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The Order of Saint Clare, the Poor Clares, is part of the Franciscan family. It was founded in 1212 by St Francis and St Clare, to follow Christ in Gospel living with an apostolate of prayer.

The Gospel life was the centre and heart of Clare’s spirituality and she lived this life within a specifically contemplative setting, in the little monastery of San Damiano outside the walls of Assisi. For Clare, to follow Christ meant to contemplate Christ and to imitate him.

Other women, inspired by the same Spirit, soon joined her. Today there are Poor Clares in most countries of the world seeking to live the same Gospel life in the footsteps of Francis and Clare.

Our community of Poor Clares came to Sydney, Australia, in 1951 at the invitation of the Australian province of the Friars Minor. Five sisters from the historic monastery of Nuns’ Island, Galway settled in the Franciscan parish of Waverley.
Bethlehem Monastery
As Australians soon joined them, it became necessary to build a larger and more permanent monastery, to accommodate the growing community. In 1968 our community moved to Campbelltown where the present monastery is situated.

In 1971 we joined with the Poor Clare community of Ennis, Ireland, to establish a monastery in Aitape, Papua New Guinea, in the mission territory of the Order of Friars Minor.