Background/Update on Mother Angelica’s Poor Clare Sisters In General And Specifically The Group Who Left (Or Were Ordered By Archbishop Garcia-Siller To Leave) Our Lady of the Atonement Ordinariate Parish in San Antonio, Texas

[Background/Update on Mother Angelica’s Poor Clare Sisters In General And Specifically The Group Who Left (Or Were Ordered By Archbishop Garcia-Siller To Leave) Our Lady of the Atonement Ordinariate Parish in San Antonio, Texas]

Saturday, January 27, 2018

I’ve heard from two visitors who’ve been pursuing the question of why three Poor Clare sisters left their location on the Our Lady of the Atonement property and moved to Alabama. Both have done extensive research based on web sources. One says,

The nuns at Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in Alabama had undergone a substantial reorganization in recent years. I am not sure if it was related to Mother Angelica’s death in 2016, but certainly that was another factor. I did a search, and I came up with this forum post from 2012, that was telling. One of the forum posters comments on how they went from 38 members in 2008 down to 12.This newsletter from 2015 states that Our Lady of Angels Monastery was ordered to merge with another Monastery in North Carolina, putting their total at 10 professed nuns and 6 in formation.

This makes me wonder if the Texas Nuns returned home to Alabama, not entirely because they were requested to leave by Archbishop Gustavo, or “ordered” out of Texas as the Church Militant article would have the reader believe. Based on what I have read, and considering that there appeared to be a door open to them by Bishop Lopes, it seems more likely that the Texas Nuns ultimately left because of their dwindling numbers in Texas and in Alabama, and the consolidation that appears to be taking place.

Another visitor reports,

[Mother Angelica] was involved for a time in the Charismatic Movement in the US and it was purported that she could talk in tongues. She shared this charism with her order. Hard to imagine these Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration in their traditional, throwback habits, sitting around, waiting for the spirit to move them and blabbering on in foreign languages they themselves did not speak, right? Wrong, while Mother Angelica was involved with the charismatic movement, her nuns did not yet wear the traditional habits.This charismatic influence created serious conflicts within her order. Mother Angelica gradually backed away and then separated herself from the movement but this tainted her in some people’s eyes. In 1991, Mother Angelica had a profound, orthodox revelation and changed the habits of her nuns back to the traditional, Poor Clares garb. This seemed to be a boon to membership in AL.

At this point in the story, you should be getting the picture that there were two sets of nuns within this orders, loosey-goosey ones and strait-laced orthodox types. Orthodox has the upper hand and is squeezing out the loosey-goosies.. The bridges were being burned but the train hadn’t come along the track just yet. The expansion of this order to monasteries across the country had begun with three in OH, one in AZ, TX, and AL.

While Mother Angelica was the Abbess of OLAM in AL, their vocations grew and the community was vibrant enough to be the source of sending nuns to Texas(5), Ohio(2), Arizona(5 or 6) and back to Troyes, France to re-establish one of the founding order sites. This is where Mother Angelica’s successor enters the picture. Mother Dolores Marie joined the monastery in AL in 1991. She was sent to Portsmouth, OH, with another nun to assist the elderly nuns there and try to regrow the community. She was appointed mother vicar of this community.

Some of the elderly nuns died, some new nuns joined, the whole kit and caboodle moved to Charlotte, NC at the invitation of Bishop Jung in 2010. Still there were six(monasteries)… By 2015, Mother Angelica’s health was so poor, they needed a new Mother Superior. Years of declining health after her stroke had reduced Mother Angelica’s recruiting abilities and it seems the ongoing orthodox vs. not -so-much factions finally brought the train to the track where the bridges were out.

The group in AL had shrunk to five professed members, the group in Texas had shrunk to three, the group in AZ had themselves formally separated into their own entity and the group in NC had six members. As per a notice on St. Joseph Monastery (NC) website in November of 2015, the nuns were moving to AL at the request of the Holy See to bolster the OLAM because of its importance in founding the EWTN with Mother Dolores Marie becoming the new Mother Superior and Mother Angelica becoming the Abbess Emeritus(see, there’s that emeritus thing again).

Now there are five… maybe. The first three, Canton, Cleveland and the AZ bunch, are each separate entities with the Holy See, with little or no real ties to the AL group anymore. So then there were two… AL and TX. With only 11 total nuns left in AL and three in TX, this once proud order has hit the skids. So what happened to all the nuns? From my research, I saw that some were unhappy because the order was not conservative enough and they have since left to start their own religious groups (I looked at couple of them and was a little alarmed that they portrayed themselves a little more Catholic than the Pope, if you know what I mean).

That the three Texas nuns were recalled to the Mother House in AL is probably the best thing that could have happened, under the circumstances. I would hate to see Mother Angelica’s legacy erased so soon after her death and I do not envy the Herculean task Mother Dolores Marie has on her plate of rebuilding this order.

I think the least we can say is that there is a great deal more to this whole story than either Church Militant or various social media discussions have acknowledged. … The truth seems to be that the Poor Clares aren’t what they used to be, and the move seems to be for reasons largely unrelated to issues connected with Fr Phillips, [the parish, the archdiocese and the Ordinariate].

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One comment on “Background/Update on Mother Angelica’s Poor Clare Sisters In General And Specifically The Group Who Left (Or Were Ordered By Archbishop Garcia-Siller To Leave) Our Lady of the Atonement Ordinariate Parish in San Antonio, Texas

  1. Interesting, if accurate. I haven’t seen any EWTN broadcasts in a long time so comparison of the article’s claims with eyes-on evidence isn’t possible.
    The Network Gone Wrong and the religious community are two distinct but closely related items. There were always dodgy issues with M Angelica (RIP) but she seemed to tack her way out of some of them in the nick o’ time.
    If this turns out to be another religious community dissolution by yet one more Nervous Ordeal conciliar enterprise then it won’t be surprising. It would be interesting to know how the network conglomerate is doing, as well. After all, the comedy gold mine provided by Raymond Arroyo’s “The World’s Over” may have a few nuggets left.

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