North Memphis monastery that’s been here since 1932 closes next week as last two nuns leave

Local Faith

MEMPHIS, Tenn. ( – In the Monastery of St. Clare, in a tough North Memphis neighborhood, the days are winding down to single digits before they leave.

People have prayed here since 1932, through several wars, different presidents, all sorts of disasters.

The nuns of the order of St. Clare have been the one constant thing – never changing – always trying to make the world a better place. They feel the burdens of the world can be lifted off the shoulders of man with the power of prayer.

“There’s so much going on,” says Sister Mary Marguerite (Monastery of St.Clare, OSC).

“I think everybody is in agreement the World is not in good shape. We might disagree why, but there’s general agreement, things are not what they should be.”

In recent years, however, age has taken some of their nuns. There are only two that remain.

And sometimes the sounds of gunshots puncture their prayers.

“We’ve had two break-ins within the past year,” says Sister Mary Claudia (Monastery of St. Clare, OSC). “Thanks be to God, none of us were hurt. But it does kind of change your inside, and you tend to be a little more suspicious.”

They will leave on Friday, November 22nd. They will leave many friends behind – that’s what they say they will remember.

 “I am leaving so many memories and things and people and friends behind,” says Sister Mary Claudia. “And yet, they’re not really behind. Once you’re in our hearts, you can’t get out.”

Young women don’t want to be nuns anymore. It is a difficult, rigid life, but the rewards are great, says Sister Mary Claudia.

They will be going to a monastery in Travelers Rest, South Carolina, where there are more people and more prayers will be needed.

They are both excited.

Sister Mary Marguerite looked around at workers removing paintings and other religious items and said, “Even though it is difficult to see things get dismantled, it’s kind of like an ending that makes it very real. But at the same time, we do believe God has something wonderful in store for this property.”

The same can be said for the people of Travelers Rest.

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