Benedictine Monks Begin New Life in Meath
The decision by a community of Benedictine monks from Oklahoma to relocate to Meath is a tribute to the, “immense number of priests and religious who left their native Ireland to establish and serve the Church in the United States,” the newly arrived prior has said.
Speaking to ciNews, Dom Mark Daniel Kirby explained that the Monastery of Our Lady of the Cenacle, which was established during the Year of the Priest in the US Diocese of Tulsa by Bishop Edward J. Slattery, is now located in a monastery that formerly belonged to the Visitation Sisters in Stamullen, Co Meath.
He described the Benedictines' relocation as part of a monastic mission of renewal.
“Our little priory in Stamullen will begin with a tiny nucleus and, please God, it will develop and grow there. More than one monastery has begun with the evangelical ‘two or three’ gathered in the Name of Christ,” he said.
Bishop Michael Smith of Meath, who gave the green light to the community to come to Ireland last October, confirmed to ciNews that the initial leasing of the premises is for just under five years. At the end of that period, future direction on the group should be clearer.
The relocation of the community is being seen as part of the support of the Irish Catholic diaspora in the US and Canada for a, “wounded” Irish Church, which is also evident from the numbers from the two countries that are already registered to attend the International Eucharistic Congress in June.
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, President of IEC2012, confirmed during the week that 1,000 Canadians have so far registered. The Benedictine community from Oklahoma arrived in Ireland on the February 29 and it includes two monks of Irish descent.
“I descend from stalwart Leitrim and Cavan people on my father’s side, and Brother Benedict descends from good Mayo stock. We look forward very much to taking root in the homeland of our forefathers,” the Prior, Dom Kirby, said.
He explained that they are currently working with four candidates who are currently discerning a vocation with the community, two of whom are Irish and two are American.
We have, “no grandiose pretensions,” Dom Kirby said and added that they intend to begin “humbly, quietly and discreetly.”
“We are coming to Co Meath to do there what monks do everywhere: to be hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3), and to persevere in prayer as the apostles did with Mary the Mother of Jesus in the Cenacle (Acts 1:14),” he said.
He explained that the community currently does not belong to the international Benedictine Confederation. However it is, “in conversation with one of the flourishing Congregations of the Confederation" and looks forward to its, "incorporation pleno jure into that Congregation very soon. Belonging to a Congregation of the Confederation will afford us the benefits of a wider Benedictine context,” the Prior said.
Dom Kirby said the relocation to Ireland was born of a desire to support, “the refreshment, sanctification, and consolation” of many Irish seminarians and priests, “persevering heroically in a critical social context of humiliation, hostility from the media.”
Bishop Smith paid tribute to the community’s focus on Eucharistic adoration and spiritual support for priests. The Irish diaspora’s support for the contemporary Irish Church was highlighted by the new Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Charles Brown, at the liturgical reception at St Mary’s Pro Cathedral in Dublin to mark his appointment last month.
There, he described himself as, “the descendent of men and women of Ireland, who emigrated from this island, possessing little more than the treasure of their Catholic faith.” He added, “Were it not for the faith of Ireland, I would not be a Catholic today.”
by Sarah Mac Donald