In the Judeo-Christian tradition solitude has always carried a sense of intimacy with God. The prophet Hosea describes God “alluring” persons to the desert to speak to their heart. Psalm 46 voices God’s invitation, “Be still and know that I am God.” Jesus withdrew to deserted places both to make great decisions and to pray after particularly full days of preaching. In turn, he invited his apostles to do the same.
This revered practice of withdrawing into solitude has continued over the centuries as individuals and groups explored ways to engage in this deeply spiritual experience appropriate to their historical time and geographic location. For some it was traveling to wild, deserted places. For others it was withdrawing to a nearby mountain or simply a small designated room attached to a traditional religious site.
Our hermitages are located in Aston about a quarter of mile north of the motherhouse. They are on the same property as Clare House within natural woods and sited in a way that treads lightly on the earth. One hermitage is handicapped accessible from the parking area. Each hermitage is a single-dwelling room, 17 X 17 feet, equipped with air-conditioning and heat, offering an area for contemplation, eating, sleeping and bathing, as well as a private porch for outdoor reflection and prayer.
Each hermitage provides…
Bed, bedding, pillows, blankets, sheets, etc.
Closet with hangers for clothing, etc.
Table, desk and chair
Toilet, shower, mirror
Towels, washcloth, bath mat, toilet tissue
Kitchen facilities such as:
Sink, and stove top
Microwave, coffee pot, small pot, small frying pan
Cooking utensils, pot holders, dish towels/cloths
Dinnerware: plates, glasses, cups, flatware
Packets of sugar/substitute, creamer, salt and pepper
Trash can/plastic trash bags
What you may want to bring
Food (not provided)
First aid items (kit)
Toiletries (including insect repellent)
Tapes/CDs and equipment
To assist you…
A folder in each hermitage provides:
Directions to Area Churches
Locations and directions to local stores
The Franciscan Solitude Experience
Franciscans bring a unique dimension to the spiritual practice of solitude as envisioned and lived by St. Francis of Assisi and his followers. St. Francis moved in and out of solitude with a profound sense of the integral relationship of all creation as brother and sister. Drawing on the gospel images of “Martha and Mary,” he created a simple ten-verse ‘rule” for those wishing to spend time in a hermitage experience to spend time in a hermitage experience which integrates solitude with relationship.
CLARE HOUSE: A Contemplative Dimension of the Center
Clare House was founded in the spirit of St. Clare of Assisi, the first contemplative Franciscan woman. It is the oldest house located on the property of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, probably built in 1740 on land traced back to 1661 and its original owner, William Penn mortgaged 1000 acres of land to William Rowland in 1681 who sold it to Thomas and Mary Dutton in 1682. In 1895, the house and property were sold to the Sisters, who made additions to the house both during the 1800’s and most recently in 1984.
WHAT CLARE HOUSE OFFERS
Its Franciscan hospitality offers:
First floor kitchen, sitting room, library, and enclosed porch/dining room.
Second floor chapel with windows opening to the woods.
Six private bedrooms (linens and towels included) on second and third floors with a common bath on each floor.
For an additional cost a continental breakfast, light lunch and/or a simple supper can be arranged, but you are welcome to do your own cooking.
The contemplative space
Clare House provides contemplative space for persons of any faith who desire to deepen their relationship with God.
Individuals can come:
for a day
Spiritual Direction is available for those who wish at an additional cost if pre-arranged.
Directed Prayer Weekends
A directed prayer experience is an opportunity for individuals to spend some time with God in a personal way.
As well as enjoying an atmosphere of prayerful silence, each person meets with a spiritual director daily to share what happened in his/her prayer and dialogue with God.
It is an occasion similar to the type that Jesus offered the disciples in the midst of their busy lives.
This guided retreat opportunity invites participants to pray with a theme of the season as it relates to their daily life experiences.
Participants may come for the day, overnight, or the entire weekend.
The time will include a brief input session on Saturday morning, questions for reflections and a concluding prayer together.
The rest of the weekend allows time for contemplative silence.
These mornings of contemplation will be a time of quiet gazing at Christ and His presence in our lives.
Each morning is introduced with an individual theme for entering into this quiet time.
Contemplative Mornings are available the second Wednesday of each month from October until May.
The cost is $20 for each month.
Private Group Retreats
Clare House is available for a group desiring contemplative space for group sharing.
The Group can bring their own facilitators or a facilitator can be arranged for the group.
The group can be no larger than six if staying overnight.
Larger groups could be accommodated for one day.
Contact the Director of Clare House for specifics 610-558-5372.
From I-95 (North or South)
*Take Market Street Exit, Route 452 North toward Aston. At the 9th light (5-Point Intersection) make a left onto Concord Road. At the next traffic light, turn right onto Convent Road. The convent is ahead on your right. The parking lot is on the left side of the street across from the Motherhouse. Once parked, cross the road and follow “Entrance” signs to the convent.
From South or North on Route 1
**Turn onto Route 452 South to Glendale Boulevard (at Barnaby’s Restaurant). turn right and at the stop sign, turn right again onto Legion Road. Continue through the next stop sign when Legion Road becomes S. Convent Road.
From the PA Turnpike
Coming East, exit at Downingtown (Exit 312, Pottstown). Turn left at the end of the ramp and follow signs to 202 south (route 100 merges into 202 South). follow 202 South to Route 1 North. Continue with directions**above.
Coming West, exit at Mid-County (Exit 333). Following 476 South to the Lima/Springfield Exit 5. Go woard Lima and route 1 South. Continue with directions ** above.
From the New Jersey Turnpike or I295
From New Jersey Turnpike (taking Exit 2) or From Interstate 295 (taking the Commodore Barry Bridge Exit), follow 322 West and cross the Commodore Barry Bridge. Continue on 322 West to 452 North. Continue with directions * above.