The Sisters of St. Clare are contemplative women who live in community and are engaged in a variety of ministries using their gifts and talents in the service of God’s people. Ours is a rich heritage that has endured for more than 800 years and the Sisters of St. Clare can trace their history from the present day back to the earliest days of St. Clare of Assisi (see History page).
In her second letter to Blessed Agnes of Prague St. Clare counsels her spiritual daughters – “…remember your resolution and be conscious of how you began…”
What you hold may you always hold
What you do, may you always do and never abandon
But with swift pace, light step and unswerving feet
so that even your steps stir up no dust
go forward securely, joyfully and swiftly..”
The early Poor Clares in Ireland could have taken these words as their charter. They were marched barefoot to Dublin Castle to appear before the Lord Chief Justice, they were compelled to flee before the Confederate troops and were exiled in the force of Cromwellian persecution. Yet they never forgot their “resolution” but went forward “securely, joyfully and swiftly”.
The nineteenth and twentieth centuries have presented a different kind of challenge to the Sisters of St. Clare, a challenge that is not less real because less dramatic. In 1804 the Sisters who were living in Dorset Street in Dublin were asked to undertake an active apostolate, the care of poor children and orphans. Although this meant a departure from the original life which was essentially contemplative it did not mean the abandonment of the contempative spirit. The success of the undertaking in Harold’s Cross showed that the spirit of St. Clare could meet the needs of the Church in every age and in every circumstance. The spiritual daughters of those nuns who survived the Cromwellian Wars were able to accept a new challenge in 1830 when they were asked by the Bishop of Dromore to make a foundation in Newry, the first nuns to settle north of the Boyne since 1690.
Since then the Sisters of St. Clare in their varied ministries have continued to serve the Lord with the dedication of their heroic predecessors. Our prayer today is that inspired by the Holy Spirit we will always remember “our resolution” and continually give thanks for all that has been and saying yes to all that will be.