The “Star Light” of Clare Shines in Vancouver
It was from New Orleans that sisters founded a monastery in Victoria, BC, in 1911. (This monastery was moved to Duncan in 1973.)
On September 7th, 1950, our sisters left their monastery, traveling under a canopy of stars, as St Clare had done; but they missed the midnight boat they had planned to catch. Fr Julian Burt, SPM, met Sisters Mary Agnes MacDonald, Mary Barbara Collins, Mary Pascal Sinclair and Mary Angela Sherrer and drove them to their monastery. Their welcoming committee consisted of bantams and Bernie Livingston’s horse in the back field.
On September 8th, the feast of the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Archbishop William Duke celebrated the first Eucharist. As the archbishop, accompanied by the priests, went through the house afterwards to bless it, they were amazed at how empty it was. As our sisters knelt for the archbishop’s blessing in the kitchen when he was leaving, he commented, “The Lord will provide,” and indeed He has abundantly provided for those who trust in Him.
We soon realized that this was not the place to build our monastery, as we were hemmed in by houses. For twelve years we searched for a suitable place. On September 12th, 1958, we moved to a larger place on Burris Street in St. Francis de Sales Parish, where we hoped we could build a monastery, but it too proved unsuitable.
It was suggested that we ask Rev. Father Abbot Eugene Medved, OSB, of the Benedictine Abbey and Seminary of Christ the King in Mission if his community could provide for our spiritual needs. He agreed that one of the monks could supply our daily Mass and a few conferences if we were a mile from the abbey. We are most grateful for their faithful, generous services through the years. We found a property, sandwiched between the cemetery on the north and Hatzic Elementary School on the south, a constant reminder of life and death.
March 24 th, 1962, was another memorable moving day, this time to Mission, our permanent home as last. Jeno Kozma, the builder, with his wife, two daughters and a son, drove Mother Mary Agnes and Sr Mary Barbara to Mission for the consecration of the altars and the blessing of the monastery by Fr Abbot Eugene, with several monks and seminarians
Our first Mass was celebrated by Fr Anselm, OSB, at 4:00 pm. Thus began our life in Mission. Someone called from St Mary’s Residential School inquiring about our needs; they were surprised when we asked for a load of barnyard “special,” for we knew our garden would welcome it. It was great fun and hard work in those early days as we created our own landscape.
And so our family life in Mission continued, guided by the Lord, Who was ever at our side, sharing our joys and providing starlight in the darkness of painful moments. Looking over the years, we see growth through the sisters who entered and loss when sisters left. Especially memorable to us were the deaths of Sr Mary Angela on October 10′ 1982, and Mother Mary Agnes on April 14, 1983; these two foundresses were ready when the Bridegroom came. Sr Mary Angela was holding a wedding bouquet given us by a grateful young bride, and Mother Mary Agnes told us as a parting message that she was ‘in the tranquility of God. ‘ Some years later (September 10′ 2005) we lost our third foundress, Sister Mary Barbara Collins; she renewed her vows of 70 years two days before her death-she had been a Poor Clare for 72 years. On January 30, 2011, Sister Mary Clare McDonald made her way to God also; she was always pointed out as the first postulant to persevere on our foundation; she was truly St Clare in our midst.
As our community grew, through the help of benefactors we were able to put on an addition to our monastery in 1976-77. In 1983 we were able to renovate our chapel and in 1992 to add an extern which we named Mary’s House. In 2005 we completed an addition to our chapel, making it into a church that holds 100 guests in the extern.
“Shine on the world like bright stars” (Phil 2:15)
So life goes on in the third millennium. As sisters in a community, we celebrate the Lord in our midst and we thank God for the goodness of all our friends, relatives and benefactors. We turn to St Clare, faithful follower of the Lord Jesus and faithful footprint of the Mother of Jesus, and sing:
Like a candle burning in the night,
St Clare, we turn to you for light.
Lead us on the path you trod,
The Gospel way of the Son of God.
All praise be to Christ,
All thanks be to Christ,
My God and my All. (Hymn)
To learn more about our monastery, visit our website at poorclare.org/mission.
St. Clare’s Monastery
PO Box 3370
Mission BC V2V 4J5 Canada