The following comes from a September 19 Catholic San Francisco article by Valerie Schmalz:
Each of the four monasteries of contemplative nuns in the Archdiocese of San Francisco is attracting new vocations – young women who are choosing to embrace an enclosed life and lifetime of prayer, fasting, penance, and work in a small community of women religious behind the walls of a cloister.
Corpus Christi Monastery in Menlo Park has one temporarily professed, two novices, and one postulant in its community of 12 nuns.
“In the last four years, the number of elderly nuns that died has equally been replaced” throughout the cloistered Dominicans in the U.S., said Dominican prioress Sister Maria Christine of the Cross, which she says “defies” any metrics.
After a number of years without new vocations, the Monastery of Perpetual Adoration on Ashbury Street in San Francisco now has three novices and another young woman in Guadalajara, Mexico, who hopes to enter soon, said Sister of Perpetual Adoration Alma Ruth Vargas, novice mistress. At present there are 11 nuns, she said.
The Carmelite Monastery of Cristo Rey, located across the street from the University of San Francisco, now has 14 solemnly professed nuns, and another four temporarily professed. The Mother of God Carmel in San Rafael has six nuns including one novice.
“In San Francisco we have seen a considerable rise in the contemplative orders,” said Presentation Sister Rosina Conrotto, director of the archdiocesan Office of Consecrated Life. “I’m not sure how the Holy Spirit is working in this regard but I think it is really a gift of the Spirit and …this is a gift to the church.”
“I think for young people in general being called to a radical way of life is very important,” said Perpetual Adoration Sister Teresa Guadalupe, 29, who on Aug. 6, after a year as a postulant was clothed in the white veil and scapular of a novice.
“Young people, our dreams are big. The world gives so many options outside but when we feel a calling from the Lord, we want to give it all,” said Sister Teresa, who grew up in Arizona, where she graduated from the University of Arizona.
Sister Teresa said as soon as she met the Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in San Francisco, she felt she belonged. “The joy of the community was just something that, it was just wow!” she said. “I was talking with them and laughing with them. That was very important.”
Cristo Rey Monastery’s sub-prioress, Carmelite Sister Mary of the Sacred Heart, who grew up in the outer Sunset district near San Francisco’s Ocean Beach, said she originally did not believe it was possible to have a personal relationship with God. Her vocation, she said, was “mysterious. There was absolutely no influence from anyone else. It was just a mysterious encounter with the Lord through nature.”
Dominican Sister Andre Marie, a novice, was a pharmacist who six years ago went to a charismatic conference in Oakland and that’s how it started, she said. “The call got louder and louder so I couldn’t suppress it. In 2014, I found the monastery on the Internet,” she said, and watched a YouTube video about how to become a nun to begin her path to the Menlo Park enclosure.
Carmelite Mother AnnaMarie Vanni found the San Rafael monastery when she went with a friend to listen to Byzantine music and talked to one of the sisters. “When she talked about her life of prayer, how it was all encompassing, being in the heart of Christ and meeting everyone in the heart of Christ,” Mother AnnaMarie said, she realized, “This is what I want to do. I have done it for 40 years and it’s great.”