Process of Initial Discernment for Candidates to our Poor Clare Community.
So, you are looking into religious life? Moreover, you feel drawn to a contemplative form of life. You want to know Christ and enter more deeply into the love of our Triune God. You probably find yourself attracted to Franciscan spirituality, and especially St. Clare’s contemplative Form of Life. All the while you feel a desire to give your life for others, to do the most you possibly can to spread God’s kingdom in the world. You see a life totally given to prayer as the best possible way for you to do this. If any of this rings a bell, God may be calling you to join us. We are a community striving to live the poverty, love and holy unity of the charism of Saint Clare of Assisi.
At this stage of your response to God’s call there are many communities to choose from. If only the Holy Spirit could be more specific. We have a process in place to assist you in your efforts to discern if you are being called to the contemplative life of a Poor Clare. When you first contact us by letter, e-mail or phone, discernment of your vocation has actually begun. You will receive some introductory information on Saint Clare, our Order, and our community, to help you decide whether our spirituality seems how the Holy Spirit is leading you. Age requirements are considered on an individual basis.
If you wish to look further into Poor Clare life you are invited to visit. At first, it might be a brief visit, or a weekend. This will give you the opportunity to share in our liturgy, to meet some of the sisters, and to talk with the Vocation Directress at greater length. If you still feel comfortable with your experience, you may fill out a Candidacy Report, which simply allows us to have certain basic personal information such as religion, citizenship, and health.
There will eventually be a longer live-in experience, preferably a month, allowing you to take part in our daily schedule of prayer, work and recreation. In arranging a date the requirements of each woman’s job or other responsibilities are taken into consideration. This time spent inside the enclosure is meant to test your ability to adjust to this environment before you leaves your job and home. If your experience with us is positive, and you wish to take steps to enter as a candidate, you will be given the Application forms by which you formally become an applicant to our community. These forms require more personal information.
Conferences with the Novice Directress continue all during this process as she observes and questions you to determine whether you will benefit from our tradition of Franciscan spirituality and community life, and if the restrictions inherent in our enclosed lifestyle will truly be helpful to your human development and growth in the spiritual life. Your educational level is considered so that reading material can supplement any areas where this seems beneficial to you. Sufficient understanding of Church teaching is required, and also supplemented as needed, to assure a solid spiritual foundation.
When entrance time – determined mainly by the candidate – approaches, you will be given a list suggesting clothing and other items that will be useful. No dowry is required in Monasteries of the Order of St. Clare, as all receive equally according to their needs and the possibilities of the community. The time of candidacy can be up to two years, after which time a vote of the community will be taken to receive you into the community as a novice, for about two years, followed by First Profession of Poverty, Chastity, Obedience and Enclosure for at least six years. Once Solemn Profession is made, a Poor Clare trusts herself entirely into the hands of Divine Providence for the rest of her life. You finances and possessions must be given away. You will know the joy of owning nothing! After all, a Poor Clare does not need things to be happy.
We need women who truly feel drawn to deeper union with God and are ready and willing to give themselves totally to a life of love and prayer for God’s people. The most important determinant to reception into our order is that you are called by a deep desire of the Spirit; that you believe in God’s love for you and are ready to give yourself unreservedly to that love forever.
Phone: 617-524-1760 (7866)