OK, they did it in shifts — each taking turns at prayer.
Still, by any measurement, the milestone reached by a group of cloistered nuns in Philadelphia last December was remarkable.
On Dec. 8, 2015, the Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters — known as the “Pink Sisters” for their rose-colored habits — marked their centennial by completing 100 years of continuous prayer. For a century, at least one sister could be seen kneeling in prayerful vigil inside the Convent of Divine Love.
Now the sisters are working on their next 100 years of continuous prayer. No breaks allowed.
The 20 nuns of the Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters live a simple, uncluttered life. They do not take a vow of silence, but limit their speaking. TV? They only view programs of a religious nature.
The life of a contemplative religious, like a Holy Spirit Adoration Sister, is lived in prayer and contemplation of God. Three times a year, each sister is allowed a visit with family and close friends at the convent. The nuns only leave their monastery in case of emergencies.
They wear their rose-colored habits while in their enclosure; they switch to gray when they leave it. The Holy Spirit Adorations Sisters selected the color rose, as they explain on their website (adorationsisters.org), “in honor of the Holy Spirit.” The color “symbolizes our dedication to the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity. Additionally, the traditional color rose symbolizes the liturgical calendar of the Church — an expression of the sisters’ joyful adoration before the Blessed Sacrament.”
The lives of the Pink Sisters are quiet and uncomplicated — pretty much the opposite of 99.9 percent of the residents of Orange County.
There’s no order like the Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters in Orange County, although a well-known contemplative order is nearby, in Alhambra. The Carmelite nuns there, members of the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel established in 1913, live quiet lives of contemplation similar to their sisters at the Convent of Divine Love in Philadelphia.
Sister Eymard Flood, Vicar for Religious at Christ Cathedral in Garden Grove, notes that the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange, established in 1976, is relatively new and does not have a monastery of nuns.
Of course, Sister Eymard says, such an order someday could be established in OC, but for now, she says, “none have sought to come here.”
The 326 sisters, seven brothers and 89 religious priests in the Diocese of Orange are committed to lives of prayer and service, typically to the needy, ill, poor and marginalized. This devotion to ministry in parishes, centers, hospitals, etc., represents the apostolic dimension of consecrated life. Members of the Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters represent the contemplative or monastic part of that life.
On a typical day, the Pink Sisters wake up at 5:15 a.m. By 5:45 a.m. they’re engaged in morning prayer. A meditation period is followed by Mass at 7 a.m. Then it’s time for breakfast.
That meal — the sisters keep things simple — is followed by a midmorning prayer (“terce,” Latin for the third hour after dawn, or 9 a.m.) and assigned duties such as answering phone calls and responding to letters or making rosaries that are sold to help support the convent.
At 11:30 a.m., the sisters gather for midday prayer (“sext,” for the sixth hour after dawn), and then eat. They have a free hour following a midafternoon prayer (“none,” for ninth hour, or 3 p.m.) Then it’s back to assigned duties and at 5 p.m., evening prayers (“vespers,” Latin for “evening”) and benediction.
Some assigned duties are performed before supper at 6:30 p.m. Supper is followed by community recreation (crafts, outdoor activities), a night prayer and then bed — around 8 p.m.
Members of a cloistered order like the Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters are devoted to Perpetual Adoration, the Eucharistic devotion in which members of a parish team engage in adoration before the Most Blessed Sacrament 24/7.
Sister Flood notes that Perpetual Adoration does not refer to private prayer. “All of the sisters in Orange County gather in their communities for prayer and most include Eucharistic Adoration,” Sister Flood says.
“When we do, we are praying with, and we are praying for, the Church. We pray in union for the needs of the church and for the world, and for the resolution of the needs of people everywhere.”
Should a contemplative order of nuns like the Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters ever be established here, perhaps they, too, will come up with a distinctive habit color.
The Orange Sisters, anyone?