Foundation in England
With the support of Miss Pauline Willis, and members of the London Committee, Anna had established Medical Mission Sisters in the United States. In England, too, there was interest in medical missions and Anna was urged to open a house that would receive young women from the UK and Europe. Miss Willis offered her own summer cottage, St Helen's, in the Cotswold village of Winchcombe, Gloucestershire, as a temporary 'home base'. This offer was accepted, and Medical Mission Sisters came into being in England on 3rd October 1931
Miss Willis and Anna Dengel - St Helen's Cottage 1952
Sister Monica Neuhaus, from Germany, was one of the first to enter Medical Mission Sisters in England, and the only one of a succession of young women who "stuck it out" from the early days.
The loan of Miss Willis' cottage in Winchcombe, and later her home in London, were only temporary arrangements. Anna returned to England in 1932 to search for a house in London. By another lucky coincidence, Miss Willis happened to take Anna to a garden party in Osterley, Middlesex. In conversation, Anna learned that there was a suitable house for sale nearby. This happened on a Saturday; the owner was contacted, two American friends paid for the property and by Monday the deal was done! On 24th August 1932 the community in England moved into their own house in Osterley, Middlesex.
98 Thornbury Road, Osterley, Middlesex
The London Committee remained faithful. Not only did they support the sisters in Osterley, but continued to raise funds for St Catherine's in Rawalpindi, and later, other projects in India and Africa. The Committee remained active until the 1960's.
Young women from The Netherlands and Germany spent their time of postulancy (the first stage of training for religious life) in Osterley, before moving on to the noviciate in America.
Times were very hard and it was often a struggle, but England continued to receive young women from Europe until noviciates were opened in The Netherlands in 1939 and Germany in 1962. Monica Neuhaus was among the group of sisters who kept Osterley going during its first ten years.
An increase in the number of candidates from the UK itself wanting to enter the Society led to the opening of a novitiate in South Shields, Tyne and Wear, in 1952. The sisters remaining in Osterley continued their work with publicity, fundraising and providing hospitality to sisters visiting from overseas and those coming for studies. The house in Osterley was closed in 1976 when the sisters moved to the London Borough of Ealing.