PHILADELPHIA (ChurchMilitant.com) - A community of nuns in Philadelphia has achieved 100 unbroken years of perpetual eucharistic adoration.
The sisters of the Holy Spirit Adoration cloistered community have continuously prayed before the Blessed Sacrament in shifts, beginning in 1915 with the original nine sisters and resulting in a century of uninterrupted adoration.
They describe themselves as a "cloistered contemplative-missionary Congregation, living in community, whose members are entirely dedicated to the contemplative life in the service of perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament." Most of their day, which begins at 5:15 in the morning, is spent in prayer, both individually and in groups; their prayers are offertory on behalf of the world and on behalf of people they never have and never will meet.
Known as the "Pink Sisters" owing to their bright, rose-colored habits in honor of the Holy Spirit, the community was founded in 1896 in Holland by St. Arnold Janssen and Mother Mary Michael, its first superior general; by 1915 the institute founded a convent in Philadelphia at the invitation of Abp. Edmund Francis Prendergast. The Philadelphia location was initially populated by nine sisters that had come over from Steyl in the Netherlands, but American women soon began to apply and were accepted.
While there were at one point as many as 40 nuns living in the Convent of Divine Love in Philadelphia, there are currently only 20, the youngest being 52 years old and the oldest 90 years old.
In order to combat their dwindling numbers, the sisters have used the centennial celebration as a tool for recruitment.
All through this year they worked to make their cloistered presence a bit more present in Philadelphia: a greater number of interviews than usual were granted to reporters; Catholic women's organizations and schools were invited to speak with the sisters; and a large banner was hung outside their chapel and convent to promote the daily public Masses held on the premises.
"We rarely reached out for vocation promotion before the centennial," says Sr. Maria Clarissa. "But now we want young ladies to see how beautiful the life is and how truer the joy when it is without the trappings of material things."
"We try to be as simple as possible so we can focus on the Lord," says Sr. Mary Angelica. "We are simple in everything."
With regard to the shortage of vocations, Sr. Maria states, "We do our part in addressing these challenges, but at the same time, we leave it to the Lord. He's the one who calls."
The Holy Spirit Adoration congregation currently has more than 400 members in 22 houses in 12 countries, with houses on four continents.
Some of the work undertaken by the Philadelphia sisters includes making Rosaries and Mass cards, but also responding to letters and answering phone calls. According to the sisters, callers are often lonely, and some are suicidal. But being there to listen, they say, makes a difference.
Sister Mary Angelica says they want people who have fallen away from the Faith to realize that "no matter what their need may be," there is someone praying for them.