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Exclusive: Final vows for world’s 1st Montessori religious sister (Photos)

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Deborah Kates Photography

During a special Mass on January 6, 2024, Mother Chiara Thérèse professed her final vows and Sr. Lucia Rose received the holy habit of religion.

Theresa Civantos Barber - published on 02/19/24

Dr. Maria Montessori hoped a religious community would be established to carry out her work. It took 74 years, but at last her dream is realized.

In 1950, world-famous educator Dr. Maria Montessori wrote of her dream that someday a religious community would be established to carry out her work.

It only took 74 years, but at last her dream is realized. The world’s first-ever religious community whose primary charism is Catholic Montessori Education is established in Bismarck, North Dakota. 

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Even the name of this community fulfills Maria Montessori’s wish, as they are called “Servants of the Children of Light.”

The community is brand new, established a little more than three years ago. At present, the community is a Public Association of the Christian Faithful, looking toward becoming a religious order. There are two members, Mother Chiara Thérèse and novice Sr. Lucia Rose. 

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Sr. Lucia Rose, novice of the Servants of the Children of Light, takes the holy habit of religion.

On the feast of the Epiphany, January 6, 2024, during a special Mass, Mother Chiara Thérèse professed her final vows and Sr. Lucia Rose received the holy habit of religion. The Mass was a historic occasion for Catholic education, Catholic religious life, and Montessori education.

Besides images of the historic moment, Aleteia had the chance to learn more about the Servants of the Children of Light in an interview with Mother Chiara Thérèse. Here is our conversation.

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Mother Chiara Thérèse of the Servants of the Children of Light

What inspired the formation of your community?

The inspiration of the founding of this new religious community was the Holy Spirit! Whenever there is a need that arises in humanity, the Lord often brings about a new religious community to answer this need. We were canonically established on October 1, 2020, in the Diocese of Bismarck, North Dakota, as a Public Association of the Christian Faithful, in response to the universal cry rising up to the Heart of God to send laborers into the vineyard to serve Christ in the child. This community was established after a long period of discernment with our local Ordinary. 

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The ring, crown of flowers and the chart containing the formula for final vows for Mother Chiara Thérèse of the Servants of the Children of Light

What does your daily work look like?

As a bride of Christ, the primary work and concern of a religious sister is her relationship with her Divine Bridegroom. Therefore, prayer is given a place of primacy in our community, with the Divine Office, Rosary, Adoration and Lectio Divina. Our daily apostolate consists of work with the children at Christ the King Catholic Montessori School in Mandan, North Dakota. We end our day with a time of fraternity before Compline and Grand Silence. 

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Mother Chiara Thérèse of the Servants of the Children of Light

How would you describe your service to Christ in the Child?

Alongside professing the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience, the Servants of the Children of Light have a unique fourth vow: to honor Christ in the Child. This stems from Dr. Maria Montessori herself. 

As a devout Catholic, her whole method of education is imbued with Christian anthropology. She saw in the child a marvelous new creature, unique and wholly belonging to his Creator. To separate Montessori education from its Catholic roots inhibits the fullness of the method to take hold not only in the soul of the Montessori guide (teacher), but also in the soul of the child. 

Montessori education affords the child a deep respect, allowing him to fully become who God created him to be. Dr. Montessori said there is no room in the heart of a Montessori guide for pride, anger or impatience. She has set before her the task of helping the child to construct himself; to bring forth in him “man fully alive” which will then give glory to God (in the words of St. Irenaeus). 

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The special Mass for the Servants of the Children of Light

As Dr. Montessori said, the Montessori guide must be both a saint and a scientist. She must observe the child with a heart full of awe and wonder, lead the child to the proper materials in the prepared environment that will assist in his development and then purify her soul of anything that is not of God. 

What is the most important thing you want the world to know about your work and the Servants of the Children of Light?

The child today, especially the youngest, is often misunderstood by society as a whole. Their place within the social fiber of this adult-led world inhibits the proper development and formation of the soul. 

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Mother Chiara Thérèse of the Servants of the Children of Light

Catholic Montessori education desires to restore to the child that dignity and place within his family and society. By understanding in great detail the various stages of child development, affording the child freedom with limits and responsibility, and teaching social graces, Catholic Montessori education affords a method of formation that is integral and harmonious. 

We, as a religious community, desire to be a part of this noble work, as Dr. Montessori said, to assist the child in forming himself into the man he is to become. We are but instruments in the hands of Divine Providence, assisting the Creator in this ever more urgent task of honoring Him in the child. 

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ChildrenEducationMinistriesNuns
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