Looking back at 2016

Christmas invites all of us to allow our inner spirit to stand on tiptoe as we seek the Lord Jesus who comes, comes, ever comes. May you and your family and loved ones experience the joy and peace of His Presence and know in your inner heart the gaze of His tender, indulgent and merciful love.

It has been a year of great advances and excitement in our ongoing building project here at Glencairn having moved into our new accommodation block here at the Abbey in August. In expressing our thanks and appreciation to all who have assisted in the realisation of works already so satisfactorily completed, we ask for your continued prayers and support as we proceed with further renovations to our monastery. Planning is currently underway for the construction of a new Abbey guesthouse and hospitality centre yet to come.

Throughout the year we have continued, alongside to our building works, to sustain our daily commitment to the monastic way of life with all the joys and challenges for growth that it brings us. There are many events and visitors that marked the year in addition to the liturgical seasons that have nourished us on our monastic journey. In March 2016 the superiors and delegates of our region of monasteries in the Cistercian order gathered at Mount Melleray Abbey for the Regional Meeting of the Isles. The Central Commission meeting subsequently took place at Mount St Joseph Abbey, Roscrea which Mother Marie attended in preparation for her facilitating role at next year’s General Chapter of the order in Assisi.

Sadly, we mourned the deaths of two community members this year, Sr John Baptist Fitzgerald, who died in April, and Sr Lelia Kehoe who died in July. Both sisters were in their early 90’s and saintly, hard working Cistercian nuns and in their final years bore the weight of suffering through illness with tranquil and peaceful hearts. Our simply professed Sisters Angela and Liz of Glencairn attended the annual junior course which took place this year also in Roscrea. This year their conferences focused on the Psalms, with valued input by Sr Nuala of Glencairn. Both simply professed sisters happily renewed their temporary vows in August of this year, and we have also been blessed with visits during the past year by some women discerning their vocation who we continue to pray for. Four gatherings took place of our lay associate group throughout 2016, facilitated by Sr Michele Slattery and three new members made their promises. We pray for them and for our sisters in formation as they continue their vocation journey.

Meanwhile, the community have also richly benefited in their ongoing formation from conferences here at Glencairn with Fr Benedict Hegarty OP on the Gospel of Mark. In August, we had further input from an outside speaker, reflecting on human development and biblical spirituality. Sr Maureen Cusick, a Sister of Notre Dame de Sion came from Jerusalem to teach and facilitate us on this subject. We were also blessed with a visit from our new Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan who celebrated Mass here with the community whom we enjoyed meeting afterwards to get to know each other. We also enjoyed seeing many of our fellow Cistercian brothers and sisters who visited Glencairn in 2016: Sisters Mary Ellen and MariaSther from Mount St Mary’s Abbey in Massachusetts, Dom Steele Abbot of Tarrawarra Abbey in Australia, Mother Magdalena of Donnersburg, Germany and our own Sister Eleanor who was able to spend a few weeks with us before returning to her studies in Canon Law in Canada.

Various fundraising events have also taken up time and energy this year and we are so grateful to those who have assisted us in making these gatherings happen; our very popular Harp Recital in the Abbey Church at Glencairn in June, and a very successful coffee morning in Dungarvan in September which happened through the hard work of many kind friends and neighbours….and some more events and projects at the planning stage for 2017. Thanks so much to all who supported these events and who have contributed enormously to our building fund. Be assured of our prayers for you throughout the coming new year.

With our warmest good wishes and prayers,

Abbess and community, St Mary’s Abbey, Glencairn.