Bloomington Poor Clares moving to Rochester after 63 years in archdiocese

| December 1, 2017 | 0 Comments

The Franciscan Poor Clares plan to move in February from their Bloomington monastery, above, turning the residence over to Pro Ecclesia Sancta Sisters currently living in St. Paul. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

With an aging community, the Franciscan Poor Clares will move from their Bloomington monastery in February after 63 years in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

“We were very reluctant about it. However, in 2020, we will only have one sister under 80,” said the community’s abbess Sister Frances Getchell. “We can’t continue to keep up this monastery because of health.”

All nine sisters will live at Assisi Heights, the motherhouse for the Sisters of St. Francis in Rochester. The Franciscans had part of Assisi Heights’ retreat house renovated to accommodate the Poor Clares. Two additional Poor Clares will move from Catholic Eldercare in the Twin Cities to Assisi Heights, which has a retirement center and healthcare center.

The Poor Clares came to the archdiocese from Sauk Rapids in 1954 at the invitation of Archbishop John Murray, who blessed their monastery. For Sister Helen Weier, one of the six original sisters, the monastery has been home since. “It was an asparagus patch before it became our monastery,” she said.

An order exclusively dedicated to prayer as cloistered sisters, the Poor Clares will continue receiving letters and phone calls for prayer requests at their new location. At Assisi Heights, the Poor Clares will maintain their own community life but join the Franciscan sisters for Mass.

Like the Rochester Franciscans, the Poor Clares trace their founding St. Francis of Assisi, who founded their order in 1212 with St. Clare.

“Our sisters are very excited to have a deeper connection with the contemplative branch of the Franciscan order,” said Franciscan Sister Marlene Pinzka, treasurer of the Rochester congregation.

The two orders have crossed paths before at the College of St. Teresa in Winona in the 1970s. The Poor Clares studied at the Franciscan-run college, which closed in 1989.

With the Poor Clare Sisters leaving St. Clare Monastery, the Pro Ecclesia Sancta sisters in St. Paul will move into the monastery during the summer. Pro Ecclesia Sancta sisters will continue their assignments at St. Mark in St. Paul and Our Lady of Grace and Chesterton Academy in Edina. The local community has five sisters and a postulant.

“We want it to remain a house of prayer, service and loving devotion to the heart of Jesus,” said Pro Ecclesia Sancta Sister Emy Ychikawa. “We feel unworthy to carry on the Poor Clares’ legacy, but trusting in divine providence, we want to respond faithfully to God’s plans.”

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