This is an incredibly painful and difficult letter to write this year for the Feast of St. Clare.
As previously written, our beloved most senior member Sr. Clare Lewis died on May 15th at the age of 90. The death of our little Jamaican sister has triggered a mandate of change for our community. The changes were clearly outlined in the world-wide document for all contemplative women: “Cor Orans”, issued April 2018 from Rome. This document came into effect just as we were moving from the former monastery to our new smaller space, and we were always aware that it would apply to us when our physical numbers decreased to 5. (If you would like to see the original document to which we are referring it is most easily accessible by typing “Vatican document Cor Orans” into your search engine.)
This difficult time has now arrived, and we must deal with the reality in which we find ourselves.
The stark reality is that this monastery, as it has been in this diocese, must close.
Over the past 3 years, pondering this document, we have considered many different options. We have been engaged in a communal spiritual discernment process to see how the Lord is calling us each to move forward in trust and hope. We know how we are loved and appreciated in this diocese, having been supported here for 109 years. We have also known great care and generosity from so many of you who are farther away. Please know we are aware of your pain as well as our own, at this difficult news.
So, in practical terms, what does this all mean? As we write, it is still unfolding. But it will mean substantive changes in all our lives.
Two sisters are originally from the USA and at this point are looking to return. They are each in conversation with different communities to discern a possible transfer. The other three Canadians have no desire to leave the land of their birth to go to another country. Their options are therefore quite different. They are still in the early stages of exploration and discernment about living out a contemplative life of prayer without the same structure they have previously known. We ask you to keep all of us in your prayer as we are being called into something new, and yet still quite unknown for each of us.
As we struggle to navigate such undreamt of and uncharted waters, there are two quotes that keep coming to mind. The first is from the prophet Jeremiah “For surely I know the plans I have for you…plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope” (Jer. 29:11).
The other one is from St. Clare of Assisi to herself on her deathbed: “Go without anxiety, for you have a good guide for your journey. Go, for He Who created you has made you holy. And, always protecting you as a mother her child, has loved you with a tender love. May you be blessed, O Lord, who has created me.”
We offer these reassuring reminders of God’s great love and companionship all along each of our journeys. If these past several difficult years have taught us nothing else, we are much more aware of the truth that we never really know what the future holds. But we do know Who holds us in that future.
Love incarnate holds us with great compassion, care and tenderness, in the midst of whatever unfolds around and in us. We were created in love, and we exist in love as we return to love.
We thank you for so many years of love and support for our ministry. Your lives and goodness will live on in each of our hearts and prayer, wherever we find ourselves. And, in the end, we are all ever united in the great-loving heart of God. And because of that, we remain, as ever,
Your Poor Clare Sisters of Duncan
This site will be closed when all of this has come to completion.