Poor Clares welcome new member
Sister Kathy Hawkins was overjoyed as she recently professed solemn vows of poverty, chastity, obedience and enclosure as the eighth member of the Poor Clare Sisters of Omaha, cloistered nuns who serve people through prayer.
"My heart was filled with joy that could bring tears to my eyes," Sister Hawkins said of the ceremony Dec. 8 – the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception – with Archbishop Emeritus Elden Francis Curtiss presiding in the chapel of the Portiuncula, the Poor Clare Monastery near Elkhorn.
"Signing the book I became more aware of my forever ‘Yes’ to the Lord through the vows that I had professed, and receiving the ring … sealed my forever commitment to love and serve my God and spouse forever," she said.
A native of New York City, Sister Hawkins, 66, said she knew at a young age that God was calling her to religious life, but took several years to answer. After working as an office manager for a psychiatrist, she said she felt the Lord calling her into a deeper relationship with him.
In June 2009, Sister Hawkins moved to Omaha from Houston, Texas, to join the Intercessors of the Lamb, a community of priests, brothers, sisters and lay companions. A year later, Archbishop George J. Lucas closed the community, and Sister Hawkins waited for the Lord to show her the way, she said. Eventually she found the Poor Clare Sisters of Omaha, and was accepted into their community in June 2011.
"We never know where the journey will lead us, but if we follow him in faith and trust, the Lord will provide as he continues to do," she said.
The Poor Clares’ abbess, Sister Theresina Santiago, said she is happy to have Sister Hawkins, who has lived with the Poor Clares for six years, now take greater responsibility in the life and mission of the community, and share in decision making. Sister Hawkins will focus on vocation promotion, and eventually on the postulancy, or candidates for the order, she said.
"Above all, we count on her witness to the Gospel and her total gift to God in prayer," Sister Santiago said.
The last new member of the Poor Clares in Omaha made final vows in 2006. Currently there is one candidate, she said.
The Poor Clares of Omaha are growing in other ways, too, Sister Santiago said. The number of those who call with prayer requests has multiplied considerably since the Poor Clares moved into their new monastery two years ago. And the number of those who visit the monastery regularly is increasing, she said.
"We are growing in thanksgiving for the many manifestations of God’s love and providence and blessings for others through us, as well as God’s blessings to us from others," she said. "And there is hope that the Lord of the harvest will send laborers in the vineyard. We will grow in numbers, too."