Tag Archives: Poor Clares

Poor Clares of Lerma Form New Religious Order

About a month ago, I stumbled across this video of Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M. Cap. (Preacher to the Papal Household and author of the fantastic book Virginity: A Positive Approach to Celibacy for the Sake of the Kingdom) visiting a vibrant group of young Poor Clares at a convent in Spain. Because the clearest versions of this video are the originals in Italian and Spanish, the one I’ve posted below is not subtitled. (If you really want English subtitles, you can go here – but I have a feeling you’ll agree they aren’t really necessary!)

Beautiful, right? Since that video was posted in 2009, when there were already a whopping 140 sisters in the convent at Lerma, the number of sisters in this community has climbed to almost 200! And that’s not all. Last Saturday, the “Clarisas” of Lerma officially became a new religious order.

Nearly 200 young nuns processed from their cloister to the cathedral of Burgos on Saturday [February 12, 2011] for the official establishment of their new institute of consecrated life.

Sister Verónica María Berzosa Martínez, formerly the abbess of the group, is now also their founder.

Sister Berzosa, 46, joined the Poor Clares when she was 18. She felt called along with the sisters of her community to establish this new charism, which has now been recognized by the Church as an institute of consecrated life.

Read the entire article on Zenit.org.

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A Poor Clare’s Solemn Profession

Since the video in my last post has been removed from YouTube (and I swear it was there just two days ago!), I found another, equally awesome glimpse of cloistered life to share with all of you.

Beautiful, isn’t it? I love how it’s executed with such simplicity. St. Clare would probably be pleased!

(HT: The Anchoress)

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Is the “vocations crisis” over?

Finally, some good news!

For as long as my friends and I can remember, Catholics have used the term “vocations crisis” to refer to the shortage of priests and religious that has plagued the Church for the past several decades. I have often wondered whether awareness of this “crisis” was a recent phenomenon, so I did a bit of research…

It seems that the term “vocations crisis” was being used as early as 1969, right around the time the “crisis” began. I’m not sure how often it was used in the years that followed, but if my Vatican archives keyword search is any indication, it looks like the use of this term exploded around the year 2000. My own experience tells me that for the past ten years or so, it has become somewhat of a buzzword among Catholics.

I got used to talking about the “vocations crisis,” too, until one day my spiritual director told me something that rocked my world: There has never been a crisis of vocations, because God has never stopped calling. What we have mistakenly termed a “vocations crisis” is, and has always been, a crisis of response.

It makes sense, doesn’t it? God would never abandon the Church, His Beloved Bride. He has always called, and continues to call, sufficient laborers for His vineyard. Sadly, many of those He was calling in decades past could not (or would not) hear His voice.

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, with each decade that’s passed since the “sexual revolution” of the sixties, our culture has become increasingly hostile to the pursuit of a celibate vocation — and I am not speaking only of the secular culture! Even among Catholics, I have seen an astonishing lack of support from “good Catholic parents” who seem to think their child must be CRAZY to consider living a celibate life… And it seems that this hostility, both inside and outside of the home, has made many young people afraid to even consider a vocation. The result? A crisis of response that has lasted some 30-40 years.

So, what’s the good news?

Young people are answering the call, and LOTS of them!

Last March, I saw this post on Vocation Boom: “Vocations are on the rise, and here are the stats to prove it.” Then I came across an article about the recent CARA Study on vocations to the religious life in the United States, and this one from the National Catholic Register.

But the proof isn’t only in faceless statistics. Last year, I said goodbye to about a dozen friends who were leaving to begin their first year of formation for priesthood or religious life. That’s when numbers like these really began hitting home for me:

Franciscan Friars of the Renewal after their final profession, 2010

Franciscan Friars of the Renewal after their final profession, 2010 (from the CFRs' Picasa album)

  • Franciscan Friars of the Renewal: 9 new postulants in 2009, 7 more in 2010, 6 brothers (above) took final vows last fall. Congratulations, Br. Dismas!
  • Sisters of Life: 8 new postulants last year, ranging in age from 22-25!
  • One young woman from our diocese entered the Missionaries of Charity Sisters in January 2010.
  • Two more entered the local Carmel in October.
  • Another joined Mother Angelica’s Poor Clares (the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration) in Hanceville, AL.
  • The major seminary in my home state welcomed 35 new seminarians last fall — a number they had every right to be happy about!

On a side note, I recently discovered that 5 of the 26 seminarians from my diocese went to the local public high school I attended… which wouldn’t be a big deal, if it weren’t for the fact that we were all there at the same time. This means that my alma mater produced 5 seminarians in 5 years! Plus a Jesuit novice. And (God willing!) a consecrated virgin. Not bad at all for a public high school!

Perhaps those numbers don’t impress you. Perhaps my friends and I are the exception… but I would venture to say that this is probably not the case. Seminaries across the country are welcoming young men in droves, and more than a few religious orders are growing at an almost alarming rate.

Is the “vocations crisis” over? I think things are definitely looking up, and I can say that with confidence and joy. My friends and I are the living proof!

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