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Saturday, December 27, 2008

"The Pink Sisters"

Holy Spirit Adoration Nuns Mark Centenary of Founder’s Death
From The National Catholic Register
By Kimberly Jansen

My three-year-old daughter loves to visit the Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters’ Eucharistic chapel of Christ the King here in our hometown of Lincoln, Neb.

After all, these cloistered contemplatives don a little girl’s favorite color — pink! Their rose-colored habit has even earned them the affectionate nickname “The Pink Sisters.”

I still remember getting lost on one of my first visits to their chapel several years ago. I drove up and down the snowy street looking for a steeple. Little did I know that from the outside the sisters’ convent looks like just another mansion in the upscale midtown neighborhood.

I later learned that the property was once the bishop’s residence, but Bishop Glennon Flavin — who preferred simpler quarters — gave it to the sisters upon their arrival in 1973.

Several years ago, I was blessed to regularly visit the adoration chapel, thanks to a “Holy Hour swap” with a friend of mine.

Each week I would drop my children off at her house and head over to “The Pinks.” When I got back, she took her turn. Play time for the kids and prayer time for the moms — talk about a win-win situation!

It comes as no surprise, then, that my favorite part about the sisters’ chapel is the silence. The peace and warmth I find here have been especially welcome in the midst of the hectic seasons of Advent and Christmas.

As I visit, all I can see, at first, are large panels of colored glass windows off to the left. Instead of a smooth, seamless look like stained glass, these broken pieces resemble a large puzzle shining forth bold hues of blue, red and yellow.

Upon further inspection, I notice an image of the Magi’s visit to the Holy Family and other scenes from Christ’s life.

At certain times of day, I can hear soft voices singing the Divine Office on the other side of a high wall to my right.

During the daytime hours, lay adorers often volunteer to keep Christ company while the sisters attend to cooking, sewing, cleaning and other duties. Sometimes, if we’re lucky, though, one of the sisters will be praying in the sanctuary — in clear view just on the other side of the wooden grille.

The small chapel affords each visitor a clear view of the high altar, built in throne-like fashion to house the exposed Blessed Sacrament.

As I round the corner, my eyes are drawn upward to the monstrance. It sits under a golden half-arch about 10 feet off the ground. Ruby-colored stones stud a crown in the center and the tips of each finial.

On either side of the throne, slanted lines like the sun’s rays draw further attention to the Blessed Sacrament in the center. I learned that they were sandblasted into the pink-tinted Kasota marble.

The sisters’ collection of exquisite monstrances also sparks my interest. My favorite displays a pale blue band with large white stars surrounding the host. It reminds me of the Blessed Mother, the Ark of the Covenant and Spouse of the Holy Spirit. I can’t help but reflect on Mary’s humility in never drawing attention to herself, but only joyfully bringing us to her Son.

It was this joyful devotion to the Holy Spirit that inspired the German priest Arnold Janssen (canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2003) to found the sisters as the last of three religious orders at the end of the 19th century.

This month, Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters in 10 countries worldwide (four in the United States) will celebrate the 100th anniversary of their founder’s death.

St. Arnold possessed a great concern and zeal for foreign missions that led him to open a seminary for future missionaries in Steyl, Holland, in 1875. Four years later, his newly founded Society of the Divine Word sent its first priests to China.

St. Arnold’s dream also included active and cloistered communities for women. He compared them to Martha and Mary and spoke often of the important relationship between the two.

Although one spent her energy in service and one sat at Jesus’ feet, he emphasized their complementarity by dedicating both groups of sisters to the third person of the Holy Trinity, the source of the Church’s missionary dynamism.

Furthermore, he gave the cloistered branch a pink habit (pink being a sign of joy and a sign of their consecration to the Holy Spirit) and instructed them to perpetually adore the Blessed Sacrament.

Even today, the sisters continue the traditions of their founder. Not only do they offer frequent Monday Masses in honor of the Holy Spirit (a habit St. Arnold’s father practiced for many years), but every 15 minutes, they pause to unite themselves with the Holy Spirit in the brief “quarter-hour prayer” that their founder wrote.

Although St. Arnold designated the sisters to primarily pray for missionary priests, The Pink Sisters run an impressive apostolate answering hundreds of spiritual bouquet requests by mail, phone and in person.

I still remember the power of their intercession when complications arose during the birth of my first child six years ago. A friend of ours hurried over to the convent and slipped an urgent prayer request through the grille. On our way home from the hospital several days later, we stopped by the chapel with our newborn son to offer prayers of thanksgiving for his safe delivery.

Although my married vocation more closely resembles Martha than Mary, I am greatly inspired by The Pink Sisters’ witness. Following their example, I pray that I may more fervently strive after holiness in the “cloister” of my home in order to bring the souls of myself and my family safely to heaven.

Kimberly Jansen is based in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters
1040 S. Cotner Blvd.
Lincoln, NE 68510
(402) 489-0765


Planning your visit:

The chapel is open to the public Monday through Saturday from 6 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Mass is at 7 a.m. Monday through Saturday.

Compline and Benediction are held daily at 8 p.m.

The Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters also have convents in Philadelphia and St. Louis.

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