The Holy Name Federation unites Poor Clare monasteries along the east coast. Its official title is the Most Holy Name of Jesus Federation of Poor Clare Monasteries in the Eastern Region of the United States. Established in 1959 it presently includes 10 monasteries located in Andover, MA; Jamaica Plain, MA; Langhorne, PA; Chesterfield, NJ; Wappinger Falls, NY; Travelers Rest, SC; Delray Beach. FL, Great Falls, Montana and Fort Meyers Beach, FL as well as a foundation in Bolivia.
Its origins date back to the late 1950’s when the friars began quietly explaining to the Sisters the benefits of federation. The Sisters were not so sure, fearing anything that might endanger their autonomy. But when it became evident that federation was the will of the Holy See, obedience overcame reluctance.
The first Federation meeting took place in Jamaica Plain, MA on April 19-21, 1960. Mother Virgilius was chosen the first Federal Abbess assisted by three councilors. Statutes for the federation received approval June 13, 1963. They were revised in 1975 and the present set received approval in 1987.
These statutes state that the purposes of the federation are to: deepen union with one another, share needs and ways to satisfy them, foster contemplative life, communicate directly with the Holy See and share resources and personnel.
In a structure comparable to that of individual monasteries, the federation is governed by a federation assembly, a federal president, assisted by four councilors. A Religious Assistant is also appointed by the Holy See to assist and advise the federation and also consult with the Holy See in important matters.
The first Federation Council meeting, attended by the Abbess and a delegate from each member monastery took place in Greenville, SC in May 1965. Revision of the Poor Clare Constitutions was the main work of this meeting.
Father Michael Harding, OFM
Father Roch Knopke, OFM
Father Eric Kyle, OFM
Father Juvenal Lawlor, OFM
Father Giles Bello, OFM
Father Dan Lanahan, OFM
Father Tom Hartle, OFM
Foundations Made From Holy Name Federation
Kiry-shi,Guma-Ken, Japan was founded in 1961 from Jamaica Plain, Boston. Corrico Nor Yngas, Bolivia was founded in June 1962 from Bordentown, NJ. Anapolis, Goias, Brazil was founded in 1963 by the New York Monastery. In 1987 the last American Sisters left and this is now an independent monastery. Stamford, CT was the first to be founded by the federation and not be an individual monastery. Five Sisters from five different communities began the foundation in 1985. This monastery was closed 2003. Fort Meyers Beach, FL was founded from Delray Beach in 1988. Great Falls, MT began as a federation foundation in 1999 with four Sisters coming from four houses within the federation.
Assemblies, Workshops and Projects
The first official assembly of the federation was held in Jamaica Plain, April 30 to May 3, 1966. Mother M. Michael from the New York monastery was elected President along with four councilors. Work on the revision of the Constitutions was the focus of this and subsequent meetings. This work was aided by a questionnaire received from the Minister General of the OFM’s touching on all aspects of Poor Clare life
To approve the material submitted from the houses, an extraordinary chapter was held Sept 24 – 30, 1966 at Villa Cortona, MD. Because so many such suggestions for revision of the Constitutions were coming to Rome from all over, a request was made for secretaries and translators. Sister Catherine Flamino from the Andover community spent a little over a year in Rome serving in this capacity.
Since 1972 Assemblies have been held every three years with a wide variety of topics and speakers. These have included renewal, Franciscan sources and spirituality, the writings of Francis, Clare and Mother Maddalena, canon law, scripture, theology, psychology and human development, personality profiles, archives, music and liturgy, health care and living wills, graced history, to sample just a few.
In accordance with its purpose of promoting relations between monasteries, the Federation has also continued to sponsor a variety of speakers and a number of workshops.
The first Federation Workshop for novice directresses was held at Villa Cortona, Bethesda, MD in April of 1967. Formation has continued to be the focus for a number of subsequent meetings. Since 1966 the federation has also worked with the Franciscan Institute to sponsor three-week summer enrichment programs specifically for Poor Clares to further the educational needs of the Sisters. A federation newsletter, IN TOUCH, was begun in 1978 and continues to be published on a regular basis.
In 1966 there were 217 professed Sisters in the federation; in 1978 -189; in 1981 – 173; in 2007 – 131.
(This History was originally written by Sr. Mary David Franze, osc (Jamaica Plain) and subsequently updated by Sr. Elizabeth Enoch, osc (New York) and Sr. Marie Beha, osc (Travelers Rest). We are grateful to them for this treasure.)