“What do you desire?”
This is the beautiful question discerning women will hear upon knocking on the doors to be officially accepted into the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration.
Father Patrick Mary, a priest with the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word, had the honor of blessing his sister, Siobhan, moments before her life changed forever.
At just 28 years old, Siobhan entered into the cloistered Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration. If this sounds familiar, it is because EWTN foundress Mother Angelica was also a nun of this order.
Father Patrick spoke with ChurchPOP to discuss the photos the Franciscan Missionaries published on social media from this once-in-a-lifetime event.
Fr. Patrick’s sister, Siobhan entered the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration Saturday morning. Father gave her a special blessing before she walked through the enclosure door. God bless Siobhan. 🙏🏼@OLAMShrine pic.twitter.com/MGJnWcAkKh
— Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word (@MFVAFriars) October 28, 2023
Father Patrick recalls his own journey to religious life, being the oldest of eight children and raised in a military family.
“When we lived in Germany, at one point, we started praying the rosary as a family together,” he said. “I think that really had a powerful impact on our family, but also that would come to bear fruit later.”
Jokingly, Father shared that at a young age, his mother asked if he wanted to become a priest, and he never answered “yes” or “no.”
During his freshman year at the University of Miami, however, he thought about the priesthood more seriously. During a family Christmas trip to Alabama, they visited the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament for midnight mass.
“Back in 2000, during that Mass, I experienced the call to the priesthood,” Father Patrick shared. “I felt a very strong interior pull and it was unmistakable.”
Father mentioned his attraction toward the simple life of the Franciscan Friars.
In 2002, Father Patrick officially entered religious life.
“When I entered, Siobhan was 7 years old. When they would come to visit from Florida for bigger ceremonies, they visited the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament,” he explained. “Sometimes they were able to visit the sisters in the parlor, so Siobhan was able to meet them from a very young age.
“I think that’s when she felt that initial attraction toward that life– from a young age– just her interactions with the Poor Clares at the monastery in Hanceville.”
Siobhan lived a regular life and routine. She studied music education in college and sang for the EWTN choir and the Cathedral choir.
She dated after college, but according to Father, it never seemed to be where the Lord was leading her. He recalls that Siobhan was taking her faith very seriously and started to consider making a visit to the Poor Clares.
He encouraged his sister to attend a retreat the Poor Clares hosted for discerning young women. She then visited a few more times and even experienced living life in a cloister.
Father shares that Siobhan then confirmed that the Lord was leading her to this life after visiting gave her so much peace.
“I was a bit surprised. I thought maybe she would be a Dominican since they teach, but when she visited, she felt really drawn to their life of prayer and adoration.”
The Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration are cloistered contemplative nuns who live a secluded lifestyle. Though this lifestyle is a big sacrifice, they are not the only ones who make it.
Their family and friends must also make a lifetime sacrifice of extremely limited visits with a grille between them.
“For me, it is a pure joy,” Father Patrick stated. “On a natural level, I did have that thought of the sacrificial aspect. We won’t have as much communication with her as we did in the past, but at the same time, that sacrifice is a beautiful gift to God and a blessing for our family to know our sister, my parents’ daughter, is there praying for us, the Church, and the world.”
He also shares that these small visits give them the ability to make the most of what time they do have with her, making the greeting all the more meaningful.
“My parents are very joy-filled about her doing this and very happy for her,” Father Patrick said. “There is a bittersweet aspect, but it is certainly more joyful.”
The Photo: Blessing Siobhan
“It was a great gift that I was able to give her a blessing before she knocked on the door to seek entrance.”
Father commented on the dialogue that happens when a discerning woman ceremoniously kneels and knocks on the enclosure door.
He noted the sacredness of this protocol. When the door dramatically opens, Siobhan recites the proper words, and she is accepted. She then enters into the embrace of the other sisters where she is then given a veil and medal. Their next view of her becomes their first official visit in the parlor through the grille, as she is now a novitiate.
Father recalls that the interaction Siobhan first had with the Poor Clares as a young child made all the difference in her vocation.
“Spending life before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament– she felt a great peace and drawn towards it,” Father Patrick explained.
“Spending all that time in prayer before the Lord in the Holy Eucharist and living life in Eucharistic adoration has given her a lot of strength, grace, and peace.”
Lastly, Father expressed his gratitude towards his parents for practicing the faith and being a guiding example.
“The rosary was influential for both of us to be open later to answer the call to religious life.”
He then shared some prayerful advice for each of us to be open to our own vocation and call, whatever it may be.
“I encourage you to pray, ‘Jesus, help me to want what you want.'”