the Society of Our Lady of the Isles

Isle of Unst, Shetland

SUNDAY MASS at 10.30am

the Chapel of jesus the good shepherd


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

The Community was founded on the neighbouring Isle of Fetlar. However, Unst offers more medical and social care than is possible on Fetlar, and one Sister now lives in sheltered care at Uyeasound on Unst .

This photograph shows the former Chapel of Christ the Encompasser on the Isle of Fetlar.

The Chapel and other community buildings on Fetlar have now been sold. A new chapel, the Chapel of Jesus the Good Shepherd, and a new community house have been built at Westing on the Atlantic coast of Unst.

In addition to the resident Community there are External Oblates, who live in their own homes across Britain and who keep a Rule of Life inspired by the Community, and also 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 solitary 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, a croft house 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 and a service of de-consecration was conducted by the then Bishop of Aberdeen and Orkney, Dr Robert Gillies. Bishop Bob will consecrate the new Chapel at Westing in February 2019.

Until February the Warden of the Community continues to be the Very Reverend Gerald Stranraer-Mull, Dean Emeritus of the Diocese of Aberdeen and Orkney.

Father Gerald lives at Culloden, near Inverness, but is in regular touch with the Community and visits as often as is possible. All enquiries should currently be directed to him and he can be contacted by phone at 01463 793943 or by email at

From February 2019, the Warden will be the Reverend Graham Taylor, Rector of Saint John's, Perth.

For more about the life of the Society of Our Lady of the Isles community, visit the 20th century page of the Scottish Episcopal Church History website.

Scroll down to "Another Moment in the Century: Nuns Come to Shetland" to read the story.

The community's former home on the Isle of Fetlar