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Group of cloistered nuns moving out of Denver after decades of challenging neighborhood developments

Posted at 9:55 PM, Mar 03, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-04 00:19:04-05

DENVER — A group of cloistered nuns who have called Denver home for decades said they now need to move.

The Capuchin Poor Clares Sisters moved to north Denver in 1988 from Irapuato, Guanajuato, Mexico. They describe their life as one of silence, prayer and study. They also sew habits for the Brothers and sell their popular Clarisas' Cookies to financially support their simple lifestyle.

December 1995: Capuchin Poor Clares

Over the last several decades, things haven't changed much inside the historic Our Lady of Light Monastery, but on the outside, it's a completely different story.

Quiet family homes are now bars and restaurants in the trendy Highland neighborhood. Tall apartments and condos tower over the cloistered nuns' once private prayer garden.

"It's a lot of new businesses, which is good on the one hand, but also became a little bit disrupting of the type of quietness in silence that was before," said Sister Maria de Cristo.

On Sundays, they open up mass to members of the public. They eventually decided to change mass time from 11 a.m. to 9 a.m. to give parishioners a chance to beat the massive brunch crowds in the area and help elderly visitors find parking spots closer to the church.

"Some of the nights are really noisy, especially during the weekends. People talking or shouting in the street. I's became also a little bit more dangerous," Sister Maria de Cristo said of the neighborhood.

The nuns have decided to leave behind their longtime home. They're hoping to build a new community in Byers, around 44 miles east of their current location.

Monastery .jpg

"It is hard. It's really difficult. But at the same time for us, it is an opportunity to start all over in another place," said Sister Maria de Cristo.

There are several benefits to the new location: peace and quiet in a rural area, more accessibility for elderly Sisters as construction was limited in the current location due to the building's historical status, and there will be a larger kitchen for baking their cookies.

The move is bittersweet. The Sisters said they have always loved their neighbors, even while the area around the monastery gentrified, and they will miss the parishioners who would join them on Sundays.

"Our hearts are here," said Sister Maria de Cristo, "It's not fair that some people who have lived there for many years be forced to leave, even if there are good plans for progress for making the economy or other issues better."

The nuns still need to raise $2 million for the new convent project to become a reality. Click hereif you are interested in donating to their cause.

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