SAUK RAPIDS -- Poor Clare's first opened on top of a hill in Sauk Rapids in 1923. It's a convent for nuns who live their entire lives at one monastery and rarely leave its confines.

In 1923, a group of sisters from Wisconsin were looking for a place to live in solitude. At the time their Bishop in Wisconsin said the community was not ready to care for a contemplative community. They heard that Bishop Joseph F. Busch was looking to start a convent in central Minnesota.

On July 16th, 1924 ten founding sisters came to Sauk Rapids and saw St. Clare's Monastery on the hill. They've called the nunnery home ever since.

Today there are 18 sisters living in the Poor Clare's convent. They are only allowed to leave the monastery for extreme medical purposes and it's rare for them to allow any outsiders into their living quarters.

Sister Mary Peter Marthaler has lived a life of solitude in Sauk Rapids for about 67 years. She knew all but three of the founding sisters. Marthaler says it was the idea of a quiet and peaceful existence that drew her to the monastery.

"For some people it's very um...it makes them draw back. You know when the Lord calls, there's that yearning to be there with him...It starts with a call but it's between you and the Holy Spirit," says Marthaler.

She continues, "I love silence, and I love poverty...It was a desire. It was that calling that this is what God wants from you."

Each sister must go through a year's a postulate, two years of White Veil and make two solemn professions of vows that can only be dispersed by Rome.

Each sister wears a garb that is designed in the sign of the cross. Draped on the garbs are cords with four knots that symbolize the four vows they've made. The nuns wear sandles in the winter and go barefoot in the summer.

Sister Mary Marthaler says the sisters live a very simple existence, "we have simple meals and we don't eat meat."

The nuns are allowed to have family visits four times a year for three hours at a time. They don't typically watch television and only listen to radio during severe weather.

They have a full day which includes prayers, housework, recreation and mass. Their routine is the same each day except for holidays and Sundays. Marthaler says the women don't work on Sunday.

The monastery hasn't changed much over the years. Marthaler says, "to a certain extent it has to change because people change. Time changes. Culture changes. But, basically it's the same. But, it's somewhat adapted a little bit more."