Celebrating Our Life Together
Who is there, then, who would not encourage me to rejoice over such marvelous joys? Therefore, dearly beloved, may you too always rejoice in the Lord.
- 3rd Letter of Clare to Agnes of Prague
In every life there are milestones, and in the life of a community we celebrate these milestones as well. For a Poor Clare, one such milestone is her solemn profession. After at least six years of formation, living and learning about the life of a Poor Clare, a sister will celebrate her solemn profession, or final vows, as a Poor Clare. Gathered in the chapel for Mass with family, friends, and guests, the community shows their support for their sister. The photo shows the solemn profession of Sr. Julie, with Bishop Fernand Cheri, OFM, as the celebrant of the Mass.
Each Poor Clare monastery is autonomous, or self-enclosed. When a sister takes her solemn vows, she promises to remain in this particular monastery for the rest of her life. Some of the sisters have been here for over 60 years. When a sister reaches a milestone anniversary, or jubilee, it is the occasion for a great celebration. A Mass and reception with family and friends helps to celebrate the life and commitment of the sister. The photo shows the Golden Jubilee of Sr. Rita, who celebrated 50 years as a religious.
Since we are Catholic nuns, the celebrations of the Church year take precedence in our lives. Christmas, Holy Week, and Easter, of course, are celebrated with great solemnity. Our monastery was founded on the feast of Corpus Christi in 1885, so the feast of Corpus Christi, the Holy Body and Blood of Christ, is very special to us. We sometimes celebrate with processions and Eucharistic devotions after Sunday Mass. The photo shows a recent procession on Corpus Christi Sunday. Because of inclement weather, we held the procession on the front porch of the monastery.
On some occasions, such as the feast of St. Clare, professions, and jubilees, we invite our friends and guests to continue the celebration with us after Mass is completed. When weather permits, we may have a reception in our garden. Outsiders are thrilled to get a glimpse of life "behind the wall" of the monastery. If it is rainy, such as occurs often in the summer in New Orleans, the reception may be held in the monastery itself, in the library or outside the refectory. Our Franciscan friars often join us for a family meal after the reception.
Like any family, birthdays and other occasions are celebrated to honor one another. On Mothers' Day, we honor our abbess, who is a mother to us, just as St. Clare was a mother to her sisters. Every Sunday is a special day, for it is the Lord's Day, and we celebrate with a special meal. Also feast days of Jesus and the saints are days to celebrate. After all, we are in New Orleans - we always celebrate with special food!
And speaking of New Orleans, what can be more New Orleans than Mardi Gras? Most of the Mardi Gras parades and celebrations are family-oriented. One of the neighborhood parades, the Krewe of Thoth, passes right in front of the monastery on the Sunday before Mardi Gras. The Krewe has adopted our monastery as one of their charities. Each year, members of the Krewe march in the neighborhood two weeks before Mardi Gras and pay us a visit. The photo shows Thoth members in our chapel as a jazz band plays "When the Saints Go Marching In." Then the sisters sing the Blessing of St. Clare to pray for safety on the day of the parade.