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November 4 - 17, 2012

Four communities of women praying for the world

Discalced Carmelite Nuns, 1101 N. River Road Des Plaines. Karen Callaway / Catholic New World

Discalced Carmelite Nuns, 1101 N. River Road Des Plaines. Karen Callaway / Catholic New World

Handmaids of the Precious Blood Chapel, Lake Villa, IL Karen Callaway / Catholic New World

Handmaids of the Precious Blood Chapel, Lake Villa, IL Karen Callaway / Catholic New World

Missionaries of Charity, 1629 South Allport, Chicago. Karen Callaway / Catholic New World

The Poor Clares sisters at the Monastery of the Immaculate Conception in Palos Park celebrated the 800th anniversary of their religious community on March 18 during a Mass with Cardinal George. The order was founded in Assisi; Italy; in 1212 when a young woman; Clare Scifi; left her wealthy family to begin a community of religious women under the guidance of St. Francis. Karen Callaway / Catholic New World

The Poor Clares sisters at the Monastery of the Immaculate Conception in Palos Park celebrated the 800th anniversary of their religious community on March 18 during a Mass with Cardinal George. Karen Callaway / Catholic New World

For almost 60 years the church has designated Nov. 21, the Feast of the Presentation of Mary, as Pro Orantibus Day (For those who pray), according to the Institute on Religious Life in Libertyville. This day honors the role cloistered and monastic men and women play in the life of the church. To mark this day, we are highlighting the four communities of contemplative or cloistered women in the Archdiocese of Chicago.

Discalced Carmelites, 1101 N. River Road, Des Plaines

The Monastery of Discalced Carmelite nuns in Des Plaines — also known as a “Carmel” — is home to 18 women, ages 25 to 94, including new postulants. Discalced Carmelites live a “life of prayer and a prayer of life.” The order was founded by St. Teresa of Avila in 1562 as a reform of the Carmelite order of which St. Teresa was a member. The new order emphasized poverty and prayer. Within a few years, with the help of St. John of the Cross, she had also founded an order of Discalced Carmelite Friars. St. Therese of Lisieux was a Discalced Carmelite as well.

The Chicago Carmel was established at its current site on Nov. 24, 1959.

For information or to share prayer intentions, call (847) 298-4241.

Handmaids of the Precious Blood Superior, Priory of the Heart of Mary, 724 W. Petite Lake Road, Lake Villa,

The Handmaids are cloistered contemplatives dedicated to the honor, praise and worship of God, according to the community’s website, and they have a particular devotion to pray for priests.

Their motherhouse is located in Jemez Springs, N.M., and the community began the priory here in the 1980s after a Catholic family wanted to donate a piece of their summer farm property to a religious community. Four sisters live at the priory and range in age from 44 to 75.

The sisters converted the porch into space for a chapel where they are involved in daily Eucharistic adoration. There is Mass in the morning at 7 a.m. and eucharistic adoration follows until 5 p.m. and is open to the public.

The public is invited to join them for daily adoration, (847) 356-7729, www.nunsforpriests.org.

Poor Clares, Monastery of the Immaculate Conception, 12210 S. Will-Cook Road, Palos Park

The Monastery of the Immaculate Conception is home to six Poor Clares, members of an 800-year-old cloistered order who spend their days praying for the church and the world outside their gates.

The Poor Clares first came to Chicago in 1893, but closed their monastery here due to dwindling numbers in 1992, with the remaining sisters moving to a Poor Clare monastery in Roswell, N.M. Seven years later, Cardinal George visited the monastery in Roswell and invited the order to return to Chicago.

The sisters who returned in 2000 took up temporary residence in a convent at St. Symphorosa Parish while the new monastery in Palos Park was built.

The public is welcome to come to Mass each day at 7 a.m. (8 a.m. on Christmas, New Year’s Day and Easter Sunday), and visitors can visit the chapel and the gift shop at other times. The sisters receive visitors (from behind a screen) several times a day.

For more information, call (708) 361-1810 or visit www.chicagopoorclares.org.

Missionaries of Charity, 1629 S. Allport, Chicago

The contemplative branch of the Missionaries of Charity — the order of nuns founded by Mother Teresa — was founded in New York in 1976, and their convent in Chicago lists seven residents in the most recent edition of the Archdiocese of Chicago directory.

Unlike the other cloistered orders listed here, the contemplative Missionaries of Charity do leave their convent for two to three hours each day to pray with and for the poor. They sometimes have a “contemplative walk” in which the sisters walk silently, praying for all, especially for those whom they pass, and remaining on the look out for glimpses of Jesus in the faces around them.

They also spend time in eucharistic adoration and fostering the spiritual growth of those around them.