This morning, I had the great privilege of meeting these five remarkable women, part of the congregation of the Poor Clares of St. Cloud, near Minneapolis. There are 16 of them — including a 22-year-old novice who is discerning a vocation — and they spend their lives behind a grill, or behind a wall, closed off from most of the world, praying for those outside.
They live in a simple brick monastery atop a hill that this morning was carpeted with a couple inches of snow. It is an exceptional location — and an exceptional vocation, and you would think it might be lonely or tedious. But no. These gals are vibrant, funny, spirited and full of faith. (They spend their lives in prayer, after all!) Most of them told us they had careers before they entered the cloister — one nun even has a daughter who is a Franciscan sister, a story I’d love to hear in more detail — and they don’t miss the world they left.
They don’t watch television. They don’t listen to the radio. They don’t have the Internet. They do get CDs from EWTN and other sources, and they are all voracious readers. But most of their communication with the world is through the mail or, sometimes, by fax.
They were delighted to meet me and my colleague, Chris Kennedy from CNEWA. The sisters have been generous donors of our association for many years — thanks to their benefactors — and we wanted to stop by and say “thank you.” They, in turn, wanted to thank us, for all we do. They could not have been more charming or welcoming.
One of the sisters asked if we would like some rosaries, and we said, “Sure.” We thought we’d get two or three. They brought out an enormous bag of them, hundreds of them — how we’ll get that back to New York is still unclear — and one of the sisters spoke of how much she likes the hand-made rope rosaries. I asked her if I could have one to bring home to my wife. She happily obliged — but a quick search found that they were all out of them. “Here,” she said, “take mine.” She slipped it under the grill. I protested. “No, no, no,” she smiled. “Now we have a special connection!” I thanked her and pressed the rosary to my lips, deeply humbled.
If you can, spare a prayer for these wonderful women whose work is nothing less than seeking the salvation of the world. We need their prayers, now more than ever. Know that they are praying for all of us. I’m sure they’d be grateful to have you praying for them.
Learn more about them here.