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HomeLocalAround the ArchdioceseGroundbreaking in plains marks a new era for Denver's Capuchin Poor Clares

Groundbreaking in plains marks a new era for Denver’s Capuchin Poor Clares

After 35 years of residing in the heart of Denver, the Capuchin Poor Clare Sisters have decided to move to a new monastery, which is projected to be built by the end of 2024 – and the recent groundbreaking ceremony means that the dream for the much-needed monastery is closer to becoming a reality. On June 1, Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila, accompanied by several members of the community, blessed the land in Byers, Colo., where the Poor Clare sisters will soon reside.  

For the contemplative sisters, the groundbreaking marks a new beginning that will allow them to return to their roots of silent prayer and contemplation in community and set apart from the world. 

In the last decade, new challenges have forced them to look for a new site. The area where they are currently located has undergone a redevelopment process that has displaced its original population. The quiet, family neighborhood they arrived in 35 years ago has been transformed into the modern “Highlands,” a crowded area with restaurants, bars, noise and partying that often interrupts their time of prayer and contemplation.  

“When we arrived, everything was quieter,” Sister Maria told the Denver Catholic. “It was different. It wasn’t as noisy as it is now. Now we will be in the chapel when suddenly someone will try to force the doors open. Late at night, we can hear people shouting down the street. It has also become more dangerous.” 

The sister also described how on some occasions people will leave garbage in the garden and how they have even encountered intruders trying to enter the property.  

But it’s not all negative, as these changes have also brought new people into the Church, which has been very fulfilling for the sisters.  

“We have met new people from the neighborhood who come to us asking for prayers, to buy cookies, and some even come to Mass,” Sister Maria shared. “There are young people who have also been attending Mass more often. There are couples who say they live nearby, and they didn’t know anything about us, but they have started to come to buy cookies, to be interested. As I said, not everything is negative.” 

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Arrival 

The Capuchin Poor Clare Sisters arrived in Denver in 1988 from a community in Irapuato, Mexico, following an invitation from then-Archbishop l J. Francis Stafford to start a new monastery near downtown Denver. Of the 42 sisters who made up the community in Irapuato, 10 were chosen to move to the United States. 

The sisters established a new monastery at the former rectory of St. Patrick’s Church in Denver and began their mission of praying for the Archdiocese of Denver. 

Photo provided

“Archbishop Stafford asked us to be dedicated to praying for the whole Archdiocese of Denver, and in a very special way he commissioned us to dedicate our prayers for the Hispanic community, because he had a lot of concern for the Hispanic community,” Sister Maria recalls. 

“Our charism is fraternity, contemplation and, above all, prayer and work,” she added. “We have hours of prayer in the morning, Liturgy of the Hours, Eucharist, and an hour of meditation. After 9 a.m., work begins until noon. We work in the bakery, we take care of the church, we make the habits for the Capuchin brothers…. But, above all, what distinguishes us is contemplation and fraternity.”  

A New Beginning 

Although the changes in the surrounding area were an important factor in the sisters’ decision to move, they began considering that possibility 20 years ago, when they noticed that the current building was no longer a suitable home. The building was old, and the list of critical and expensive repairs continued to grow. In addition to the necessary upgrades and maintenance, which the sisters are unable to keep up with, the building is not accessible to the older sisters with mobility issues.  

For years, the sisters have been praying for a new monastery. After several disappointments and financial obstacles, a benefactor generously provided a property of over 100 acres in Byers, Colorado. The Poor Clares have started a campaign to raise funds to complete this project that will allow them to continue their peaceful life of prayer.   

“The current cost (of the construction) is estimated at five million dollars, and we have approximately three million that we have raised over the years thanks to donors from the community,” sister Maria said, trusting that God will provide, and that the community of faithful will help them make their new home a reality.  

Some of this money has been raised through sales of their popular “Clarisas’ cookies,” which over the years have gained more and more popularity in Colorado and even out of state. 

Photo provided

“The cookies are what we brought with us; it is an inheritance from Irapuato. In Irapuato, they make these same kind of cookies,” Sister Maria explained. “When we arrived in Denver, the Capuchin brothers asked us what we knew how to do to see how they could help us. The mother superior told them that we knew how to sew, make ornaments, and bake cookies. They were very excited with the cookies! Mother superior started with small quantities in the oven of the kitchen stove.” 

Over the years, the cookies began to “sell like hot cakes” and now the sisters have a special kitchen to prepare their cookies and an online store where people from out of state can place their orders and contribute to the sisters’ cause.  

Campaign 

With the campaign to build the new monastery still in progress, the Poor Clare Sisters continue to pray and work to raise the necessary amount. 

To this end, the St. Clare Festival will be held next August at their current parish of St. Patrick in Denver. Everyone is invited to attend this event and support the sisters. For those who would like to purchase cookies or make a donation, they may do so through their website, capuchinpoorclaresdenver.org 

“We are very grateful to our community, to our Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila and to Bishop Jorge H. Rodriguez, as we have always felt their support and they have always helped us,” Sister Maria expressed. “We thank the entire archdiocese for their support, the priests; when we have asked for donations, the parishes always have responded. We are also very grateful to the Capuchin brothers because they have helped us a lot. We pray for the entire community of the Archdiocese of Denver and in the same way we ask for your prayers, because we need them as much as you do.” 

While it is possible to begin the construction of the new monastery with the funds collected up to this point, the sisters hope to collect enough funds in order to complete the project without interruption. Construction is expected to take approximately 16 months.

“We trust that the Lord is going to help us and that we are going to be able to continue with our life, but most importantly, with our peaceful life of prayer,” Sister María concluded. 

To learn more about the Capuchin Poor Clares or to make a gift for the new monastery, visit capuchinpoorclaresdenver.org 

To donate by mail:
Capuchin Poor Clares | New Monastery Fund
3325 Pecos St.
Denver, CO 80211 

Rocio Madera
Rocio Madera
Rocio is the Communications Specialist for both El Pueblo Católico and Denver Catholic.
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