibility of having the Sisters in Birmingham. He remarked, “I should like very much to have your Head house in Birmingham.” The deeds of sale, dated 20th June 1864, were signed by five Sisters and Robert Dolphin, a Birmingham, solicitor, who must have bought the house in 1846 when it was vacated by the Rodway/Benbow family.
Mother Mary Paul Strawson gives the only information about the move to Selly Park “The Community and Novitiate were removed on September 24th 1864 to Selly Oak Hall. On the feast of St. Michael, September 29th 1864, the first Mass was said in a little Chapel by Rev Dr. Tandy, and Bishop Ullathorne preached a most beautiful sermon.”