Emily Malbone Morgan, with the support of Harriet Hastings, was the founder of the Society of the Companions of the Holy Cross (SCHC), in 1884. Begun as an order of Episcopal laywomen rooted in disciplined devotion, SCHC became a strong force for social justice reform during the social gospel era around the turn of the twentieth century.
Morgan was born on December 10, 1862, in Hartford, Connecticut. Her family were prominent Hartford citizens and her Anglican roots ran deep on both sides of her family. She never married.
A primary inspiration for Morgan was her friendship with Adelyn Howard. Howard was homebound and because of her confinement sought Morgan’s support for both spiritual companionship and as a means by which she could offer intercessory prayer for others. Meeting her friend’s need, Morgan called together a small group of women for prayer and companionship. From that beginning, the Society of the Companions of the Holy Cross came into being.
Morgan had a particular concern for working women who were tired and restless and who had little hope for a vacation. In response, Morgan, with the help of a growing number of her Companions, developed summer vacation houses across the northeast where working women and their daughters could have some time away for physical and spiritual renewal and refreshment.
In 1901, the Society established a permanent home in Byfield, Massachusetts. With the construction of new facilities on the site in 1915, it took the name Adelynrood, which continues to exist as the headquarters and retreat center of the Society. At present, SCHC has thirty-one chapters with more than seven hundred Companions, lay and ordained women, serving in six countries.
Emily Malbone Morgan, together with her sisters in the Society of the Companions of the Holy Cross, lived a life of prayer and contemplation, rooted in the tradition, which led to powerful personal and communal commitments to social justice particularly for women.
Gracious God, you raised up Emily Malbone Morgan to establish the Society of the Companions of the Holy Cross and to provide respite for women working in factories: Draw us to follow her example of thanksgiving, intercession and simplicity of life in service of social justice, unity, and mission; through Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now for ever. Amen.
(Holy Women,Holy Men)