Written on: December 8, 2016
“…we can’t live in the past. We must live in the present and live our prayer life here, where God has led us.” Sister Anne Boyer
There are no stained glass windows coloring filtered sunlight.
Electric lamps have replaced flickering candles. A small, windowless room, accommodating no more than 20 people at a time, is nestled quietly in a hallway filled with the sounds of people coming and going. It is the chapel at Holy Redeemer Lafayette, home to 52 Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart.
The sound inside the small, simple chapel is the sound of prayer. The sound of Catholic sisters -our sisters- in communal prayer. They gather in two groups, at two different times, to pray Evening Prayer, to pray for world peace and to pray for the intentions of those who ask for our prayers.
“Of course we miss the Motherhouse,” Sister Anne Boyer says. “But we can’t live in the past. We must live in the present and live our prayer life here, where God has led us.”
Holy Redeemer Lafayette is a retirement community in Northeast Philadelphia that is home not only to our sisters but to residents of other faiths. The pastoral team serving the residents includes Catholic priests, a Baptist minister and a rabbi.
In this interfaith setting, our sisters are building a new life: a life of community, a life of prayer and a life of fellowship and ministry, among their neighbors. “We are present and attuned to our new neighbors,” Sister Anne says.
Mass is celebrated on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. Residents gather together weekly to pray the rosary. Sister Anne and other sisters attend interfaith services and monthly bible discussion. It is a prayerful place in a non-traditional setting for Catholic sisters.
“It’s different, for sure. We’re trying very hard,” adds Sister Dolores Fitzpatrick. “We’re adjusting, little by little.”
The Prayer Board, a familiar and well-read sight at the Motherhouse, is no longer a physical object. Prayer requests are shared by e-mail and disseminated by Sister Kay Purser to sisters, employees, associates and friends. The digital sharing of prayer requests has not diminished the caring and compassionate response —the ministry— of the recipients. According to Sister Dolores, “We keep them in prayer and in our hearts.”
Sister Anne observes that, in these last few years of transition from traditional to non-traditional community life, the sisters have grown, individually and communally.
“We’ve grown in contemplative listening and prayer, out of a desire to be open to what God is asking of us, at this time, in this place. I think we now have a better appreciation of the faith and cultures of others. At this age, we’re learning, we’re changing and we’re receiving God’s grace as we walk a new path in our journey as women religious.”
The sale of our Motherhouse has allowed us to downsize responsibly as we prepare for the future care of our aging sisters. Your continued support is a blessing to us in these difficult economic times. If you would like to know how your support can make a difference in the lives of the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart, please click here
This is part of a three-part series found in our annual report to donors highlighting three pillars of religious life: Prayer, Ministry and Advocacy. Check our blog to read them all!