Dedicated to God: An Oral History of Cloistered Nuns by Abbie ReeseAs a subculture, cloistered monastic nuns live hidden from public view by choice. Once a woman joins the cloister and makes final vows, she is almost never seen and her voice is not heard; her story is essentially nonexistent in the historical record and collective, public history.
From interviews conducted over six years, Abbie Reese tells the stories of the Poor Clare Colettine Order, a cloistered contemplative order at the Corpus Christi Monastery in Rockford, Illinois. Seldom leaving their 25,000-square-foot gated enclosure, members of this community embrace an extreme version of poverty and anonymity - a separation that enables them to withdraw from the world to devote their lives to prayer. This removal, they contend, allows them to have a greater impact on humanity than if they maintained direct contact with loved ones and strangers.
Dedicated to God explores individual and cultural identity through oral history interviews with several generations of nuns, focusing on the origins and life stories of the women who have chosen to become members of one of the strictest religious orders. But the narrative is also one of a collective memory and struggle against extinction and modernity, a determination to create community within the framework of ancient rules.
The authors stunning photographs of their dual worlds, religious and quotidian, add texture to the narrative.
This artistic and ethnographic work highlights the countercultural values and dedication of individuals who, at incredible personal cost, live for love of God and humanity, out of faith in what cannot be seen, and with the belief that they will be rewarded in the afterlife.
Why change the site?
About six years after St. Francis' conversion from his former way of life, the Lady Clare noble by birth yet more noble by grace, decided to follow in his footsteps. In the dead of night on Palm Sunday in Clare opened the door of the Offreduccio household and never turned back. Today she has many followers throughout the world. Their relationship with the friars is cemented in the bond that existed between Francis and Clare. The Friars of Sacred Heart Province take special care of the needs of the sisters in the monasteries connected to our Province:.
Realizing the difficult work that lay before him and animated by his strong faith in the power of prayer, he desired to have a community of Poor Clares who would devote themselves to a life of prayer and penance for the welfare of the diocese. After repeated requests to Mother Mary Theresa of Cleveland for some Sisters to begin a foundation, it was not until March, , that the first two Poor Clares arrived in Rockford. For six months the sisters labored to set up a temporary monastic existence. Some of the outstanding circumstances that marked this early period of the history of our community were the hospitality of the good Franciscan Sisters of St. Clare, August 12, Soon the arrival of more Sisters. Bishop Muldoon was untiring in his efforts, explaining to the people of Rockford, a city only one-tenth Catholic at the time, the life of this mendicant Order and recommending the new community to the care and charity of the priests and laity.