The last two nuns in a cloistered Catholic community in Portland are moving out of Maine.

In this archive photo from 2002, Sister Mary Jo ladles out cups of hot chocolate and serves cookies to visitors who hung Christmas wreaths for the nuns at the Precious Blood Convent in Portland. The two nuns who remain at the monastery will move next month to the religious order’s monastery in Manchester, New Hampshire.

The Sisters Adorers of the Precious Blood have lived in a monastery on State Street near Longfellow Square since 1934. The monastery originally housed 14 nuns, living in silence and prayer away from the world. But the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland announced Monday that the two remaining nuns will move next month to the religious order’s monastery in Manchester, New Hampshire.

“Through the witness of the Sisters Adorers of the Precious Blood, we can see that Jesus brings meaning and direction to our lives,” Bishop Robert P. Deeley said in a statement. “We are so grateful for the gift and beauty of the Sisters, who remind us that the Gospel is the guide for our lives and that Jesus is our companion as we strive to live in accord with his message. I know that Sister Mary Jo and Sister Theresa will continue to pray for the bishop, priests, and parishioners of the Diocese of Portland in their new home, and we will keep them in our prayers as well.”

The diocese did not elaborate on what prompted the move nearly 84 years after the Monastery of the Precious Blood opened in Portland. It is also not clear what will happen to the monastery itself. Property records show that the Sisters Adorers of the Precious Blood owned the property as of last year, and it was assessed at more than $960,000.

The religious order was founded in 1861 in Quebec. In 1934, seven nuns from Manchester purchased the William Pitt Fessenden House from the Diocese of Portland. It had been used as a school for girls and women who were taught by the Sisters of Mercy. The chapel at the property has long been open to the public.

“I think one blessing we have is that we can leave the chapel open. It’s a nice, peace-filled place,” said Sister Mary Jo, who arrived to the monastery at age 18 in 1961. “It’s so important to pray for people and just as they are because people will come to you and share with you in such a deep way, and you just have to accept everybody as they are.”

The Portland community has supported itself mostly through the sale of enrollment and Mass cards, which offer prayers for needs like a birthday or the death of a loved one. The diocese said the nuns in the monastery spend their days in both spoken and silent prayer, labor and some recreation.

The diocese will host a special Mass for the sisters at 2 p.m. Oct. 4 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception at 307 Congress St. A reception will follow in the parish hall at the nearby St. Peter Church at 72 Federal St.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.