Development and Change
As with all foundations, the initial years were especially challenging; much poverty, hard labour, the establishment of a poultry farm with pedigree Light Sussex hens, selling eggs, chickens, day old chicks, working in the fields and garden, milking a small herd, later the planting of an orchard and plots of blackcurrant bushes, and selling pots of jam and honey in the Mt. Melleray shop, all efforts to make us self-sufficient. In the meantime, the community increased and flourished and by 1949 responded to a request from cardinal Cushing of to make the first Cistercian foundation for women in the United States at Mount St. Mary’s, in Massachusetts.
Before Vatican II Council in the early 1960’s, for some centuries, little change had occurred in the very strict Cistercian way of life. However, the Vatican Council urged Religious Orders to return to their origins and embrace ‘the signs of the times’. English language hymns and translations gradually replaced most the Latin Gregorian chants for Mass and the Divine Office. Also our, until then, small enclosure, was opened up to allow walks in our woods and down by the river – we are blessed with beautiful surroundings.
Later the rules for enclosure had to be somewhat relaxed to allow Sisters to go out for Study Courses, business matters, medical appointments and necessary shopping. Adaptation to the ‘outside’ world was necessary – the dentist, optician, and vans from shoe shops, all stopped coming! The creative gifts, aptitudes and abilities of each Sister are appreciated and utilized.
In 1982 the community at Glencairn made a second foundation in Nigeria with the founding of St. Justina’s monastery in Abakaliki.