The Cistercians have always had an openness for friendship and sharing the Liturgy with those who come to us, but in recent years we are experiencing something new as regards the laity. The growth of lay associations with our monasteries was described by our previous Abbot General as “a new branch on the Cistercian tree” !
Many groups of people eager to have support in living their Christian calling and who have come in touch with the Cistercian way, have been formed; in the U.S.A., throughout Europe and elsewhere. They feel they can identify with our rule and way of life and find it brings balance to their daily living in so far as their situation allows. There is now a large international group of Cistercian lay Associates who meet from time to time and this group is overseen by a delegated person from the Abbot General’s council of our Cistercian Order.
Glencairn Lay Associates
Here in Glencairn we have a small group of Glencairn Associates. We have kept the number small partly because of limited space at present due to our current building works, but also to give personal attention and to accompany the members on their spiritual journey in so far as possible. We now have 16 members, both men and women, who can resonate with our spirit and charism and find help in trying to live according to Gospel values. Some help us in some voluntary work and are of great service to our community.
Our Associates have a simple programme, meeting here 4 times a year. They also make an annual retreat and they are welcomed when they need to come. They study the Rule of St. Benedict with guidance and try to imbibe its spirit and live by its values. They do some Lectio Divina daily and pray one portion of the Divine Office.
Our previous Abbot General, Dom Bernardo Olivera, advised us to look with courage and faith on the new paths being opened up by the Holy Spirit in the desire of lay persons wishing to enter ” the School of Love” that is, that they wish to engage in Gospel living according to Cistercian tradition and to have a concrete connection with us. But Dom Bernardo reminded us of Pope John Paul’s advice to discern with prudence and a prophetic sense the participation of the lay faithful in our spiritual family in the form of lay Associates. He said; “we welcome this movement once the identity of each group is clear, distinct and respected. We are closely united but we must always respect the differences between us. Our Associates are also witnesses of the Cistercian charism and their interest in monastic life encourages us to live it more faithfully.” – Dom Bernardo Olivera.
For information about our Lay Associate Programme please contact our Lay Associate Co-ordinator Sr Michele Slattery at [email protected]