CHESTERFIELD, N.J. — Friars from Holy Name Province and other Franciscan communities joined the Poor Clares of Bordentown/Chesterfield earlier this month for a celebration of the community’s 100th anniversary. A picnic was held Sept. 1 on the grounds of the Monastery of Saint Clare here.
The gathering of nearly 50 included Conventual friars and members of Brooklyn Franciscan Brothers. Poor Clares from Wappinger Falls, N.Y, and Langhorne, Pa., and Capuchin Poor Clares from Wilmington, Del., also enjoyed the festivities.
The celebration began with Mass, followed by a grilled meal that was “enough for nearby Fort Dix Army base,” joked Sister Florence Vales, OSC.
Slides of the early days of the community were shown to guests. Also provided was a display of the abbesses since 1909, and early pictures of the sisters up to the present.
The Poor Clare sisters have strong ties to the friars of Holy Name Province, said Sister Miriam Varley, OSC, abbess of the Chesterfield monastery. “We know many of them.”
“Many of our vocations, mine included, came through friars,” said Sr. Miriam. “In fact, we have one coming in a few months who is from Holy Name’s parish in Raleigh, N.C. Julian Jagudilla, OFM, found her a couple of days after he began ministry there. She’s a doll.”
The Poor Clare sisters share scripture with HNP novices in Wilmington, Del., during Advent and Lent, when schedules permit, said Sr. Florence.
“Several friars visit us regularly for Eucharist and dinner — mainly the ones on Long Beach Island,” she said. “They are true brothers. Many of us seek spiritual direction from the friars.”
The monastery is a vibrant and hope-filled community of 15 women from various backgrounds and experiences, according to its Web site. The members believe, according to the Web site, that their “calling to be intercessors for the World through prayer is as relevant today as it was when St. Clare started her contemplative community. Our greatest desire is to pass on the tradition of Saint Clare’s Gospel Way of life.”
The community is part of an international order dating from 1212. Each monastery is autonomous. The Poor Clares have federations that are formed geographically. “For instance, our federation is mostly East Coast plus Montana. We have overseas monasteries in Bolivia and Japan. The purpose is mainly fraternal support and collaboration,” Miriam said.
Photos of the celebration, as well as other events, are posted on the Poor Clares blog, “Monastery Happenings.” Spiritual resources, including reflections by Thomas Gallagher, OFM, pastor of St. Patrick-St. Anthony Church in Hartford, appear on the site.
— Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province.