The Capuchin Poor Clare Sisters have been a prayerful presence in the Archdiocese of Denver for 25 years. On Nov. 17 their community and its supporters gathered at St. Patrick Oratory at 3325 Pecos St. in Denver for a Mass of thanksgiving to celebrate their anniversary.
Father Bill Krause, O.F.M. Cap., celebrant and homilist, recalled the day in 1988 when 10 Capuchin Poor Clare nuns arrived at Denver’s Stapleton Airport from their monastery in Irapuato, Guanajuato, Mexico to establish Our Lady of Light Monastery in north Denver.
“We were all excited because we hadn’t seen any of the sisters before,” he said. “I remember when they came up through the gate… they were joyful and at the same time, a little bit scared about what they were getting in to.”
The Poor Clare nuns were invited to the archdiocese by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M., Cap., prior to being an archbishop when he was provincial of the Capuchins’ Mid-America Province, and then Denver archbishop, now Cardinal J. Francis Stafford. They were invited so all three Franciscan orders would be represented in the province: Capuchin friars, Poor Clares and Secular (or Third Order) Franciscans.
“It was great from the viewpoint of our Franciscan family,” Father Krause said, “to see that they would come and in largely complete our Franciscan family.”
Stephanie Pedersen, director of development for the province, agreed.
“I’ve known (the sisters) since they got here,” she said. “For me, it’s a fulfillment really of the whole Capuchin order… to have all three parts of the order represented in Denver is a great witness to me as a layperson of the role St. Francis can play in everybody’s every-day life.”
The Poor Clare Order was founded by St. Clare in 13th-century Italy under the guidance and inspiration of St. Francis of Assisi. The rule she composed was approved on Aug. 9, 1253, just two days before she died. Three centuries later, in Naples, Italy, the Capuchin Poor Clares were established as part of the renewal of the Franciscan Order.
The mission of the cloistered community of the six Denver sisters is to live the Gospel, joyfully embracing a life of poverty and fraternity. The nuns’ daily schedule includes praying the Liturgy of the Hours, contemplative prayer, eucharistic devotion, Mass and work. They support themselves by baking and selling delicious, soft butter cookies (see accompanying box for details) and by sewing habits.
“There have been so many joys and blessings,” said Sister Maria de Cristo Palafox, former abbess and one of the original 10 sisters in Denver. “Since the beginning, I have felt very welcome and embraced by the Church in Denver and our Capuchin brothers, as well as by the beautiful community of St. Patrick.”
Sister Palafox is grateful for the “charity of so many people that have supported us.”
“To experience the provident love of God is a fountain of joy in our lives,” she said. “He is always exceeding our expectations and he blesses us with an abundance of material and spiritual goods. For the past 25 years we have never lacked the bread of the Eucharist, food for our souls; nor have we lacked the material bread that has come to us in various ways.”
For more information on the Poor Clares, call 303-458-6339 or visit www.capuchinpoorclares.org.
Julie Filby: 303-715-3123; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.twitter.com/DCRegisterJulie
At A Glance
Capuchin Poor Clare Sisters
Our Lady of Light Monastery | St. Patrick Oratory
3325 Pecos St., Denver
Mass 11 a.m. every Sunday
Support the sisters
Purchase: Made-from-scratch Clarisa’s Cookies
Flavors: Coconut, orange, cinnamon, vanilla
Cost: $13 box
Order: www.capuchinpoorclares.org or call 303-458-6339