Poor Clare Federation of
Mary Immaculate in the
United States of America
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History of our Federation

Our Poor Clare history began on March 18, 1212, when our Mother St. Clare courageously left her parental home to follow the radical Gospel way of life preached by St. Francis of Assisi. From her first little monastery of San Damiano in Assisi, many new shoots quickly sprang up throughout Italy and Europe, and today the vigorous, thriving vine of Poor Clare life extends to nearly every corner of the world.

1950 - Federations became a new chapter in our Poor Clare history when Pope Pius XII issued his Apostolic Constitution, Sponsa Christi, which first proposed the federation of autonomous monasteries.

June 8, 1959 - Pope John XXIII granted the petition of the Poor Clare Nuns of St. Colette in the United States of America to form a federation among themselves. The Sacred Congregation for Religious furthermore approved the Federation Statutes ad experimentum, for a period of seven years. The decree was signed on July 6, 1959.

The first federal chapter of our federation, 1958

The charter member monasteries of the Federation of Mary Immaculate in the United States are as follows:

Blessed Sacrament Monastery, Cleveland, Ohio
(founded from Düsseldorf, Germany, 1877)

Monastery of the Immaculate Conception, Chicago, Illinois
(founded from Cleveland, 1893)

Our Cleveland monastery today in its winter splendor

Chapel of Perpetual Adoration

Maria Regina Mater Monastery, Kokomo, Indiana
(founded from Chicago, 1959)

An image of the Blessed Virgin Mary
stands beneath the cross on the grounds
of our Kokomo monastery

St. Joseph's Monastery, Aptos, California
(founded from Cleveland, 1921)

Adoration altar of the Blessed Sacrament, c.1950

Monastery of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Roswell, New Mexico
(founded from Chicago, 1948)

A view of the chapel of our Roswell monastery

Bethlehem Monastery, Newport News, Virginia
(founded from Cleveland, 1956)
The Newport News community relocated to Barhamsville, Virginia in 2004.

The chapel of the new monastery in Barhamsville

A sister kneels in adoration before the
Blessed Sacrament in our St. Louis

September, 1960 - Mother Mary Francis of Cleveland, who had been elected the first federal abbess, began her first visitations of the monasteries of the federation. Mother Francis later had this to say about the communities she visited: "I found the respect and fidelity with which our communities are preserving the spirit of our holy Order and its traditions most impressive and gratifying."

1967 - The request of the Los Altos Hills community to become a member monastery was approved.

The sign of God's everlasting covenant of love
appears above our Los Altos Hills monastery

Christmas in our Santa Barbara monastery

1972 - We welcomed the Santa Barbara monastery into our federation.

1977 - The Monastery of Mary, Mother of the Church, Alexandria, Virginia (founded from Roswell), became a member monastery of our federation.

1981 - From the beginning of the federation, the need for the revision of our Constitutions had been evident to our communities. On March 5, 1981, Archbishop Augustine Mayer, O.S.B., Secretary of the Sacred Congregation for Religious, signed the decree approving the new and definitive text of our Constitutions, which had been written by Mother Mary Francis, abbess of the Roswell monastery, who had been chosen by common consent of the federated monasteries at the chapter of 1970 to undertake the monumental task. The revised Constitutions had been painstakingly discussed and edited over the course of several federation chapters, with capitulars from each member monastery carefully reviewing each article of the proposed text. These Constitutions are still in use today throughout our federation, having also been adopted by many foreign monasteries who have petitioned the Holy See and were granted the permission to do so.

1985 - Mother Mary Francis, abbess of the Roswell monastery, completed her translation of the Rule of our Holy Mother Clare and the Testament of our Holy Mother Colette. These were gratefully received by all the sisters of our federation, which numbered 190 members at that time. Most Rev. Augustine Mayer, O.S.B., was made a Cardinal by Pope John Paul II in May of that same year, and appointed Cardinal Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Sacraments. Cardinal Mayer examined very carefully the newly translated Rule of Saint Clare and the Testament of Saint Colette, and commented that it was his desire that the newly translated texts along with our Constitutions "will be a source of spiritual encouragement and ever deeper commitment for an always greater number of monasteries of Poor Clares." Copies of the new translations were shared with the two other federations of Poor Clares in our country and with communities abroad as well.

The Roswell monastery

Our Belleville monastery brings the beauty of our
Poor Clare life to the Beautiful City

1986 - The Monastery of Our Lady of Mercy, Belleville, Illinois (founded from Roswell), became a member monastery of our federation.

1987 - We welcomed the St. Louis monastery into our federation.

1989 - We welcomed the Sauk Rapids monastery into our federation.

1990 - The Monastery of Maria, Moeder van de Kerk, was founded in Elshout, The Netherlands, by the Roswell monastery. In 1993, the Elshout monastery relocated to Eindhoven, The Netherlands, and became a member monastery of our federation in 2009. Due to lack of vocations, the monastery closed in 2015 and the community returned to the United States.

A statue of St. Francis watches over
the beautiful grounds of our
Sauk Rapids monastery

2000 - The Monastery of the Immaculate Conception, Chicago, Illinois (founded from Roswell), became a member monastery of our federation.

Today, the Poor Clare Federation of Mary Immaculate in the United States of America continues to grow and flourish. Our desire is that the genuine spirit of St. Clare and St. Colette be both preserved and promoted in each of our monasteries, and our bond of federation has always been and will continue to be a valuable help in that direction.

A view of the chapel of our Chicago monastery

The abbesses and delegates of our federated monasteries gathered in chapter
with Father Robert McCreary, O.F.M. Cap., religious assistant of the federation