GREAT FALLS, Montana — Through good times and bad they have prayed for all of us; a cloistered order of nuns, devout in their vows of poverty and seclusion.
The Poor Clares are not often seen in public. Perhaps out for a walk or while attending a Mass at one of the community’s churches. For the vast majority of their time the six sisters remain in anonymity, quietly praying that the blessings of God be granted to all of us, even during the most common of times.
But these are not common times.
“We wanted to bless the city, especially the healthcare workers,” said Sister Judith Crosby .“We pray for them a lot, and when Mercy Flight takes off and lands we also pray for them.”
“We see the city and we are very aware of its needs, and continually pray for them,” added Sister Jane Sorenson. “It’s been strongly on our minds for as long as we’ve been here. But at this point in time with the pandemic, we just believe it would be good for us to visible let people know that they are in our prayers.”
Born to a noble family in Italy in 1193, She is said to have often saved food from the table of her family to distribute to the poor. Though raised among the elite, she cared little for the social life which surrounded her.
At the age of 18, Clare is said to have rejected her parent’s plans for her marriage, and fled to the Italian town of Portiuncula where St. Francis of Assisi accepted her, cut her long hair and dressed her in a rough, simple cloak. She adopted a life of poverty, and established the order of Poor Clare at the San Damiano monastery near Assisi, Italy around 1212 A.D.
“St. Clare was a healer,” said Sister Jane of her foundress. “She healed with a simple gesture, with a sign of the cross on the forehead. Her blessing is very healing.”
Sister Jane also spoke of the challenges facing families confined by social distancing.
“I have a soft place in my heart for the parents who are at home with their kids for this extensive time,” she said. “People are not used to being closed in … and its been an adjustment for people to do that; whether its been parents with children or just being together with all that time on their hands, The peace that people need is not always there.”
“In order to live in closure as we do … you have to live in the now,” added Sister Judith Crosby. “You have have to be centered in what is going on right now – not planning ahead to what I would be doing if I was at work or if I was at school. Just be where you are and experience what is going on now.”
The Poor Clares invite the faithful to contact them for spiritual guidance at 406.453.7891. The monastery typically invites people onto their campus for quiet reflection and prayer, but are unable to do so at this time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.