When the Capuchin Poor Clare sisters arrived in Denver from a monastery in Irapuato, Guanajuato, Mexico in 1988, they settled in the Highlands neighborhood northwest of downtown, then a relatively quiet area. At Our Lady of Light Monastery at 3325 Pecos St., the cloistered nuns carried out their private life of prayer, fraternity and poverty.
Over the last several years, redevelopment of the Central Platte Valley has led to rapid growth in the Highlands. That, combined with the draw of historically interesting architecture, has made it one of the city’s “it” places to live: now overflowing with condos, lofts, restaurants, bars and shops—and no longer quiet.
“We’ve been here a long time,” said Mother Teresa Angeles, the abbess, who has lived there nearly 26 years. “This place is very dear to us. It’s very beautiful.”
But, she continued, it is no longer conducive to their secluded way of life.
Due to the growth, that includes high-rise buildings around the monastery, plus limited renovation possibilities in the 1907 Spanish-style structure on the National Register of Historic Places, the nuns began considering a move.
“We started looking a few years ago for different reasons,” explained Sister Maria de Cristo Palafox.
Reasons also included that the old building, the former rectory for St. Patrick Church, was not accommodating when they were caring for an elderly sister in poor health; and the structure warranted costly repairs for the sisters who generate only modest income by baking and sewing.
They looked and looked, but the right property never presented itself. That is, until they stopped looking.
“All of the sudden” a few months ago, friend and benefactor, Frank Linnebur, a real estate broker with Colorado Land Realty in Byers, found what they were looking for in a property for sale 6 miles south of nearby Watkins.
“It’s very nice, very green, very quiet,” Sister Palafox said of the 35-acre property surrounded by farmland. “It will be really helpful for our way of life, for our life of prayer, and we will have more contact with nature.”
The Poor Clares purchased the land at 1250 S. Bonnie Lane with support from donors and their brother community, the Capuchin Franciscan Friars. They are also grateful for support from the community at Our Lady of the Plains in Byers and pastor Father Jeff Wilborn.
Now they need a home. Currently there is a two-story modular home on the property that needs to be repaired and remodeled. The sisters are working on plans with architect Paul Adams of Earth and Sky Architecture that specializes in sustainable, environmentally sensitive design; and contractors Kevin Knigge with New Frontier Homes and Bob Stewart with Hillside Country Homes. They have obtained required permits and hope to begin the $1.5 million project soon, which will include: a dormitory wing for the eight nuns, chapel, public area separate from the cloister to welcome visitors, functional kitchen to bake their popular Clarissa’s cookies, sewing room, dining room, library, office, space for novitiate, and an infirmary to care for ill or elderly sisters.
“We’ve been told we are optimistic,” said Mother Angeles with a smile. “The Lord is helping us. We are mainly trusting in divine providence. The Lord is calling us to this project.”
To raise money they are planning fundraisers, including the Festival of St. Clare Aug. 2-3 (see details below). For more information or to support the Capuchin Poor Clares, visit www.ourladyoflightmonastery.com or call 303-458-6339.
St. Clare Festival
What: Fundraiser for Poor Clares’ monastery
When: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Aug. 2, noon-4 p.m. Aug. 3
Where: 3325 Pecos St., Denver
What: Sale of religious articles, crafts, baked goods, food; entertainment and live music
Donation request: items for yard sale and raffle prizes
Call: 303-458-6339 or email email@example.com