Sister Ann Case, Order of the Community of the Paraclete, has been a member of Holy Trinity since 1972. She has been active at Holy Trinity through the years, and currently she serves as a calicifer. Her vestments are distinctive – a bright red scapular over a white hooded alb.
About thirty years ago, Ann associated herself with the Order of St. Helena, an Episcopal order with its mother house (at that time) at Vails Gate, New York. Ann had been seeking something beyond her church life, and the women of this group provided support and guidance. Commitments to work and family kept Ann from becoming a full member of the order at that time. She became a lay associate of the Order and continued that association for twenty-five years, visiting their convents and attending their round of services.
Years later, when Ann could consider making a deeper commitment to community life, she was too old to be a member of St. Helena’s. About becoming a Paracletian, Ann says: “I discovered this group online (www.theparacletians.org ). The first thing that attracted me was a statement of their vision. In part this reads, ‘The Paracletian Community: values every person as a unique image of God; welcomes diversity; listens; communicates openly and honestly; encourages all members to participate fully as partners.’ They welcome inquiries from male and female, young and old, married and single. They were a good fit with my circumstances at that time.”
The Standing Committee on Religious Orders of the Episcopal House of Bishops recognizes The Order of the Community of the Paraclete as a Religious Community. It has a history going back to 1971. Currently the members live in their own houses and gather, if possible, in local Chapter meetings. The current mission of the Community is “to represent Christ and his Church as members of a supportive Christian fellowship; to bear witness to the Holy Spirit; and to exercise our diverse gifts for ministry in the work of reconciliation, especially among the poor. We seek to deepen our relationships with God and others through life in a Christian community and to discern God’s will for us as uniquely gifted individuals. The Community emphasizes active participation in Community and parish life.” (www.theparacletians.org).
In December, 2005, Ann applied to be a Friend of the Order: “I sent my religious history and spiritual autobiography. From this time on I read from a bibliography recommended by the order, with study guides; continued to keep a spiritual journal; submitted written reflections on scripture; made a personal Rule of Life and explored in writing my personal values. My history with the Education for Ministry (EFM) program here at Holy Trinity helped considerably in this process. In June of 2009 I took my first yearly vows as a full member of the Order. Vowed members follow a Rule that includes the Daily Office, simplicity of lifestyle, fidelity to commitments, and obedience to God.
“I can take my vows for a year at a time for the rest of my life. After three years of yearly vows, and with the permission of the Community, I can take life vows if I choose. Reading, study and reflection will continue. I will add discernment of ministry. This study and discernment will continue throughout my career as a sister.
Revisiting and Revising of my Rule of Life and ministries will continue – as I live into and learn to stretch and go beyond my current vision of what this life can mean for me, for the local church, and for the Community. The possibilities before us, with God’s help, are endless!”