By Eric Heinz
After more than 35 years of quietly occupying the St. Patrick’s Church in the Highland neighborhood, the cloistered sisters of Capuchin Poor Clares Our Lady of Light Monastery are looking to move to Byers in eastern Arapahoe County.
The sisters are trying to raise another $2 million for a sanctuary on 100 acres of land that have already been donated. The land will be divided among the sisters, Capuchin friars and the benefactor who provided the land, as well as the new church.
St. Patrick’s is owned by the Archdiocese of Denver and will revert back to it once the sisters leave, said a Sister Maria of the monastery.
“The main reasons (for moving) are the major repairs needed for the building, and being non-functional especially for mobility of our elderly sisters, and the drastic change in the neighborhood environment becoming less and less suitable for our monastic way of life,” Sister Maria said.
According to a statement from the monastery’s website, the current building contains uneven floors and stairs, and a basement that is unusable due to humidity and asbestos. They are also unable to make necessary upgrades to the building for people with mobility issues.
The sisters live a cloistered lifestyle, meaning they are essentially separated from the rest of the surrounding environment. The kitchen of the monastery as well as some of the windows throughout the facility are shielded with blinds or drapes.
“We believe that the new location will provide an atmosphere of silence, appropriate to our contemplative way of life,” Sister Maria said. “We will be out of the town of Byers, but close enough for the basic needs of our daily life. We will have open space to provide both privacy and the separation from the hustle and bustle of the crowded neighborhoods of the big city.”
Sister Maria said the building has been planned on a single story so all the spaces are accessible to all the sisters.
“We are planning a simple but functional structure, in accordance with our Franciscan spirituality,” she said. It is not a short commitment to becoming a full-fledged member of the monastery. It takes a minimum of nine years, with five years of temporary vows, before becoming a full “member of the Order.”
Additionally, sisters must be practicing Catholic women between the ages of 18 and 35 upon entry and have either never been married or annulled any pre-existing marriage and have no dependent children. They must also be free of debt and have received a GED or high school diploma.
Sister Maria said the sale of the cookies and other items, such as rosaries, will help cover the costs of daily needs, utilities and other expenses, but for the new monastery projects they are relying mainly on donations from individuals and organizations.
The sisters hope to move by the summer of 2024. Currently 10 members live at the Denver monastery, eight professed sisters and two women who are in the discernment process, but the Byers facility could house