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Spanish Cloistered Nuns See Surge In Vocations

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Just passing this along. :)

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Video: [url="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KuvmuYfOIag&feature=player_embedded#"]Spanish Cloistered Nuns See Surge in Vocations[/url]

[url="http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/new.php?n=17602"]Article[/url]

Madrid, Spain, Nov 5, 2009 / 01:51 pm (CNA).- A 43 year-old prioresses has revolutionized an old Poor Clares convent in Spain, turning it onto a magnet for dozens of young professional women.

Sister Veronica joined the Poor Clares Convent of the Ascension founded in 1604 in Lerma (Spain) at at time when it was going through a vocations crisis. It was January 22, 1984, and Marijose Berzosa - Sr. Veronica's name prior to entering the convent - decided, at age 18, to leave behind a career in medicine, friends, nightlife and baketball.

"Nobody understood me. There were bets that it would not last, but they did not feel the force of the hurricane that drew me in," says Sr. Veronica. "I was a classic teenager looking for a way out ... and I made a decision in just 15 days."

Sr. Veronica joined the convent which had not seen a new vocation in nearly 23 years.

Sr. Pureza de Maria Lubian, 70, now abbess of the convent in Burgos, was her formation director and remembers her Sr. Veronica as "a lovely girl.”

“Very noble and very good,” recalls Sr. Puerza de Maria. Sr. Vernoica “was 18 and had a future. She left everything. She followed the call of God. She had a rich personality. She was always a leader. And, spiritually, she had a great vocation.”

Sr. Puerza de Maria also notes that though Sr. Veronica faced many “struggles and difficulties,” she perservered and submitted to God's plan for her life.

The Spanish daily El Pais, one of the newspapers most sympathetic to the current Socialist government’s campaign against the Catholic Church in Spain, could not resist publishing an extensive report on Sr. Veronica. According to the newspaper, she “has become the biggest phenomenon in the Church since Teresa of Calcutta,” as “she has made the old convent of Lerma into an attractive recruiting banner for female vocations, with 135 professional women with a median age of 35 and 100 more on a waiting list.” The paper adds that Sr. Vernoica has also “opened a house in the town of La Aguilera, 24 miles from Lerma, at a huge monastery donated by her Franciscan brothers."

"It is an unexpected boom in vocations when the Jesuits have just 20 novices in all of Spain, the Franciscans, five, and the Vincentians, two. And it’s happening at a time when nuns are being imported from India, Kenya or Paraguay to prevent the closure of convents inhabited by elderly nuns, and when most of our priests are above the age of 60," the report indicated.

On weekends the convent welcomes hundreds of pilgrims: families, young members of ecclesial movements and church groups arrive in buses to attend the prayers, theatrical plays and talks on fully living the Christian life.

According to El Pais, the majority of the young sisters who have been attracted to the cloister "have been in relationships and had careers.” The women are strong in their knowledge of theology, and are “urban and educated.”

In addition, “None are immigrants. There are five sisters from the same family, eleven pairs of blood sisters and a few twins. Most are from the middle class. And they have college degrees. This community offers a complete roster of lawyers, economists, physicists and chemists, roadway engineers, industrial workers, agricultural workers and aeronautics engineers, architects, doctors, pharmacists, biologists and physical therapists, librarians, philologists, teachers and photographers.”

One of the sisters in the community interviewed by El Pais defines the cloister as "an house open to those who knock on our door. We want to share our faith, to make known what is happening to us. And if they see Jesus in us, go ahead. Spain is so pagan that we need to share our faith, not live it alone. It is time to act."

The growth of the cloister since the arrival of Sister Veronica has been explosive: in 1994, when she was appointed mistress of novices at the age of 28, nearly 30 sisters entered. In 2002 there were 72, in 2004, there were 92. In 2005, the number rose to 105. Late last September there were 134.

Originally in a 16th century convent built to accommodate 32, the sisters are being leased the monastery of La Aguliera by the Franciscan Friars of Lerma. It is located adjacent to the sanctuary and the tomb of St. Peter Regalado.

The monastery is quickly being renovated to provide a modern, functional and well-lit space, with energy obtained through solar panels.

The new monastery has 100 cells, each with bed, table and kneeler, while a parlor with a capacity of 400, a hospice, bathrooms for visitors, and a new chapel are currently being constructed.

Recently, Father Raniero Cantalamessa, Preacher of the Papal Household, preached to 140 Poor Clares in Lerma. The visit by the Italian Capuchin was broadcast by the RAI network (Italian Radio and Television) in prime time in Italy.

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This is just the power of the holy spirit in action.
These sisters are full of the holy spirit-the holy spirit always attract the true children of God to IT.

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This is the link to the video with English subtitles. Enjoy!
[url="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KuvmuYfOIag&feature=player_embedded#"]http://www.youtube.c...layer_embedded#[/url]

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No, they don't have a website. Actually they are very cloistered.

They have a waiting list for entrance so they don't need the website to make themselves known as the vocations have come by word of mouth.

They published a book with many of the stories of the vocations of the nuns. Edited by Orans

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There are many cloistered communities who have websites, sharing about their vocation... how was Mother Veronica able to create this surge in vocations?

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This page speaks a little about your question:

[url="http://translate.google.com/translate?prev=hp&hl=en&js=y&u=http%3A%2F%2Freligionenlibertad.com%2Farticulo.asp%3Fidarticulo%3D4461%26mes%3D%26ano%3D&sl=es&tl=en&history_state0="]http://translate.goo...history_state0=[/url]

I've copied it here with some little editing to help with the meaning.

[img]http://religionenlibertad.com/imagenes/sp.gif[/img]
Updated September 12, 2009
[url="http://translate.googleusercontent.com/translate_c?hl=en&sl=es&tl=en&u=http://religionenlibertad.com/articulo.asp%3Fidarticulo%3D4461&prev=hp&rurl=translate.google.com&usg=ALkJrhhcrnjG4LM0GWVArjvvJ2b7JnKe1w"]Hooray for the Poor Clares of Lerma![/url] [img]http://religionenlibertad.com/imagenes/sp.gif[/img]
[img]http://religionenlibertad.com/imagenes/sp.gif[/img] I am delighted with the news, this week, when we are told that the Poor Clares of Lerma have opened a convent in [b]San Pedro Regalado,[/b] La Aguilera, Burgos. I know that given their flood of vocations they had been for quite some time trying to establish it, and the whole Church must rejoice with this great news.

I've been in [b]Lerma[/b] three times and it has always been a fascinating experience to see these nuns who share their testimony, give you pastry and sing to God, and pour themselves to those who come to visit.



[img]http://www.gestornoticias.com/archivos/religionenlibertad.com/image/vista%20de%20lerma.jpg[/img]

There are many things I like about Lerma. To begin with, what has happened is the story of a young nun, [b]Veronica Berzosa,[/b] who felt the calling to enter a convent where the sisters were already quite advanced in years. She persevered for years without other young Sisters coming until finally there was this [i]explosion.[/i] I'm sure that for her, this was a real test, and also for the community, which then the [b]Lord[/b] blessed -when He wished and as He wished. The community had the wisdom of appointing her novice mistress when she was only 28.

What happened next deserves a reflection. One [b]vocation[/b] calls another vocation, and thus, in a few years, more than a hundred nuns crowded a convent originally made to accommodate quite fewer numbers.

Something changed in Lerma in view of the path the Lord led them. On one hand, being Franciscans gave them the freedom to live a kind of fraternity that is key in a convent. Someone said once that [i]you enter the Church because of Christ, but you remain in it because of friendships[/i]. Some of this has also to be true in religious life, and [b]Saint Francis and Saint Claire[/b], as well as many who followed them, knew this.

[img]http://www.gestornoticias.com/archivos/religionenlibertad.com/image/ama%20del%20todo.jpg[/img]

On the other hand, what fascinates me is that the Poor Clares tell you that the Lord is leading them by a somewhat peculiar way within the universe of contemplatives. They have become a sort of [b]center of evangelization,[/b] so that they are always open to visits from as many people as come to their monastery. Anyone who goes there can go see them, talk with them and enjoy their pastries. Of course they will give witness, sing and dance together, and will share that madness of love that led them to lock themselves behind a grille and leave other things -apparently more attractive to today's society- behind.

Somehow they have managed to bring out the best of their Franciscan tradition. They've had the freshness of being attentive to the voice of the [b]Spirit,[/b] which is always new, and they have made something new among convents. They have become contemplatives dedicated to evangelize not only through prayer but also through word and presence.

I'm not saying they are the only ones, I'm only pointing out that they've had the measure to do something new without losing the essence of things ... to new wine, new bottles.

To me the fact that they are young and [b]college graduates,[/b] that they left boyfriends and jobs behind, I think this is just journalist talk which makes good headlines though without depth. It is true that someone getting into a convent makes the news if they have something to leave behind.

[img]http://www.gestornoticias.com/archivos/religionenlibertad.com/image/clarisas%20mas.jpg[/img]

There is a story told about the brother [color="#ff8c00"][[/color][color="#ffa500"][color="#ff8c00"]s[/color]ibling][/color] of B[b]rother Rafael [color="#ff8c00"][Saint Brother Raphael OCSO[/color][/b] [color="#ff8c00"]canonized[/color] [color="#ff8c00"]Oct'2009][/color][b] ,[/b]who was a Carthusian monk living for some time in the Trappist monastery of Dueñas due to his work in promoting the process of beatification of his brother. As novice [master] when a candidate would show up he would ask: [i]"Do you have a girlfriend?".[/i] If the answer was no, he would ask again [i]"do you have a job?"[/i] And if the answer was [i]"no"[/i] he said, [i]"then go to the world, and when you have something to leave behind then come again."[/i]

Somehow the Poor Clares of Lerma make good what was said about the [b]Jesuits,[/b] "who is not suited for the world is not suited for the Company."

What is, in my understanding, the key to so many vocations? Humanly [speaking] there are many. Somehow the nuns of Lerma show the best of today's [b]movements,[/b] as they have people from the Church's every "fur" (that is, people from the movements and from some parishes that are booming). But the important thing is that they have been able to seek first the kingdom of [b]God,[/b] and everything else has been given to them in addition. [They've done it] Without anxiety or obsession around the issue of vocations and with much docility to the promptings of the Spirit, and without fear of doing new things or breaking monastic paradigms.

That being said, I hope and wish that they continue making foundations and innovating, that they don't settle into the "success" that so many vocations involve, so that this path that the Lord wanted to create through them in the Spanish monastic world may grow.

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[quote name='HisChild' date='06 November 2009 - 04:21 AM' timestamp='1257477681' post='1996895']
There are many cloistered communities who have websites, sharing about their vocation... how was Mother Veronica able to create this surge in vocations?
[/quote]

Its the power of the HOLY SPIRIT.

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[quote name='HisChild' date='06 November 2009 - 04:21 AM' timestamp='1257477681' post='1996895']
There are many cloistered communities who have websites, sharing about their vocation... how was Mother Veronica able to create this surge in vocations?
[/quote]

Its the power of the HOLY SPIRIT. Edited by babygirl

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Yes, it is the Holy Spirit.
But I've also to say that when I joined phatmass for the first time (by chance: I was looking for an information with google), it seemed quite strange to me that people look for convent/religious orders through Internet.
I don't know how this works in US, but in Europe we aren't very used to do discernment online yet, so we usually still contact religious instituions through friends, priests, or simply through the fame of a particular convent or order.

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[quote name='Orans' date='05 November 2009 - 10:29 PM' timestamp='1257485355' post='1996975']
This page speaks a little about your question:

Something changed in Lerma in view of the path the Lord led them. On one hand, being Franciscans gave them the freedom to live a kind of fraternity that is key in a convent. Someone said once that [i][u]you enter the Church because of Christ, but you remain in it because of friendships[[/u]/i]. Some of this has also to be true in religious life, and [b]Saint Francis and Saint Claire[/b], as well as many who followed them, knew this.
...
On the other hand, what fascinates me is that the Poor Clares tell you that the Lord is leading them by a somewhat peculiar way within the universe of contemplatives. They have become a sort of [b]center of evangelization,[/b] so that they are always open to visits from as many people as come to their monastery. Anyone who goes there can go see them, talk with them and enjoy their pastries. Of course they will give witness, sing and dance together, and will share that madness of love that led them to lock themselves behind a grille and leave other things -apparently more attractive to today's society- behind.
...
Somehow they have managed to bring out the best of their Franciscan tradition. They've had the freshness of being attentive to the voice of the [b]Spirit,[/b] which is always new, and [u]they have made something new among convents.[/u] They have become contemplatives dedicated to evangelize not only through prayer but also through word and presence.
...
Somehow the Poor Clares of Lerma make good what was said about the [b]Jesuits,[/b] "who is not suited for the world is not suited for the Company."
...

[/quote]

I pulled out snippets from that article. Thank you so much for sharing it! But these four parts are what really affected me. I can't tell you how many times I've either experienced or heard or read about someone else's experience in religious life where there really wasn't a measure of fraternity to all or the measure in which the penances were done were in the spirit of doom and gloom.

The underlined parts are my own emphases. I would like to see a convent or a monastery that's more about the joy of the Spirit and less about rubrics and rules, although I'm not saying one should live in an anarchy either. Monastic life in and of itself is about sacrifice. One gives up her own family, marriage, children, possessions, and the rest of the world, some of which is difficult to give up and others not so much. But after the difficulties of sacrifice of simply entering religious life, and the somewhat penitential aspect of not 'being able to do whatever you want' (ie: sleep until ten on one's day off or not do the dishes immediately after dinner, or going out with a friend for an ice cream or a movie after a long week) one should not also find the additional hardships of pettiness, or being told to do something unpleasant just to see if you'll obey, or being told to lick the floor because you accidentally spoke during the Grand Silence. I know that we look at some of the saints' lives and think 'how brave they were when they were persecuted by their own monastic brothers and sisters! How brave they were and saintly they were when others in their realization that they were dealing with a saint, made life all the harder for them!' Various penances done at particular times of the day or week, ie: holding arms out when praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, or the discipline, I think are penance enough without having to have the additional humiliation and penances of unkindness from your fellow sisters.

I know that not every religious community is as...harsh... as I used for an example and I do NOT have any one particular community in mind when I write this. I'm just mentioning bits and pieces of experience either by me or by others which were directly told to me.

I don't know the entirety of these sisters' lives, but what I can see is that all are loved and all are accepted and all are incredibly happy... and their walls are bursting with vocations! Boy, I'd love to get Mother Veronica in a room and ask her more!




[quote name='organwerke' date='06 November 2009 - 05:27 AM' timestamp='1257510436' post='1997033']
Yes, it is the Holy Spirit.
But I've also to say that when I joined phatmass for the first time (by chance: I was looking for an information with google), it seemed quite strange to me that people look for convent/religious orders through Internet.
I don't know how this works in US, but in Europe we aren't very used to do discernment online yet, so we usually still contact religious instituions through friends, priests, or simply through the fame of a particular convent or order.
[/quote]

Before I entered Carmel, DCJ in 1993, all I had to go on was the Guide to Religious Ministries, a small blue book which listed the names and addresses of various religous life in the US, and a sometimes a little snippet of how many members, their apostolate and perhaps something else. By that alone I had to decide if I wanted to write for a brochure or not. I went on a LOT of visits. And back then, there were no convents or monasteries with habited sisters in Arizona, so I had to go to other states. Very expensive! I visited two monasteries in TX, one in AL, two in NY, 5 in CA. The internet is actually a great tool that makes so many trips not as necessary and keeps not only the expenses down for the sisters (I had at one time 4 dozen brochures from various monastic communities!) who only have to pay a small fee each year for web hosting and domain name rights, but also keeps expenses down for discerners.


(Edited for grammar and clarification) Edited by HisChild
organwerke props this

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Yes it's the Holy Spirit. But also the fruit of the Spirit in the faithfulness of Mother Veronica. I pray for her courage and faith in my own life.

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[quote name='HisChild' date='06 November 2009 - 06:11 PM' timestamp='1257523882' post='1997109']
The internet is actually a great tool that makes so many trips not as necessary and keeps not only the expenses down for the sisters (I had at one time 4 dozen brochures from various monastic communities!) who only have to pay a small fee each year for web hosting and domain name rights, but also keeps expenses down for discerners.
[/quote]

Oh, but I think too that internet is a great tool also for vocational research! I was only saying that maybe it isn't used very much yet for this in Europe...and so I thought that this could be another explanation for the fact that this convent is very well known although it hasn't a website!
God bless, and I agree completely with you for all what you say in this post! :) Edited by organwerke

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[quote name='organwerke' date='06 November 2009 - 11:05 AM' timestamp='1257530747' post='1997185']
Oh, but I think too that internet is a great tool also for vocational research! I was only saying that maybe it isn't used very much yet for this in Europe...and so I thought that this could be another explanation for the fact that this convent is very well known although it hasn't a website!
God bless, and I agree completely with you for all what you say in this post! :)
[/quote]


Ah, gotcha. Yeah, nothing like word of mouth, to be sure!

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[quote name='babygirl' date='06 November 2009 - 06:50 AM' timestamp='1257508227' post='1997028']
Its the power of the HOLY SPIRIT.
[/quote]

The Holy Spirit is ALWAYS powerful ... except that doesn't seem to like "acting alone".
Mother Veronica must have collaborated very closely with the Holy Spirit when she was only a candidate, and a postulant, and a novice....

She spent 10 years in an unlikely community .... only after those 10 years there was a change.

I think this is important for us as discerners and disciples to realize that the potential is in each one of us to do amazing things if only we are truly faithful to the Spirit here and now, every day, when it is not likely that things are going to get anywhere, when we wonder if God is around, or even if God IS -or cares- at all.

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I think you all have pinpointed it. This seems to be often the case whenever there is a new boom in vocations in a certain community, that is; it usually seems to be traced back to the faithfulness of one person, who allowed the plan of God to unfold in their lives (as Saint Faustina stated; [i]"Let no soul, even the most miserable, fall prey to doubt; for, as longas one is alive, each one can become a great saint, so great is the power of God's grace. It remains only for us not to oppose God'sactions."[/i])[i].[/i]

A similar circumstance occurred in the Philippines with a priest who joined the FI. Wherever this priest was sent, he would draw many new vocations. Today there are over 60 postulants to the FI in the Philippines alone, whereas in America and Italy (where the FI have the most houses) there are maybe just 4 or 5.

In this way, we see the great efficacy in the holiness of just one person, who, with his love for God alone, can help inspire that love in others. The holiness of one person is enough to inflame not just a community, but an entire region to new fervor of sanctity. As it is said, it only takes a tiny spark to generate a sweeping conflagration. Edited by four_waters

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[quote name='four_waters' date='07 November 2009 - 10:14 AM' timestamp='1257614080' post='1997754']


Another factor may also be that the the culture in certain countries is more disposed to abandoning oneself to grace and to trust, whereas in more 'advanced' countries like America (where there is greater spirit of independence [or, self-will] and less trust), the mentality is naturally more opposed to the action of grace.
[/quote]


And here it is in a nutshell, that abandonment of self will. We've been taught at such a young age to 'look out for number one' that knowingly or unknowingly, we're disallowing grace... and what's even sadder is that there are many who recognize this but don't know where to go from that point, how to allow Grace back in.

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[quote name='Orans' date='06 November 2009 - 02:29 AM' timestamp='1257485355' post='1996975']
There is a story told about the brother [color="#ff8c00"][[/color][color="#ffa500"][color="#ff8c00"]s[/color]ibling][/color] of B[b]rother Rafael [color="#ff8c00"][Saint Brother Raphael OCSO[/color][/b] [color="#ff8c00"]canonized[/color] [color="#ff8c00"]Oct'2009][/color][b] ,[/b]who was a Carthusian monk living for some time in the Trappist monastery of Dueñas due to his work in promoting the process of beatification of his brother. As novice [master] when a candidate would show up he would ask: [i]"Do you have a girlfriend?".[/i] If the answer was no, he would ask again [i]"do you have a job?"[/i] And if the answer was [i]"no"[/i] he said, [i]"then go to the world, and when you have something to leave behind then come again."[/i]

Somehow the Poor Clares of Lerma make good what was said about the [b]Jesuits,[/b] "who is not suited for the world is not suited for the Company."
[/quote]

Off the top of my head, I am guessing that the newly canonized Trappist brother Raphael must have been one of the martyrs in Northwest Africa, where Muslims predominate; that entire group of religious was a group of Trappist [OCSO] monks.
So, his birth-brother entered the Carthusian order? There is more than one monastery of Carthusian monks in Spain alone, wonder if the two brothers were of Spanish origin. Oh, dear. I am resisting a temptation to digress and ramble on the topic of Spanish charterhouses...don't go there, it would take all day.
Regarding Spain: a recent report from the Order of Preachers' [Dominican order -- St Dominic would not permit the order to be officially named for him] Promoter of [cloistered] nuns, fr. Brian Pierce OP, observed that Spain has more communities of contemplative nuns than any other country in the world....and they are rapidly dying out. What he says is certainly true where monasteries of cloistered OP [Dominican] nuns are concerned, and as their Promoter it is he who has to help the nuns to relocate/merge/suppress/shut-down their communities as need be. I don't see how the surge in young Poor Clare vocations could possibly be too much, given these circumstances.

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I was wrong. I apologize. My bad....
Just checked out the OCSO/Trappist monks known as The Atlas Martyrs. Not a Raphael in the lot. Brother Raphael must be somebody else entirely.
Moreover, my post presumed that the Atlas Martyrs were from Spain...wrong, they were French Trappists.
Okay, I'll see if I can scare up this Saint Brother Raphael OCSO, whoever he was. Sorry about that.

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