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Special Report

By Sarah Masterson
December 23, 2021

Why would anyone become a nun today? Leaving aside the call from God, women band together in community to support one another physically, emotionally and spiritually, as a life-time family, to enhance their worship with all community brings, and to get things done. The Monastery of the Franciscan Missionaries seeks to be a loving family keeping a balance of being deeply prayerful, responsive to the leading of the Holy Spirit and fully integrated into the local church and her mission.

In the monastery itself, two women gather two to three times a day for prayer and to receive Holy Communion and then scatter to professional and church service. They are both working together in a health care clinic with two other employees, and, also, involved in catechesis and ministry to college students. Each week they gather with a larger group for Spirit-led intercessory prayer, and occasionally they take on particular one on one prayer ministry.

The larger dispersed community, called the Third Order, consists of married and single people who live in their own homes, and that community comes together with them each week for Evening Prayer via zoom and once a month for faith sharing and collaborative apostolate, usually meaning prayer and encouragement. The Third Order provides both the nuns and the Third Order with a stronger support network of prayer and encouragement in mission. The integrated communities share a common mission to bring the Gospel to the people, the people to the sacraments and the tender love of Jesus to everyone and a common Franciscan spirituality rooted and grounded in the fruits of the Holy Spirit and honoring other people. Many people join the Third Order to participate in its formation program, growing in faith, service, and spirituality; many others treasure the spiritual benefits of close association with a Sister's prayers and insight from deep prayer, learning to pray more powerfully, and being able to draw close to and participate at some level in the intense prayer life of the monastery and its good works.

The communities are authentic, rooted in ancient canonical principles, striving after holiness and to reach souls, and firmly orthodox, but they are not traditional, rigid or divisive. They pray Divine Office from the Book of Common Prayer, have periods of fasting, silence, and retreat, are chaste and simple and live intensely sacramental lives with daily personal prayer time, but they are flexible in their liturgical style, accommodating, gracious, respectful of others, gentle and generous.

"We live a life of service and over the years we have done practically everything: camps, retreats, publishing, prayer ministry, foreign mission work--even run a homeless shelter," says Mother Sarah, but our greatest blessing has been the parish church. It is a synergy of discernment, prophetic encouragement, sacramental power, work and recreation, intimate worship; we are simply an intense unit of that. We could not exist by ourselves--just our wants and desires--we exist to serve others. Being part of the Church is bigger than you and I. We cuddle up to others tending wounds, loving, honoring and sharing the many resources of our faith--but most of all the living, tingling touch of Jesus. He's the one who blesses lives. We are just instruments of His peace and goodness."

Right now, the integrated community of nun, monastic volunteer, and Third Order Dispersed is planning their annual community retreat--a weekend of fellowship, prayerful and sacramental renewal and learning. The community also offers retreats for women and men of all ages who are discerning a call to monastic life. These twenty-four-hour retreats provide a special time of worship, discernment before the Blessed Sacrament, learning about authentic religious life and experiencing it in the rhythms of the community life and personal relationships.

They begin on a Saturday morning and continue until about noon on Sunday. If you are interested in visiting the monastery, either for personal retreat and rest, or to discern a vocation with us, please give Mother Sarah a call at (574) 453-1082.


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