DENVER An order of cloistered Roman Catholic nuns won approval from a Denver suburb to build a higher fence to prevent people from entering their property to harass them, the Sisters' advocate said on Friday.
The Discalced Carmelite Nuns of Colorado asked the city of Littleton to add two feet to a six-foot fence after several incidents in the last two years of people scaling the walls and trespassing on the monastery grounds, said Mike Kisting, who made the request on behalf of the Sisters.
In one instance, a man clambered over the fence onto the 13-acre property, which the order has owned since 1947, and chased one of the nuns who had to flee and seek refuge inside a building, Kisting said.
"I can't fathom why a person would want to do that," said Kisting, the founder of a Catholic hospice, who volunteers to help the nuns. "He was lucky I wasn't there that day."
The Discalced Carmelites are among the Catholic Church's strictest contemplative orders, requiring them to spend their days in prayer and devotion, with little speaking and to live "a life of complete self-sacrifice," according to their website.
The nuns are not allowed to see outsiders, or vice versa, except in rare circumstances, and the ongoing harrying forced the 11 Sisters who live there to sequester themselves in more remote areas of the grounds, Kisting said.
He said the Littleton Board of Adjustment unanimously approved the request on Thursday night, to the cheers of about five dozen people who showed up in support of the Sisters in what is typically a sparsely-attended meeting.
One of the Sisters, who did not wish to be identified, said by telephone there have been instances where the nuns had to call the police when trespassers entered their enclosure.
"If a man comes over the wall, he probably doesn't have good intentions," she said.
Kisting said the higher fencing will allow the nuns, more than half of whom are over the age of 76, to tend to their gardens, which he said at times has been littered with beer cans. He said when women commit to the order, they never leave, and are buried on the grounds when they die.
(Reporting by Keith Coffman in Denver; Editing by Curtis Skinner, Bernard Orr)
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