San Damiano Monastery of St. Clare
Fort Myers Beach, Florida
History Cont.

In 1987 Bishop John Nevins, first Bishop of the new Catholic Diocese of Venice, Florida, invited the Poor Clares of Christ the King Monastery in Delray Beach, Florida to begin a new monastery to pray for the priests, religious and people in his care.

On May 11, 1988, three sisters were missioned for the new foundation by Bishop Thomas Daley of the Palm Beach Diocese.  The Sisters arrived on Saturday, May 14th and on Monday, May 18, 1988 the pastor of Ascension Church, Father Eugene McCarthy said Mass for us and installed the Blessed Sacrament in our small chapel.

From our first days on Fort Myers Beach we have enjoyed the support and warm friendship of our many friends and neighbors who frequently express their gratitude for our presence here.

In March of 1989 another Poor Clare came from the monastery in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts and in October of 1989 a Poor Clare came from the monastery in Darlington, England.

In 1993 we began preparing to expand the existing facility in order to accommodate future vocations to our community.  A new residence was completed in September, 1995.  We then began work on renovating the original building to enlarge the chapel and the first Mass celebrated in the new chapel was Christmas Midnight Mass, 1996.

These early years saw a decline in religious vocations throughout the Western world and even though some women came to test their vocation with us, God’s will for them lay elsewhere. Aware of the large number of vocations in the Philippines we asked our Poor Clare Sisters there if any would be willing to come to Florida. In January of 2004 two sisters arrived, one from our monastery in Quezon City, Manila and one from Cebu. By the grace of God a third Filipino sister who had spent almost thirteen years helping the Poor Clares in Belfast, Ireland, also came to join us.

The year 2004 also brought hurricane Charley and while we were spared a direct hit, our lovely little island was pretty beaten up. We sustained some damage to our roofs and extensive fence and property damage. However, even in the midst of the storm and its aftermath, the evidence of God’s protection and care were very manifest.

In 2005 hurricane Wilma passed over, but was not as destructive as Charley had been. Still, there were repairs to be made and preparations for future storms. In December of 2005 we launched a local, small-scale fund-raising campaign to meet these additional needs and we were deeply touched by the generous response we received from our friends and neighbors. Our belief that God indeed wants us here was strongly reinforced.  We already have a new generator in place, the roofs fixed and new high-impact glass windows in the most vulnerable places of the building.

In January of 2006 the temporary transfers for our two sisters from the Philippines, Sister M. Annunciacion and Sister Mary Martha were over and they returned to their monasteries with our love and gratitude. To our great joy, Sister Maria Marra who came from Belfast chose to remain with us permanently.  We continue to hope and pray that the Holy Spirit will guide more of our Filipino Clares to our shores.

Our fervent prayer now is for more young women to come and join us in following the way of Saints Francis and Clare, in joyful simplicity of life, prayer and contemplation, solitude and silence. 

If you feel called by God to this life or know someone who might be,
please contact us for more information.

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