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Chiara Francesco

Companions Of Clare - New Community For Older Women

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Chiara Francesco

 

A good friend of mine, an older vocation like myself and many here, found this new contemplative community and will visit soon.  She wrote this about them in an email to me:

 

"I found a very new community forming in Maine, "Companions of Clare." The foundress was a Poor Clare from New Orleans. She left & went up to NH for more solitude; then she wound up caring for her Mom for some 14 years.
She is 67 & founding a community approved by the Bishop of Maine (one diocese only in the State).
 
If you google up Companions of Clare you will see the main website; but there are also some separate pdf pages that will come up with the full habit & horarium. The commuity is specifically for women 62 or older & who have been in religious life as Sisters/Nuns."
 
The website says, "The primary focus group is women 62 or older, but no one will be refused consideration due to age."
 
and
 
"We wish to create a Roman Catholic community following the Primitive Rule of St. Clare, involving older women. The primary focus in the organization of our group will be women 62 or older who left religious life and wish to reenter, or those who wish to give the rest of their lives to God.  However, we realize the Spirit may direct others to us, so we will be willing to accept other age brackets. Originally this concept was meant to fill a personal need. However, very few people stand alone so the concept of this community was developed to provide a venue for others."
 
and
 
"While retaining our legal autonomy, we have been blessed by receiving sponsorship by the Friars of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus Province.  Our agreement with them includes a Spiritual Guide, supplied by the Province, who will monitor our prayer life and practices to assure we are in keeping with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church and the Spirit of Francis and Clare."
 
I LOVE this!  So wise in realizing God DOES call men and women at ALL ages and us older ones DO have much to give and can live the monastic life!:
 
"Our research has determined the cutoff age for entrance into existing communities is generally 50 years of age.  We believe the Spirit works in older individuals, as well.

Acceptance of retired women as a norm would set us apart from existing communities, would justify our request to build this community and fill a real need in the Franciscan Order and the Church.

Age brings about wisdom. Older women, who are called by God to live a radical existence and consecrate their lives in intensity of holiness, are stable, and have had a wide variety of real life experiences. They are able to make an educated choice to answer God’s call with a “fiat.”
 
 
Edited by Chiara Francesco

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maximillion

Thank you for posting this and Praise God for this community.

I am praying for many vocations of all ages for them....if I were in the USA I would be very very tempted!

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FutureSister2009

I think it's great that they don't care about ages. I find it necessary, especially for widows who kids are grown up and they're lonely. Maybe it was God's intention after all. Reminds me of St. Jane DeChantal

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Chiara Francesco

So many older women became nuns who were widows or not.  As you said St. Jane de Chantal and many of her nuns over the years and Sr. Ortolana  who was St. Clare of Assisi's mother who entered her daughter's order also up to this day.

 

And many Carmelites and a few blesseds where older women and some widowed.  I have met a Carmelite sub-prioress of a strict, traditional 1990 Carmel who entered in her late 40s-early 50s and was a widow and had grown children and grand-children and, like many other older ones, was/is able to live the strict, hard life of a cloistered nun and who was NOT set in her ways and can't learn or be taught new ways - as many orders like to say!  Who knows more about sacrifice, total self-giving, hard work, wanting to please and do all for others than an older (or younger!) woman who was married/widowed, etc with kids!  Thank God there are many orders who DO recognize this and some well established like Carmel, PCCs, etc. but not enough by any means.

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Alberto Guimaraes

Peace and Good!

Lovely to exist a clarenian community for older ladies!

Pray for them!

Br. Alberto Guimaraes SFO

Braga - Portugal

 

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Eowyn

Peace and Good!

Lovely to exist a clarenian community for older ladies!

Pray for them!

Br. Alberto Guimaraes SFO

Braga - Portugal

Welcome to Phatmass!!!

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the171

I think it's great that they don't care about ages. I find it necessary, especially for widows who kids are grown up and they're lonely. Maybe it was God's intention after all. Reminds me of St. Jane DeChantal

 

I really don't agree with this. Not all widowed women are called to religious life. That is being way too presumptuous.

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Pax_et bonum

I don't think she was saying that all widows are called to religious life, just that it's great that there are communities that will give them a chance because some may be called. CF has already given examples of widows who had/have religious vocations. Maybe God knew they needed to have the experience of marriage before they would be ready for religious life or they ignored the call when they were younger, but whatever the case, God does call people of all ages which needs to be recognized. I think we all agree, as well as the foundress of this community, that not all widows/older women have religious vocations. The website says: "We are NOT a nursing home or retirement center" so it's not just a place to go when your kids are grown and your husband dead. There are a couple of things that stick out to me as odd, but I hope this will open the door to religious life for women who may have religious vocations that are too old for most other communities.

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Eowyn

I really don't agree with this. Not all widowed women are called to religious life. That is being way too presumptuous.

 

 

That is true, not all are called.  Not all young people are called either. But, sometimes it seems like there are more options for those younger people who are called than for those who are older. 

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OnlySunshine

The woman who set up the Companions of Clare has emailed me twice to include them on my website for belated vocations even though I have asked that no one email me asking to include emerging communities that are not yet established.  I think it's a good idea that one is started, but I have reservations about brand new communities which is why I do not list them.  It's not prejudice on my part, but I want to only list those who have been around for a while and are stable.  I have emailed this to the foundress but I don't think she read my email.  Hopefully, she will see it here.  Prayers!

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the171

That is true, not all are called. Not all young people are called either. But, sometimes it seems like there are more options for those younger people who are called than for those who are older.


I am happy that this community is formed. I didn't agree with FS's statement was all.

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homeschoolmom

The woman who set up the Companions of Clare has emailed me twice to include them on my website for belated vocations even though I have asked that no one email me asking to include emerging communities that are not yet established.  I think it's a good idea that one is started, but I have reservations about brand new communities which is why I do not list them.  It's not prejudice on my part, but I want to only list those who have been around for a while and are stable.  I have emailed this to the foundress but I don't think she read my email.  Hopefully, she will see it here.  Prayers!

 

 

Yes, please remember this instruction from dUSt, our webmaster:

From this point forward, phatmass shall only be used to promote vocations that have official diocesan approval.

Any post that links to a website, community, or vocation that is not recognized by the Church shall result in a warning. Multiple warning shall result in a ban from phatmass.

Thanks.
-dUSt                                         

 

 

Does this new order have diocesan approval?

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begin_again

Yes, please remember this instruction from dUSt, our webmaster:

 

 

Does this new order have diocesan approval?

Yes, this forming community has been officially accepted by the Bishop of the Diocese of Portland.  I am always surprised by things I read whether I agree and think, finally someone is thinking like I have been for years or oh, dear, this is not a completely thought out statement.  The person needs to pray about her/his statement and the topic and perhaps write an amendment. 

 

No, not all older women have a religious vocation, and I doubt that if one entered seeking a "retirement home" they would quickly see that the religious life was not the answer.  Many older women do have religious vocation and have not had an opportunity to pursue it because of the cut off age in the US.  It is not so much in orders "across the pond!" Religious superiors in the US are of the opinion that older women find obedience difficult because they have either lived alone or are too set in their ways to accept obedience from perhaps someone younger than they.  I would like to remind those who are in agreement with the too old way of thinking two things.  First, God calls in His time and at any age. Who are we to even dare to tell God when to call one to a religious vocation.  (Older men have been accepted into the priesthood for years)

 

 A few examples can be seen from the lives of the saints, St. Jane Frances de Chantal, Mother Elizabeth Ann Seton, St.Clare's own mother joined her at an advanced age, and although Mother Teresa was in a religious order, she was older when she was called to serve the poor and ventured out on her own to establish the Missioinaries of Charity (no small task or calling).  St. Teresa Avila was older by some 20 years after she entered when she felt called to reform the existing Carmelites into the Discalced Carmelites, a reform which met with much opposition and imprisonment of St. John of the Cross who was helping Teresa with the reform.  St.Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein) was 42 and had an established career as a university professor of brilliant reputation when she left all to join Carmel.  So before you dismiss the idea of older women with a religious vocation, please examine your reasons and pray to ask God to let you be a bit more open minded to a later call to serve Him completely as an olderwoman must have assuredly served her husband, children, boss with completely dedication. Do you think she would do less than bring that same love and dedication to religious life in answer to God's call to give herself totally to Him in these later years of wisdom.

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begin_again

The woman who set up the Companions of Clare has emailed me twice to include them on my website for belated vocations even though I have asked that no one email me asking to include emerging communities that are not yet established.  I think it's a good idea that one is started, but I have reservations about brand new communities which is why I do not list them.  It's not prejudice on my part, but I want to only list those who have been around for a while and are stable.  I have emailed this to the foundress but I don't think she read my email.  Hopefully, she will see it here.  Prayers!

May I ask what exactly are your reservations about brand new communities?  Every single community of either men or women at any age and at any time in history with various charisms had to start somewhere.  I have read your comment several times and each time I read it, I have the distinct feeling that there is a prejudice on your part that you may not even realize that you have.  If acceptance by the local bishop is given, the foundress has undoubtedly been in touch with him for some time and had to answer many questions about her intentions, not to mention the funding, location, housing, type of work for self-sustaining the group, the rule, the constitutions, the mission, all of these things have to be worked out with the bishop before there is approval.  She has received formal approval from the bishop of the Diocese of Porland, Maine and is also being aided in spiritual and material ways by a group of male monastics in thearea with offering Mass, sacraments, classes in spirituality, etc.  If you are serious about contacting her, she is quite easy to find on the internet.  Her email, I think, has changed from the earlier one.  Prayers for you.

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