Capuchin Poor Clares celebrate 30 years in Denver

The first Capuchin Poor Clares who set foot in the Mile-High city to stay arrived on the chilly morning of Nov. 17, 1988, from the Mexican city of Irapuato. Ten sisters had been chosen from among the numerous 42 members that resided in their former monastery, and they were ready to establish the third monastery of Capuchin Poor Clares in the country.

Thirty years later, they say they are overall grateful for the help and support they have received from people, and in their gratitude celebrated a Mass for their anniversary presided by Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila at Our Lady of Light Monastery in Denver on Nov. 17.

“What we experience the most is gratefulness to God and to the people that have supported us so much,” said Mother Maria de Cristo, abbess of Our Lady of Light Monastery. “Certainly, the community hasn’t grown that much but God has manifested himself through the many people that have touched our lives and the people that have been touched by ours.”

Six out of the eight sisters currently living at Our Lady of Light Monastery in the Highlands form part of the original group of 10 that answered the call by the Capuchin Provincial Minister of the Mid-America Province Charles J. Chaput, now Archbishop of Philadelphia and former Archbishop of Denver, to open the first Capuchin Poor Clare monastery in the province. Today, the order counts with two young women who are aspirants to enter the community.

Mother Maria de Cristo emphasized the importance of the Capuchin spirituality of trusting in God’s providence, which in the past few years has also taken the form of building a new monastery and receiving more vocations.

What we experience the most is gratefulness to God and to the people that have supported us so much”

“When we arrived, the archdiocese graciously provided us with a place to begin. It was a parish rectory that we have adapted as a monastery,” she said. “Now, the neighborhood is too populated and loud to live a contemplative life, so we hope to build a monastery according to our lifestyle.”

The sisters had originally purchased land in Watkins eight years ago, hoping to build a monastery there, but the busyness of oil companies led them to resell the land and look for a different option.

They are now hoping to begin building their new monastery next year in Byers, on a piece of land donated by a family of the same town.

“We hope that this new monastery will have a much better contemplative environment for us all and also for vocations,” Mother Maria de Cristo said.

Meanwhile, the Capuchin Poor Clares continue to pray for Denver and the Church.

“That is where our spiritual fruitfulness for the Church comes from,” Mother Maria de Cristo concluded. “We don’t live an intimist life, but rather, we’re here to offer up our lives and sacrifices for the Church and the needs in the world.”

Featured image by Anya Semenoff | A&D Creative

COMING UP: “Simple, humble” Julia Greeley placed on path to sainthood

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An ex-slave from Hannibal, Missouri, who found her way to Denver and the Catholic Church in the late 1800s, is now the first person the Archdiocese of Denver has proposed for sainthood.

The canonization process for Denver’s “Angel of Charity,” Julia Greeley, was officially opened with a special Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception Dec. 18.

Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila celebrated the Mass, during which the official edict proclaiming Greeley’s cause for sainthood was presented before the congregation, and members of the historical council and tribunal responsible for investigating her heroic virtues were sworn in.

“It is a historic movement for the Archdiocese of Denver as we move forward the first of the sessions toward the canonization of the servant of God, Julia Greeley,” Archbishop Aquila said during his homily. “It is truly wondrous when one looks at this simple, humble woman – a laywoman who is known because of her deep faith in Christ.”

David Uebbing, chancellor of the archdiocese, was sworn in Sunday as the vice-postulator of the cause, which means that he will help to oversee the investigation. “For the first time in the 129-year history of the Archdiocese of Denver, we have officially begun investigating the possibility that a saint lived in our midst,” Uebbing told Denver Catholic.

“I have already seen how news of Julia Greeley’s cause opening has brought joy and inspiration to people throughout northern Colorado,” he added, “and I believe that as knowledge of her spreads, more people will seek to follow her example of love for the poor and marginalized, in imitation of Jesus’ Sacred Heart, which she loved so much.”

Mary Lesiring, current director of the Julia Greeley guild, retraced the life of Julia Greeley at the Mass. An impoverished woman herself, Greeley was known for hauling goods around in a red wagon to families who were facing hardship, and she often did so using the cover of night so as to avoid bringing shame to those she helped.

She would also deliver Sacred Heart pamphlets to the firehouses around Denver, providing spiritual encouragement for those men who were in the dangerous profession of being firefighters.

“She’s a model for me,” Lesiring said of Greeley. “We’re all called to be saints, and it just goes to show that an ordinary person can become extraordinary. For some of us, she’s already a saint.”

The next session of the diocesan phase of the canonization process will take place Feb. 21. Capuchin Friar Father Gene Emrisek will be called as a witness to testify for Greeley’s reputation of holiness. Father Emrisek founded the Julia Greeley Guild in 2011.

When the diocesan phase of the investigation into Greeley’s possible sainthood closes, the investigators will send a report to the Vatican counting their findings. The Pontifical Commission for the Causes of Saints will then decide whether or not to continue along with the process.

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Intercessory Prayer

Heavenly Father, your servant Julia Greeley dedicated her life to honoring the Sacred Heart of your Son, and to the humble service of your children, especially the poor.

If it be in accordance with your holy will, please grant this favor I now ask through her intercession, ________.

I also ask, in the Name of Jesus, whose Sacred Heart filled Julia’s heart with love for all she met, that I may follow her example of humility and simplicity in loving you and my neighbor. Amen