On August 11th 2012, we commemorated a milestone in our journey as a Poor Clare Community. We celebrated 100 years of our foundation as Poor Clare Sisters in the Diocese of Victoria. We are filled with gratitude and thanksgiving for the goodness of God which has been exemplified in those who have accompanied us on this journey of faith, trust and outpoured love.
One hundred years on this Island – one hundred years of being steeped in God’s Beauty and Presence is an inexpressible privilege. We, in turn, share the charism of St. Clare lived in prayerfulness, simplicity and gratitude. You are never far from our hearts as we hold you before the Heart of our living God. It is this ONENESS in Christ that enkindles compassion for others and life is born anew.
Our own 100th anniversary of foundation is but a beam of light reflected from the original foundation of Poor Clares which was started in Assisi in 1212 by St. Clare herself. So in reality, we are celebrating two foundation anniversaries. 2012 was also the closing date of the 800th year of celebration for Poor Clares throughout the world. Truly, it was a year of praise and gratitude for the gift of God’s love experienced through Clare’s response to God and for our own vocation.
Now let us take a step into the past so that we may bring perspective to the present. As we reflect on the events that span these 100 years we recognize the poverty, so dear to the heart of Clare, present in each new beginning. This was true for the Bentivoglio sisters who, in 1834, left their monastery in Rome to establish the Poor Clare presence in North America. Their perseverance and undaunting faith in God’s plan enabled them to endure many hardships and rejections as the foundation in New Orleans became a reality. Building on their courage, our own journey began in 1912 when three faith-filled sisters left New Orleans to bring a contemplative presence to the West Coast of Canada. The early years in Victoria saw rapid growth in the community followed by a major exodus that took place as the foundresses and their newer members returned to the United States, leaving only three sisters to continue the Poor Clare life on Haultain Street. The littleness of beginnings reflect the hidden power of God at work in those who openly trust. This is a stream that flows throughout the history of any Poor Clare foundation. The fruit that results is watered by pain-filled tears of letting go and trusting God.
As Poor Clares we respond joyfully and faithfully to our call as contemplatives who probe deeply the mystery of God’s love – allowing this mystery to permeate the unfolding of each day. We live in the light of our heritage while recognizing the shadows of our time. The plights of poverty, injustice and violence present in our world can only be extinguished by an openness to transformation of the human heart. Prayer is the catalyst to make this happen. We are among the many whose lives are dedicated to being an intercessory force through prayer, silence and contemplation.
Reflecting back, we are most conscious of all the women who have embraced their vocation in this Monastery over the past one hundred years. We remember and are grateful for their vision and fidelity to our charism. They are the ones who have taught us by their lives that our contemplative vocation is not for us alone, but for the Church, the world and for all of you who have encouraged and supported us and believed in the power of prayer and witness of faith.
Sister Doreen and all the Sisters