By Ann Marie Foley - 10 November, 2014
Only an impoverished society can turn its back on the contemplative life, Bishop Denis Nulty has said.
He was speaking on the occasion of the election of Sr Rosario as new Mother Abbess to the Poor Clares in Graiguecullen.
In his homily last Thursday, Bishop Nulty said “On this the eve of the Year of Consecrated Life, I think it is very appropriate to reflect on the place of you the consecrated one in the larger society.”
“It is said that the lifespan of a religious order is around one hundred years, with the initial spurt of energy at its foundation. You the Poor Clares amongst a few others are an exception. I suggest the Year of Consecrated Life allows all of us an opportunity to refocus the spotlight of society on the quiet witness and example of you great people.”
He proposed that the community might think about having an Open Day during the coming year when people of the surrounding area, who he said love the Sisters deeply, can have an opportunity to call in and greet them.
Bishop Nulty said that the purpose of the year-long celebration of consecrated life was Pope Francis’ invitation to people “to make a grateful remembrance of the recent past, while embracing the future with hope”.
The Bishop offered each member of the community a saint, blessed, venerable or cause to continue accompaniment with each.
To Helen, a postulant, a newcomer to the monastery, he gave St John Paul II, a new saint.
To the new abbess, Sr Rosario, he offered St Monica, the patron saint of mothers, and the mother of St Augustine.
He cautioned that there is always the temptation to “rarefy” saints and place them on pedestals, “sometimes to the point of allowing a particular saint to displace Jesus as the centre of our Christian faith.”
He quoted Pope Emeritus Benedict who said “.. in the saints, one thing becomes clear: those who draw near to God do not withdraw from men, but rather become truly close to them”.
The Poor Clares are living in Graiguecullen in Co Carlow for over 100 years.
In the late 1800s, Bishop Foley made his first visit to the Vatican in Rome.
He was no sooner in the presence of Pope Leo XIII when the Pontiff asked the bishop if there was a contemplative order in his diocese.
Bishop Foley replied there was a community of enclosed Poor Clares but they were not properly established yet.
“Establish them and be good to them,” said the Holy Father.
In April 2012, a civic reception took place in Graiguecullen celebrating the 800th anniversary of the founding of Poor Clares and 119 years in County Carlow.
On that occasion, the Chairman of Carlow Town Council Cllr Tom O’Neill thanked the Poor Clares for their work on behalf of the Carlow people and leading by example and he expressed the wish that the Sisters would remain in Graiguecullen for another 119 years.