'Pink Sisters' aim for 100 more years of continuous prayer

by Kelly Ledbetter |

(Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters / SCREEN SHOT)A Holy Spirit Adoration Sister--or "Pink Sister"--prays in the chapel of the Convent of Divine Love in Philadelphia.

PHILADELPHIA (Christian Examiner) – The Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters, a cloistered order of nuns more commonly known as the "Pink Sisters" for the color of their habits, celebrated 100 years of continuous prayer on Dec. 8—but fear they may not attain their goal of another century of prayer.

"We rarely reached out for vocation promotion before the centennial. But now we want young ladies to see how beautiful the life is and how truer the joy when it is without the trappings of material things," said Sister Maria Clarissa to Associated Press.

"As we measure a small bit of time in this New Year that is just beginning, we can remember that a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday. Nevertheless we can place this New Year before you, being promised that each moment of time your care continues. In the days to come may we serve in faithfulness and in honor."
- Prayer for a New Year from the Pink Sisters

At age 55, Sister Maria Clarissa is one of the younger sisters, whose ages range from 52 to 90. "We do our part in addressing these challenges, but at the same time, we leave it to the Lord. He's the one who calls," Sister Maria Clarissa added.

The Convent of Divine Love in Philadelphia is one of 22 houses around the globe. The order has about 420 members, 20 of which reside in Philadelphia, but this number is only about half of what it was.

The Pink Sisters, who communicate with the public through a grille and only leave their house for emergencies—wearing gray so as not to draw attention to themselves—are newly trying to describe the joys of their calling in order to raise interest in their order.

Their chapel now displays a recruitment flier, according to Crux. "Do you love Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament? Do you realize the power of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament? Is Jesus calling you to say 'yes' to a life of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament?" the flier asks.

The Pink Sisters have prayed before an alter nonstop for a century. Rising at 5:15 a.m., the sisters pray six times together throughout the day, individually for 30 minutes of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, and individually for one hour of prayer and reading, in addition to nocturnal adoration, according to the website.

To maintain this continual worship, the order will need to increase. The news service says they have been inviting Catholic women's organizations to speak to them, in addition to giving more interviews than in the past.


Founded in Holland in 1896 by St. Arnold Janssen with assistance from Mother Mary Michael, the Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters was able to expend to its second house in Philadelphia in 1915. Since then, the sisters have prayed continually, interceding for others.

Sister Mary Angelica said she wants people who have lost touch with their faith to know there is always someone praying for them, "no matter what their need may be," AP reported.

"May the newly-established tabernacle be an inexhaustible source of grace for the city of Philadelphia, the great Archdiocese, and the whole world. I hope the good Sisters will never lack zeal and devotion and give much joy to you," wrote Mother Mary Michael in 1915 about the founding of the Philadelphia house.

Sister Mary Cornelia, who was named Martha before her profession, said she feels blessed to have served the Lord for 48 years in the order. "My day is spent in quiet prayer now, keeping vigil and listening at His feet!

"It has been a joyful life in the cloister and though now my name is Mary Cornelia, I who was baptized Martha can hear the Lord saying: 'Martha has chosen the better part, and it shall not be taken away from her,'" the sister writes.

The sisters have jobs like answering the phone and making rosaries, though most of their day is spent in prayer. They receive the newspaper without the entertainment or sports sections and are permitted family visits three times a year.

"We try to be as simple as possible so we can focus on the Lord," explained Mary Angelica. "We are simple in everything, even meals — though on special occasions, we have ice cream."

About her joy in prayer, Sister Mary Emmanuelle, who grew up in the Philippines, writes, "I have learned that God has called me not to an easy life, but to a life made easy by His presence. To be quiet with the Lord is to feel that deep joy, that inner peace. And that is why I pray that when other young women hear His voice, they may not harden their hearts."

Prayer requests may be submitted to the sisters through their website.