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Building at Glencairn caters for growing community

By Ann Marie Foley - 04 August, 2014

Renovation works part of expansion plan for community of Sisters and their monastic tradition of hospitality.

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The silence at St Mary’s Abbey Glencairn has been shattered by the commencement of a much needed renovation and building works project.

This community of nuns, whose abbey is based near Lismore, Co Waterford, has been featured in an RTE documentary ‘School of Love’.

The monastery has been home of the Sisters since 1932 so repairs are required.

But they have also found that they need to accommodate a growing membership.

“It involves updating and renovating, and bringing the standard up a bit for our newcomers. There is a lot of work to be done,” Mother Marie Fahy (Abbess) told CatholicIreland.net.

A number of novices have joined in recent years and the newest member’s final profession was featured in the documentary.

The community had been talking to builders to assess their future needs for some time.

The renovation and building planning application to Waterford County Council received approval in Autumn 2011, and fundraising has been ongoing since.

Funds have been raised but there is still a considerable amount required.

TV chef Nevin Maguire’s cookery demonstration, Liam Lawton and Noirín Ní Rían’s concert, and locals and friends and families have all helped raise funds.

“God is good. People have been most generous in these very difficult times when they have so little to spare. We are very grateful for all those who organise, and go to, events like concerts and coffee mornings,” said Mother Marie Fahy.

Sr Michelle with Bernie Maloney of Quinn Architects and Eamonn O'Gorman of Eamonn O'Gorman Construction Co

Sr Michelle with Bernie Maloney of Quinn Architects and Eamonn O’Gorman of Eamonn O’Gorman Construction Co

A new water supply, sewage system and heating which will run on miscanthus (elephant grass) that is grown on the monastery farm are just some of the basic upgrades.

The Sisters also hope to build new guest accommodation and a visitors’ centre which will facilitate the many day visitors.

Women’s groups, schools and communities all visit.

First Holy Communion classes are particularly interested in the communion bread-making facility at the monastery.

“If we have enough funding we would love to build the new guest house. That is an outreach activity for us and it would help facilitate the visitors and groups who come.”

“They join us for prayer and we sometimes give talks, so we need an area for that and to have tea and coffee – a visitors’ centre,” said Mother Marie Fahy.

The renovations and new buildings, the Sisters at St Mary’s Abbey hope, will help the community face the challenges to monastic life of the 21st century.

It will also help preserve their valued monastic tradition of hospitality and outreach while continuing to nurture the essentials of the cloister: the silence and monastic solitude from which an authentic life of prayer is fostered, the monastic’s gift to the Church and the world.

The renovation programme includes:
– upgrade of the accommodation wing in the Abbey enclosure.
– refurbishment of monastery guesthouse and provision of a new visitors centre.
– provision of a new facility for the community’s expanding greeting card business.
– improved fire safety, accessibility and general services to the monastery buildings.

All donations are welcome and details are available on the website. See: www.glencairnabbey.org

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