Poor Clares are a praying heart in the diocese

First slide
First slide
First slide
First slide
First slide
First slide
Previous Next

When the sisters of the Order of St. Clare first broke ground to build their new monastery, they were one of Alexandria's noisiest neighbors. Cranes and hammers from the new site could be heard miles away until its completion in February 1979. But when the dust finally settled and the sisters entered their new home, a peaceful silence replaced the sound of diesel earth movers.

The only noise that escapes now is the occasional ringing of bells and the quiet pitter-pattering of the sisters' bare feet. While these sisters might be some of the most hidden religious in the diocese, they have an important mission given to them personally by Arlington Bishop Thomas J. Welsh 39 years ago.

"The bishop wanted us to pray for vocations," said Mother Mariam, one of the original founding sisters who traveled from Roswell, N.M., to Alexandria to start the new community. According to Mother Mariam, Bishop Welsh had a contemplative praying for him through his time in the seminary. With the establishment of the new community, he hoped the prayers of the Poor Clares would help bring a steady stream of vocations to the new diocese.

Because the sisters practice St. Francis' ideal of poverty, they depend entirely on others for their simplest needs. All their food is provided by donations left on their doorstep. The building of their public chapel was completely funded by the church community. The land for their monastery was purchased from St. Louis Church in Alexandria and is less than a mile from the parish, tucked away in a nearby neighborhood.

"At St. Louis Parish, we are blessed to have them so close," said Father Matthew H. Zuberbueler, pastor. "They are a huge blessing and a tremendous joy." Father Zuberbueler and his fellow priests help the sisters by celebrating daily 7 a.m. Mass.

"We feel very loved and wanted," said Mother Mariam, "We are a hidden presence fulfilling our mission to be a praying heart in the diocese."

Buyers can be reached at abuyers@catholicherald.com.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015