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Poor Clare Mother Miriam Love, abbess, celebrates half a century of cloistered life

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With a standing room-only crowd on one side of the chapel and the Poor Clare sisters on the other, Bishop Michael F. Burbidge celebrated Mass for the golden jubilee of Poor Clare Mother Miriam Love, abbess, at the Poor Clare Monastery of Mary, Mother of the Church in Alexandria Oct. 7. Mother Miriam renewed her vows. Bishop Burbidge was joined by eight concelebrants.

In his homily, Bishop Burbidge said, “Mother Miriam, you are surrounded today by the love and prayers of the friends of this monastery and of my brother priests, and I know I speak on behalf of all my brother priests in thanking you and all the sisters for the daily prayers you offer for us,” he said. “I give thanks to God for your 50 years of Poor Clare life and the great witness that you have offered and continue to offer to us, and we pray for you at this holy Mass.”

Judy White, a parishioner of Good Shepherd Church in Alexandria, attended the jubilee. “The Poor Clares have been close to me,” she said. “They are our neighbors and such a blessing to us.”

Mary Anderson, a parishioner of St. Bernadette Church in Springfield, witnessed a Poor Clare sister take her habit 50 years ago in Roswell, N.M.“I’ve been in touch with them ever since,” she said. Anderson sends them cards, donations and asks for prayers for family members.

Merle and Bob Albers came to the jubilee from Louisiana, representing Merle’s deceased biological sister, Poor Clare Sister Margaret Mary.

“It was for me to come in gratitude for 50 years of help and prayers from the sisters,” said Merle.

Mother Miriam said she was first attracted to the Franciscan way of seeking union with God in seventh grade when she read “A Right to Be Merry” by Mother Mary Francis and the life of St. Therese of Lisieux.

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“This fascination was reinforced when I read some of the works of the Trappist monk Thomas Merton when I was in high school,” she said. “After I entered the Roswell monastery of Poor Clares in 1966, the strong teaching of the church on the value of the contemplative life deeply affected me and reinforced the desires that were already present in my heart.”

Mother Miriam was in a Poor Clare convent in Roswell in 1977 when founding Arlington Bishop Thomas J. Welsh invited her to come to the diocese.

“The founding of our Poor Clare community of Mary, Mother of the Church and the building of the monastery have been an adventure of faith, of trust, and the experience of God’s goodness and the generosity of the priests and people of our diocese,” she said.  

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019