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with All Peace and All Good.
A Peek behind the Closed Doors of the Cloister
Many people often wonder why anyone would ever want to spend their entire lives inside a monastery. Enclosed by four walls and a bit of garden. What’s the attraction?
For sure, most people acknowledge it has something to do with God but why not serve God in the midst of people, why not spend one’s life with the poor or the lame or the blind? Why not go out into the whole world and tell, “The Good News!” what’s with creeping off behind cloister walls and entering seeming oblivion?
Basically the monastic life is a call to living a deep and intense relationship with God. A life in which conversation and interaction with God becomes the primary focus of one’s day. Although this can be done in any walk of life to some extent – in Monastic life the structure of the day, the work and the environment is centered specifically on turning our thoughts and minds constantly to God.
It is not only in the Chapel that you will find the environment conducive to prayer. As you walk down the long hallways you will pass a little niche of Saint Anthony or move pass a quiet alcove where someone has placed a small vase of flowers before the Blessed Mother or lit a candle at the feet of Saint Joseph. Each room has a crucifix, a statue or a picture of someone or something reminding you to draw into conversation with God.
In the dining room we begin and end our meals with prayer, in the garden we have the Stations of the Cross, outdoor shrines to Saint Anthony, Saint Joseph, Saint Francis and a center splashing fountain and pool where a statue of the Blessed Mother resides above a rock waterfall. Our call is to prayer and we have cultivated carefully our environment to gently remind us of this call at every turn.
It is not a life that everyone would choose, but for those who do - the life holds meaning, beauty and contentment. We each enter from a different path through a different door, but here we find God and continue to see him in Eucharist, in one another, and in all of life.
Below are four different pathways that brought Sisters to this Monastic call.
|Sister Rita Louise |
The oldest of a family of eight children, I was raised in Yakima and received twelve years of Catholic education.
I experienced an early desire to love God (as St. Therese did) which grew into a desire for the religious life.
By the end of the eighth grade, I was firmly settled in the intention of becoming a cloistered Poor Clare Nun.
The specific attraction to the Poor Clare Order came through a phrase written in a diocesan newspaper,
“laughter floating out from behind the grille.” It was the joy of the Poor Clares which attracted me to their life!
The time of my entrance (1966) was just after the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council, and all the
changes were starting! The first years were exciting as the habits and names of the sisters were changed,
the liturgy adapted, the house renovated and numerous customs adapted – all with charity as the guiding
principle! I participated in many facets of the work of the community, and was the sacristan for over
twenty years. I am now going into my 14th year as community cook and was just elected Abbess.
I try to live united with God throughout the day and to desire above all else to have “the spirit
of the Lord and its holy activity.”
I grew up on a large horse and cattle ranch in Montana with an older sister, two
older brothers and a younger sister. My day and mom were foreman and “assistant” foreman.
There was a country grade school down the road which I attended through eighth grade.
My sister and I boarded in Lewistown in order to attend Catholic high school.
At the ranch I helped work cattle, breed and train Quarter Horses and do everyday
chores. During the summer I also helped paint “miles and miles” of white fence similar to
the white fences on the horse farms in Kentucky. I appreciate white fences much more than
the average person. 4-H and sports took up my spare time.
Through my brothers attending St. Anthony’s High School in Santa Barbara, California,
I found out about the Franciscans. I started with a fledging group of Secular Franciscans
in college and was a candidate with the Spokane fraternity while going through Medical
I found out about the Poor Clares in Spokane but was a little afraid of being
“too religious”. I visited with them several times and eventually lost my heart. After
internship, I entered in 1987.
Every year I seem to get “more religious” and more in love with my vocation.
I love to work outside in the garden or greenhouse or do active chores such as always
seem to abound in the monastery. I also work a lot with community correspondence and
other necessary challenges of life. I was recently elected Vicaress so am in the
process of “growing” into that job as well.
|Sister Jane |
3 min interview with Sr. Jane
The third child in a family of five, I was about nine years old when my
mother died and so I depended a lot on my two older sisters for support
and guidance. One became the ‘mother’ and the one who was next to me in
age became ‘my friend’. We talked about many things one of which was my
desire to be a nun when I grew up. We shared hours together making plans
about what we would do with our lives.
Because of circumstances, Dad was not able to keep us together as a
family and we were placed in foster homes. When I was twelve years old,
I went to the home of the Karwoski family; there I began to adjust my
life anew, in a loving, caring and happy home. I stayed with this family
during the rest of my teenage years. Julia Karwoski was like a mother to
me. She taught me how to cook her delicious Polish omelet and great
Italian Chili. The laughter was abundant as the family gathered to
decorate the Christmas tree and put the nativity scene in its special
place. Mom Karwoski filled those teen years with lots of love,
protection and guidance. I am sure it was here that my desire to
enter Religious life began in earnest!
Since entering the Monastery in 1969 I have done a number of things
that I never would have done outside of religious life. Each year I
seem to find new talents and abilities to develop. I love to work in
the field of art; painting, sculpturing, ceramics, candles, even
decorating birthday cakes or trimming Christmas trees. God seems to
open my eyes each day to serve him in a new way that I find happiness
and love in doing.
|Sister Marcia Kay |