Features5 decades of prayerful faithfulness in the Joliet-areaBy DENISE M. BARAN–UNLANDEmailFollowOct. 22, 2019CaptionThe celebration included a Mass and dinner at Our Lady of Angels Retirement Home in Joliet. The event was invitation-only because, except in special circumstances, the St. Clare House of Prayer is not open to the community. Yet the Joliet Franciscans feel it's important for the community know about the house of prayer and why its milestone is important for the people in the Joliet area.Caption“It’s because we celebrated 50 years of being open to people’s request for prayer,” Sister Anita Beloin, a member of the house or prayer, said. “People can call us or email us asking for prayer. We’re a contemplative community in an active order…the House of Prayer is a call within a call.” Since 2008, the house of prayer, which is a sponsored ministry of the Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate, has resided in Joliet and found its current home inside the Village of Our Lady of Angels, a senior independent living community in Joliet. Pictured at the celebratino Mass are Rev. Tony Taschetta and Sisters Albert Marie Papesh, Helen Vahling and Anita Beloin.CaptionBut for 39 years, it was inside a renovated farmhouse near the Kankakee River, Beloin said. The Kankakee years During that time, the house of prayer held retreats for the community, Beloin aid. People driving past the prayer house could also stop inside, Beloin added. “People who came to find out what we were about would join us for some time of quiet and piece,” Beloin said. “We always wanted to balance contemplative prayer with living in community and an outreach to others.”CaptionThe Sisters living in the house of prayer divided their time between contemplative prayer and outreach to the poor in the area, Beloin said. One Sister, she said, delivered food and clothing to those in need. “And we had an organic garden when we were in Kankakee and we shared that with the poor,” Beloin said. In 2008, the Congregation decided to move the House of Prayer to Joliet, eventually finding a new home at OLA. But another group – One Heart, One Soul Spirituality Center – still hosts retreats in the farmhouse, Beloin said. (Early members are (back row) Sisters Angela Radak and Frances Osterhaus and (front row) Sisters Laura Filipas, Elizabeth Marie Klepec and Clarence Golla).CaptionAlthough the space at The Village is too small to host retreats, the basic prayer ministry has not changed, Beloin said. The Sisters pray for the needs of the world and for the intentions sent to them, she added. “And we listen to the news and bring it to prayer,” Beloin said. “I believe that prayers are needed for the world and the division we see in it.” Although the House of Prayer does not host formal treats, people may, on an individual basis, join the Sisters in prayer or for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, she said. A meditation group also meets at the House of Prayer and the Sisters join them in the meditation, Beloin said. Occasionally, guests have spent “a day or two with us.” “So there is an openness for people to come,” Beloin said. “But on an individual basis because we just don’t have the space.”CaptionBeloin said the Sisters who are part of the House of Prayer received permission from the Congregation and that people have their own unique call from God, who does not call everyone to contemplative prayer. “It’s a unique call,” Beloin said. “Not everybody is called to contemplative prayer. We feel it is of value. People have thanked us for remembering them in prayer, for being a listening ear and open to hearing their needs. “But we do feel a call to be in prayer, to, as St. Clare says, "Gaze upon Christ; consider Christ; contemplate Christ so as to imitate Christ.”CaptionKNOW MORE In 1962 Sister Elizabeth Marie Klepec shared her dream of having a contemplative dimension for the congregation with Mother Borromeo. In 1967 a formal proposal for establishing a house of prayer was offered. The proposal was approved at the chapter in 1968. After extensive research and negotiations with the Diocese of Joliet and some house renovations, the founding sisters (Elizabeth Marie Klepec, Agnes Ferber, Laura Filipas and Frances Osterhaus) moved into the renovated farm house on the banks of the Kankakee River on Aug. 20, 1969. A small, modest, three-bedroom farmhouse was acquired on the banks of the Kankakee River, and where the living room would serve as the chapel. Expansion began in 1975 with an addition that included a chapel, retreat wing and conference rooms. In time, two hermitages were added to the property. The house of prayer/retreat ministry continued for 39 years in Kankakee. In the summer of 2008 the Kankakee house closed and its contemplative prayer ministry reopened in Joliet on Indianwood Lane. Three years later St. Clare House of Prayer moved to the Village at Our Lady of Angels. The ministry at St. Clare’s centers on contemplative prayer, community and outreach to others. St. Clare House of Prayers deceased core members: Sisters Agnes Ferber, Charles Marie Fahrenbach, Mary Lukas, Frances Osterhaus, Angela Radak, Lillian Zenz, Eileen Bannon, Clarence GollaCaptionPast core members living at OLA include Sister Laura Filipas and (pictured above) Sister Elizabeth Marie Klepec and Sister Dorothy Clare Zuleski, seen as they are enjoying the lunch at the 50th anniversary.CaptionPresent members are Sister Anita Beloin,CaptionSister Albert Marie PapeshCaptionand Sister Helen Vahling. PRAYER REQUESTS To email a prayer request, visit jolietfranciscans.org. For more information, visit the website or call 815-725-8735. On Oct. 13, the Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate held an invitation-only event celebrating a milestone anniversary of the St. Clare House of Prayer.