Nuns, known as "the Pink Sisters," have worked in shifts for nearly 120 years to ensure nonstop prayer in Philadelphia's Chapel of Divine Love, reports Associated Press. The rose-hued habits symbolize the joy the Roman Catholic Holy Spirit Adoration sisters feel honoring the Holy Spirit. The order was founded in Holland in 1896 to focus on the perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. There also are three other U.S. convents - in St. Louis, Mo.; Corpus Christi, Texas; and Lincoln, Neb.
According to the nuns' website, their way of life "points to the basic truth God alone is the true center of being and the goal of all creation, that he alone can satisfy the human heart, and that every good and every success on this earth are His free gifts."
While there used to be 40 nuns living in the Philadelphia convent, now there are 20. The youngest is 52, and the oldest is 90, according to AP.
In 1915, nine of the original sisters left the motherhouse and came to Philadelphia, where they opened the order's second convent. Today there are about 420 Holy Spirit Adoration sisters living in 22 convents in 12 countries: Argentina, Brazil, Germany, India, Indonesia, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Poland, Slovakia, Togo, Chile and the United States of America.
Faced with shrinking numbers, the sisters began quietly reaching out beyond their confines, seeking to grow their order while carefully maintaining their secluded life. They now invite external people to join their daily public Masses, and allow Catholic women's organizations and schools to speak to the sisters - with all conversations taking place through the grille in the convent visiting room.
Sister Maria Clarissa, 55, told AP they rarely reached out for vocation promotion before the centennial. "But now we want young ladies to see how beautiful the life is and how truer the joy when it is without the trappings of material things. We do our part in addressing these challenges, but at the same time, we leave it to the Lord. He's the one who calls."
Their "cloistered life" is centered on the Eucharist, according to their own descriptions, keeping prayerful vigil on behalf of the entire world.
During the day, each sister has a 30-minute adoration period before the Blessed Sacrament, and one hour for personal prayer and spiritual reading. Each one also takes part in nocturnal adoration.
They cite a reason to consider joining their order is that it is "an introduction to the world, not a separation from it...On the fringe of the world, it is noisy, cluttered, confused and complicated. To find its center you leave the fringe and begin a pilgrimage into a quiet world where God can speak in silence."
Requests for Mass cards and prayers can be made online from the Adoration sisters.
Their favorite prayer for a New Year is: "Dear Father, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. We lose ourselves in awe before the unmeasurable majesty you possess. As we measure a small bit of time in this New Year that is just beginning, we can remember that a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday. Nevertheless we can place this New Year before you, being promised that each moment of time your care continues. In the days to come may we serve in faithfulness and in honor. Keep us in the abiding grace of Christ, so that when our days terminate in the fullness of eternity, we may be among your saints forever. This we ask in the name of Christ Jesus Your Son and our Lord, Amen."