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We are a community of 23 sisters who live a Franciscan contemplative life according to the Rule of Saint Clare of Assisi. Our monastery is in a residential suburban area of Jamaica Plain, just outside the city of Boston. How can we possibly express all that goes into a Poor Clare's life? We can only try to begin.
From our first awakening moment we turn our heart to our Creator who has given us a new day. Some of us like those quiet, early hours of the morning before the sacristan rings the bell calling us to prayer, so, the coffee is ready very early, even before 4:00 a.m. Actually, breakfast can be just about anytime until 8:00 a.m.
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At 5:20 a.m. the gathered community begins the day focused on Jesus in His Eucharistic Presence. We pray the psalms and scripture reading for Morning-Praise of the Liturgy of the Hours. Private prayer time continues through the celebration of the Eucharistic Liturgy at 7:00 a.m. with an inspiring homily every morning, and continues until 8:00 when we pray one of the shorter Liturgical Hours of the day. Eucharistic adoration will continue throughout the day with each sister taking a half hour.
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The rest of the morning is allotted for the work we do to keep up our beautiful monastery and earn our living like everyone else of the working class. We are careful to maintain a quiet atmosphere while we work although we don't have anything like a "vow of silence" people often ask us about.
It might surprise you to know how many skills are needed to maintain ourselves. Each department is fairly large and demands the ordinary managerial tasks like ordering supplies and organizing work to accommodate the steady demand for liturgical vestments. Computerized Manifest Systems are used in the shipment of hundreds of steady orders of altar breads. Our Poor Clare RN's, majoring in geriatrics, run our infirmary and are kept busy with around the clock care if need arises. We take turns cooking; we each seem to have a speciality or two we enjoy making.
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Our phone lines are very busy all day long so a receptionist has to be available continually. People call to ask for our prayers or to have a prayer remembrance card sent out to family and friends for various occasions. The sister receptionist needs to learn a bit about computer graphics because she will be called upon to turn out many computer-generated calligraphic cards each day.
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We have two ceramists who enjoy turning out pretty gifts for our annual bazaar. And then there are weekly community meetings and music practice. We can't have enough musicians to accompany us on the organ. Our sacristan keeps our adoration altar and everything in our choir and public chapels beautiful. Maintenance for a large place like this is endless, so we become handy at doing many things.
At 11:30 we pause to gather in our choir again for prayer. At noontime we have our main meal with recreation. Then we all do the dishes together in about 10 minutes and are usually free for a while.

The afternoons provide spaces for study, reading, or the development of personal interests. Or maybe just to find a quiet spot under a tree. We have our resident scholars who like writing, research, and study of any and every topic, and have published works.

Formation is ongoing so we usually have a class in Scripture, theology or spirituality, or some topic of interest, by a professional person during the month. Those who are new to our life are given special classes by the Vocation Directress.

Our artists love to paint or study art history. One sister joins her three hobbies of art, photography and gardening to make beautiful flower cards. Another does silk screened cards. Others prefer various needlework or hand crafts. We have lovely flower gardens and a vegetable garden for those who love to work with the earth. Feast days and other holidays provide longer breaks for these pursuits.

The annals of the Monastery are kept by a sister who records events of note in our chronicles. Our community archivist also keeps the archives for documents of the Poor Clare Federation of the Most Holy Name of Jesus.

See what the Eucharist and five hours spent in prayer each day can do for you?
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As evening draws near we return again to our choir for rosary and Evening Prayer followed by quiet time for prayer, and the office of Readings to prepare for the liturgy for the next day. At 6:00 p.m. we take a light supper quietly while we listen to lectures from audiotapes. Night Prayer and a final Hymn to Mary and we are usually free for the evening except on Fridays when we have Eucharistic adoration for another hour, and other days when we have exposition all night.
Now, that's what you would call the bare bones of a day in the life of any one of us. It's not possible to convey the dimensions of all that makes up our days, but this gives you an idea of how we spend some of our time. But even all we do ourselves isn't enough to make our life possible without the help of generous support from many sources. We pray for them all every day asking God to bless them for all they do for us.
Franciscan Monastery of Saint Clare, 920 Centre Street, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130
+1 617 524-1760 or 7866
+1 617 983 5205

If you would like to know more about us and our way of life, please contact Sr. Mary Francis, Vocation Directress, by mail, fax, phone or e-mail: