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Joan Bartlett: Wikis


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Joan Bartlett OBE (1 August 1911, London – 9 September 2002) was a prominent British Roman Catholic convert. She was the foundress of the Servite Secular Institute (SSI).

During WWII Bartlett worked in the European Broadcasting division of the BBC, and at night was a Commandant of the Red Cross. She converted to Roman Catholicism in 1941, becoming a Servite (Servant of Mary) Tertiary. She opened a residential home for the elderly homeless, having been inspired by hearing Violet Markham speak at Caxton Hall about the plight of many elderly people who had been bombed out during The Blitz.

The Servite Order lent Bartlett £8000. With this money and other contributions from the Air Raid Distress Fund, American Services Fund, and individual donors, most notably, Albert Oppenheimer (CBE) she purchased a property in The Boltons. It was registered as the Hearth and Home Housing Association, now known as Servite Housing.

Bartlett remained involved in Servite Housing until her death, having devoted the years since her retirement as Director to fund-raising. The SSI continued to grow, being erected as a Secular Institute through the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Westminster; it spread to other countries and received Pontifical Recognition in March 1979, at which point she earned a Dame[hood] in the Order of St. Gregory the Great (she was not a Dame of Malta). The Constitutions received final approval in February 1994.


Dame Joan wrote a book, Brushing Eternity, including the following excerpt (about death):

Intensity, deepening in intensity.
In the cool grey walls, silence.
In the human heart
Silence and adoration.
Behold I have lost my being,
I have brushed eternity.




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