Mother Dolores Sullivan, OCD, recently learned she’ll be leaving the Carmelite monastery she has called home for more than 55 years in less than a month.

“I feel brokenhearted,” Mother Dolores, 98, the original prioress of Mother of God Monastery tearfully told Catholic San Francisco after a Candlemas Day Mass Feb. 2. “The Lord is giving us a whole new beginning.”

Her sisters at the San Rafael monastery have tried to shield the frail-but-attentive 98-year-old nun from the weight of their worries after a degree of closure was issued to the monastery last May. The Vatican’s Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life cited dwindling new vocations as the cause of the closure. The complications of moving four elderly nuns into group housing or another monastery in the midst of a pandemic were acknowledged in a moveout date of March 1, 2021.

The multi-room suburban monastery was built on 45 wooded acres by Archbishop Joseph T. McGucken in 1965. Mother Dolores was one of the 10 nuns who first occupied the self-supporting monastery and has worked to sustain its life of prayer and presence to the local community ever since.

Sister Anna Marie Vanni, OCD, who has lived at the monastery all her 44 years of consecrated life, said that finding another monastery or home that could take all of the sisters together “proved impossible.” The four will be separated for the first time in years on March 1 when they leave in pairs to separate Carmelite monasteries in the Midwest.

She said she hasn’t been told what plans if any the archdiocese has for the property after the sisters are gone.

Full story at Catholic San Francisco.