Cloistered Religious Sisters celebrate Feast Day

On Wednesday, Aug. 11, Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated Mass for the Poor Clare Sisters at the San Damiano Monastery on Fort Myers Beach.

The Mass was celebrated on the Feast Day of St. Clare of Assisi, foundress of the Poor Clare Order and a contemporary of St. Francis of Assisi.

The small group of women Religious live a cloistered life and pray for the faithful in the Diocese of Venice, something Bishop Dewane said is a blessing for the Diocese.

“I express my gratitude for your presence, your prayers, your witness, your testimony and you are living as a community of women religious who live by a severe rule,” Bishop Dewane said. “You live in the Lord, and the Lord lives in you.”

Abbess Sister Mary Frances Fortin and the other Religious Sisters at the Monastery expressed their appreciation for the Bishop’s presence, particularly on the Feast Day of their Founder, which is an annual occasion. They noted that the continued support of the Bishop and the faithful of the Diocese are a comfort to them.

The Poor Clare Nuns are a religious community of women begun 800 years ago when Clare Offreduccio, a young noble woman of Assisi, Italy, cast off her rich garments and donned the simple garb of St. Francis to live as he did the Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Long before this dramatic moment, Francis, while rebuilding the little church of San Damiano, exclaimed to those passing by, “Come and help me in building the monastery of San Damiano because ladies will dwell here who will glorify Our Heavenly Father throughout His Holy Church by their celebrated and holy manner of life.”

Clare and her sisters joyfully embraced a life of poverty, prayer and contemplation, solitude and seclusion that they might serve the Lord and His church through this holy manner of living as Francis had foretold. This life continues today in the San Damiano Monastery on Fort Myers Beach.

The San Damiano Monastery is located on the same property as Ascension Parish on Fort Myers Beach which that have called their home since 1988. The Monastery became independent in 2009. Although the Sisters never solicit donations, many parishioners bring them groceries and send them money each month. There is a daily Mass which is open to the public.

The daily life of the Poor Clare Sisters is set into a traditional monastic framework of prayer and work. Holy Mass and Liturgy of the Hours are the anchor of their day. Outside these times, the Sisters engage in all the ordinary tasks of life in a spirit of sisterly sharing, joy and peace. A Sister might be found packing up an order of hosts for one of the local parishes, taking care of the altar, sweeping the cloister walk or doing some laundry. Or you may find a Sister at a desk, doing bookkeeping, answering mail, preparing spiritual cards or planning the liturgy.

You can contact the Poor Clare Sisters by calling 239-463-5599, emailing prayer requests to, or learn more about Mass times or their daily life by visiting

Donations in support of the Poor Clare Sisters can be sent to: San Damiano Monastery of St. Clare, 6029 Estero Blvd., Fort Myers Beach, FL 33931.