Pope Francis declared that a Year of Consecrated Life be celebrated throughout the world, a time dedicated to the faithful whose vows of poverty, chastity and obedience serve to illuminate heaven on earth. To help mark this occasion, The Catholic Sun is featuring each month members of religious communities who serve the Diocese of Phoenix.
Religious community: Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration
Community charisms: Perpetual Eucharistic adoration in a spirit of reparative thanksgiving
Community founding: Dec. 8, 1854, by Marie Claire Bouillevaux in Paris, France
Current role: Formation, vocations, webmaster and community cook
When she first heard God’s call: Age 16
Final vows: Aug. 2, 2003
Sr. Mary Fidelis discovered a vocation to the religious life when she began to understand the True Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. She joined the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration, the order affiliated with EWTN’s Mother Angelica, 20 years ago and resides with four other sisters at Our Lady of Solitude Monastery west of Phoenix in Tonopah.
The Catholic Sun: When did you first realize God was calling you to consecrated life?
Sr. Mary Fidelis: The first inkling was when I was 16. I was on the yearbook staff and one of the kids asked me if I believed that Jesus was really present in the Blessed Sacrament. And it occurred to me I had no idea what I believed. One of the other staff members said, yes, that is what we believe. She was so convicted that it made me realize I don’t know what I believe and I don’t even know what the Blessed Sacrament is or what I’m receiving. That was the day I woke up. I had gone through R.E. but nothing sank in. That day I went home and I went to my room and knelt down and said to the Lord, “If you’ve given Yourself so totally to me, then I have to give myself totally You.” To live a life of Eucharistic adoration was planted in my heart at that moment.
TCS: Why did you choose the Poor Clares?
Sr. Mary Fidelis: My family moved from Pittsburgh to Alabama and we were 30 minutes from Mother Angelica’s monastery. My mom started going out there to volunteer in the gift shop. She asked me to go with her one spring break and I felt so at home. Every desire the Lord had put in my heart, I saw within the community a fulfillment of it. The sense of living a Eucharistic life, a family-spirited community, living a simple life, a Franciscan life — it just laid it out for me in such a beautiful way and showed me this is what He wanted for me and what I wanted.
TCS What has been the most fulfilling about your life as a Poor Clare?
Sr. Mary Fidelis: I think for me it’s the truth of the totality of our consecration, that it really is being totally given over to Christ and receiving Him as He gives Himself to us. So there’s that beautiful divine intimacy that I find every day. To be wowed by that and to rest in that and having that lived out in community is a beautiful experience.