as Gaeilge Po polsku




...Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom You light the night,
and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong.

Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Mother Earth,
who sustains and governs us,
and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs.

Praised be You, my Lord, through those who give pardon for Your love,
and bear infirmity and tribulation.
Blessed are those who endure in peace
for by You, Most High, shall they be crowned.

Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death,
from whom no one living can escape.
Woe to those who die in mortal sin.
Blessed are those whom death will find in Your most holy will,
for the second death shall do them no harm.

Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks
and serve Him with great humility.

Canticle of the Creatures by St. Francis

Questions from schools

School groups often write to us to find out more about our Community - their questions (word for word!) and our attempts to answer them are laid out below. We share with those groups who visit and write to us that our way of life is about really trying to live as Jesus teaches us to and this means listening to what He has to say to us in the Bible especially. To try and show them what we mean, we have included a few quotes from the Bible (in italics), which we invite them to think about and discuss with their teachers or at home.


Why are you called the Poor Clares?
We belong to a community founded by one of the most charming, and courageous women who ever lived – St Clare of Assisi, who was a companion and follower of St Francis of Assisi in the 13th century. St Clare grew up in a castle surrounded by wealth and prestige and yet she chose to live in a very simple way, desiring to follow the example of Mary and her Son, Jesus, who were very poor when they lived on earth. We, likewise, do very simple work and rely on the people around us to bring us what we need.
Clare was exuberant and beautiful – a real celebrity - and yet she chose to live in silence and prayer. In the time of St Francis and St Clare and today also society is fixated on spectacular results, appearances, control and a tireless craving for success and the person that counts is the one who is able to produce the most and deliver the goods. In total contrast, St Francis and St Clare teach that success lies in complete trust in God who never ceases to have incredible confidence in us. They responded with total love to the total love God has for each of us and the mission of Franciscans and Poor Clares is the same, to try to live as Jesus teaches in the Bible “love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12).

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Are you allowed to talk at certain times?
Each evening we take time to come together to relax, chat and enjoy each other’s company and St Clare says that we may always say what is necessary. The idea is to keep an atmosphere of silence in the monastery so as not disturb those at prayer and to help us to keep our attention on Jesus who says to us: “Peace I give to you, Peace the world can not give this is my gift to you.” (John 14:27).

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What are the vows?
Consecrated Chastity:
Each sister is seeking the Lord always with an undivided heart.

Most high Poverty:
Freeing our hearts from being tied down by possessions

Obedience:
Lived in imitation of Christ who became obedient to the Father unto death.

Enclosure:
To love totally the One who gave himself totally for our love.

The simple brown habit we wear has a cord around it with four knots symbolizing our four vows. Sandaled feet also bear witness to our Poverty.

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Do you mind not being able to talk?
For St. Clare community life was essential for building up an atmosphere of love and we consider it one of our greatest blessings, so when we don’t talk, it is a restful, friendly silence not a cold, uncomfortable silence that can sometimes exist between people who are angry at each other. So we don’t mind not talking all the time, it can help us be more peaceful and relaxed and we want to listen to what God has to say to us, because He promises to speak to us in the silence of our hearts.

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How old do you have to be to join?
It’s a big decision that needs maturity and is not something we just decide to do ourselves but is a call, or invitation, from God that we respond to freely and with love. People can sometimes feel God’s call, or invitation, to follow Him in religious life while they are at school but most of the time, young women join us in their twenties and thirties.

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Does it get lonely sometimes?
Yes, it does get lonely sometimes but Jesus is with us always and He says to every person “Do not be afraid for I am with you, I have called you by name you are mine” (Isaiah 41). Our Catholic Faith teaches us that we are never really alone - there is a difference between being lonely and being alone with God. To be fully human we must feel all the emotions of loneliness, sadness, fear, anger, selfishness as well as the happy feelings because this is part of life. When I was at school and at different times in my life I did not always feel that I fitted in and these times were lonely, but everyone goes through them. Every single person, even the greatest celebrities have times of self-doubt and loneliness but when we turn to Jesus and His Mother Mary and ask them to show us that they are with us, they do. I believe that each of us has been created uniquely by God and He has a special dream for each of us and it is in discovering what this dream is, that we find true happiness, completeness, freedom and the love we long for, even though the media tells us the complete opposite.

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What do you do in your everyday life?
Our day is centred on the Mass and Eucharistic Adoration, which is at the heart of our vocation. We take turns throughout the day to love and adore Jesus who is present with us in the Chapel in the Blessed Sacrament. Also, the community prays the Divine Office (official prayers of the Catholic Church) together seven times during the day. This prayer is our most important “work”, around which our day revolves. We get up again at midnight for an hour to pray together and spend time in Adoration - one of our Sisters says that the great thing is that we get to go to bed twice in one night!
We all love Our Lady because she is our mother in heaven and she takes care of us as her children. One of the ways of showing our love for her and asking for her help (for ourselves and those we pray for), is praying the Rosary together every day, normally walking around our garden, or if the weather’s too bad, in our Chapel. Each Sister shares in the work and upkeep of the monastery and garden, the focus being not on achieving results or on the importance of the work, but on the love with which it is done – a very different attitude to work than we had before we came here. We each have a part of the garden to look after and we bake the communion wafers that become the Body of Christ at Mass. We also spend fun time together and combine solitude and togetherness in the warmth of the Franciscan family spirit.

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What do you do in your spare time?
We have opportunities to enjoy our hobbies – these are as diverse as the Sisters who are here. Like spending more time gardening, making pottery or glasspainting or any kind of painting or sewing or making cards or reading or exercise or studying (one of our sisters is doing a correspondence course) or singing or listening to music or practising musical instruments. Really any interest or hobby that someone wants to do, that can be done here (unlike bungy-jumping for example!), we do.

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Do you miss your family and friends?
Yes, very much, and in fact I think for each of us this was the hardest thing about joining the monastery. Our families can visit us four times a year (and friends now and then) but the separation from those we love the most is very difficult. We have to trust that God is taking care of them but it is especially hard if there are family events like weddings or if someone close to us is sick or has a baby or anything really that we would like to be part of but can’t be. Which takes us to the next question:

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Are you allowed to go outside for special events?
We only go out if it is necessary, and that would be if we needed to go to the hospital or doctor, or dentist or sometimes to a study course for Poor Clares (this would only happen every few years). But we wouldn’t be able to go to baptisms or weddings or that kind of special event.

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Are you allowed to wear make up?
No, and this wasn’t too easy for me to get used to. No cover-up for pimples or improving on what nature gave us! But I guess that’s the point, to accept and love ourselves as we are without the help of the latest beauty-tips. There is no chance to pretend to be what we are not or to cover-up the parts of ourselves that we don’t like. And ultimately that’s a good thing because we learn to love ourselves as we are and that’s not always easy but it is important because each of us was created by God and He never makes mistakes. Not wearing make up is one way of us saying to God “I thank you for the wonder of my being for the wonders of all your creation.” (Psalm 138/9)

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Do you rear your own animals?
We used to have chickens but last year a mink got in and killed them all, which was very sad and we decided not to replace them. A local farmer brings his cows and calves to graze in our field sometimes, which we really love.

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Do you go on pilgrimages?
No, but we pray a lot for those that do.

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Do you feel closer to God?
A tough question! As we pray, God leads us into a deeper awareness of who He is by showing us who we truly are and what this life is all about. This allows us the freedom to be ourselves and not who others say we should be. I suppose what it is, is a growing awareness of how much God loves me and I am drawn to love Him more deeply when I see in my everyday life how God looks after me and how much He longs to be loved. There are so few people these days who love Jesus that I just want to love Him as much as I can, with my whole heart. I want to give everything that I am and have to Him. Some days I don’t “feel” any closeness to Him at all and I wonder where He is hiding but I know and believe that He is always with me, loving me and taking care of me no matter whether I feel it or not. There isn’t a person in the world who doesn’t want to be loved. We all long to be loved, to be cherished by someone special, to be the most important person in their lives. Being a nun doesn’t necessarily bring you closer to God than being married does, it all depends on our response to God’s call in our life. Every person is called to be close to God, to love Him and to experience His love, whatever their path in life is and Jesus says something very special to every person: “You are precious in my eyes and I love you” (Isaiah 43).

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Do you have medical supplies inside the convent or do you have to go to the hospital?
Some of our Sisters are nurses and we have some medical supplies in the Monastery but we would need to go to hospital for treatment or tests and that kind of thing.

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