The Community

Text in italics is from the Community Rule.

We are a community of sisters living in close proximity to each other, 24/7, that we may help each other to be in close proximity to God. Anyone who’s been on holiday with a group of friends or family will probably have a little idea of what it’s like to be in the same group for any length of time. Aiming to follow the will of God gives an added dimension which enables us to do this with the same group for many years.

St Francis said, “My God and my all”. Our aim is that God shall be glorified. We seek to worship him by a life wholly given to him in community.

As the Second Order, we share with the First and Third Orders of the Society of St Francis in following the holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

For Clare and for us, our [main] work is [that of] prayer; prayer for the world, prayer for the whole people of God, and in particular for our brothers and sisters of the three Orders of the Society of St Francis. We desire to have with the rest of the Society the same relationship of prayer and support that we see in Francis, Clare, and the early Franciscans.

Prayer is the highest activity of our being and is the communion with God in which we open ourselves wholly to his spirit . It may be expected to use progressively more of our mind and spirit until we can truly be said to pray at all times, whatever outward activity we are engaged in.

The community has always believed that it should, as far as is possible, work together to earn its living, and over the years, in addition to growing food, has added a ‘Wafer Room’, where altar breads are made and distributed to parishes, a Guest House for people to come and stay and a Print Room, both for printing for ourselves (cards to sell etc.) and doing work for outside customers; as well as writing, sewing, painting and various other ‘handcrafts’.

While our primary work is that of prayer, we,  like the rest of the world, have to work to obtain the necessities of life. St Clare says “Those sisters to whom the Lord gives the grace to work, shall faithfully busy themselves with some handicraft of profit to the common good”. All work of whatever kind within the community should be seen in this way.

The community is known as ‘enclosed’ which means that we live and work on the premises, rather than that we are ‘shut in’. Enclosure may be seen as an opportunity to be wholly given to God, and to allow the contemplative life to flourish. It allows people to come to us, possibly to come and share our way of life, and to know we are here for them.

This is the context in which we are to see all our relationships with families, friends and those whom the Lord brings to us from outside the community.