Rebuilding the Church through a Life of Prayer
The story of our community is a chapter within the rich history flowing from the humble beginnings of the Franciscan family. From the Crucifix in the dilapidated chapel of San Damiano in 1206, Christ commanded Francis of Assisi, telling him: Go rebuild My Church. Soon after, as Francis was rebuilding that little church brick by brick, he spoke this prophecy to some poor people standing nearby: “Come and help me in the work [of building] the monastery of St. Damian, for in that place later on will be ladies by whose renowned and holy way of living our heavenly Father will be glorified through all His holy Church.” It was in the year 1212 that these words were fulfilled when the young Clare and her first followers came to dwell there and became known as the Poor Ladies.
Two centuries later, God raised up another holy woman, St. Colette of Corbie, to bring the Order back to its original fervor. She established and reformed numerous Poor C
lare monasteries throughout France and beyond; we trace our heritage back to this fifteenth-century renewal. From Dusseldorf, Germany, the Colettine Poor Clares came to the United States in 1877, founding a monastery in Cleveland, Ohio. In 1893, another monastery was founded in Chicago, IL. And on a cold, snowy, January
21 in 1959, three sisters traveled from the Chicago monastery to Kokomo, Indiana, to prepare a temporary home for our new community at 809 Sycamore Street. Four additional sisters joined these pioneers on March 6, 1959, the day we observe as Foundation Day.
For over 800 years, Holy Mother Clare’s humble Gospel form of life has continued to inspire women to follow in the footsteps of the Poor Christ and His Poor Mother. Kokomo has become for us what Assisi was to Clare. It is the holy ground in which our simple life of prayer and penance is rooted, on behalf of our city, diocese and the whole world.
In the hermitage of this little place (of San Damiano) the virgin Clare enclosed herself for love of the heavenly Spouse. Here she enclosed herself to live, hiding her body from the tempest of the world for the rest of her life. [She brought] forth a community of virgins of Christ, instituting a holy monastery, that gave rise to the Order of the poor ladies (Legend of Clare).