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The Catholic Corner- The Poor Clares of Montana

~Keeping you informed and updated on Helena Catholic Organizations~

Though not located in the Diocese of Helena, another wonderful vocation and organization that Montana has are the Poor Clares. Spanning back to Assisi, Italy in the 13th century, St. Clare; a devoted friend and follower of St. Francis of Assisi founded her own group of women religious who live a monastical life. From these origins come the Poor Clares of Montana. In 1998, Sr. Clare Frances McAvoy, the president of the Holy Name Federation of Poor Clares, took two different delegations of sisters to Great Falls, MT to meet Bishop Milone to discuss the idea of a foundation. April of 1999, with permission from the Holy See the foundation had been approved and four sisters from four different monasteries made the move. They lived in the former rectory from September 30th 1999 till 2003, next to St. Joseph Church until a monastery could be built. April 27th, 2003 ground was officially broken for the monastery, which was to be the first, and continues to be the only one in the state of Montana. In October of 2004, construction began on the first phase of the monastery building, the living quarters for the sisters. It was decided to build the monastery in three phases: the living quarters for the sisters, the chapel building, and the retreat and work space. On May 12th 2007 was the dedication of the chapel and completion of the chapel building. Bishop Milone, although retired by then, returned to celebrate the beautiful Liturgy of the dedication of St. Clare Chapel. The third phase of the monastery was begun several weeks later through the generosity of benefactors. In March of 2008, the building was completed and Montana had a monastery.

The Poor Clares greatly focus on prayer as their service to the world, living by the tenants of poverty, chastity, obedience and enclosure. Prayer and Community are the two main focuses of The Poor Clares. They focus on their life as a community and in their prayer as sisters as well as individually. They wear the traditional Franciscan cord with four knots in the rope to symbolize, poverty, chastity, obedience, and enclosure. If you or someone you know is looking to discern religious life the sisters state that below are the following qualities they look for.

Someone that...

  • Have a deep desire to dedicate their whole being to God in a way of life which is expressed in prayer, community, silence, and solitude, to live for God alone;

  • Are normally between the ages of 25 and 50;

  • Have at least a high school education and two years of either work experience or further education;

  • Are free of debt and all other moral responsibilities;

  • Have good health, and are socially and psychologically well-balanced and mature.

If you have prayer requests or want to learn more about the Poor Clares of Montana you can find more at

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