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Red nuns invite women to look at monastic life

By Susan Gately - 08 May, 2015

Redemptoristine chapel Dublin

Redemptoristine chapel Dublin

Next weekend single women interested in contemplative life will have an opportunity to experience firsthand what it feels like to be an enclosed contemplative nun.

The Redemptoristine sisters in Dublin hold a monastic weekend twice a year.

Beginning Friday 15 May 2015 at 3pm, those interested will join the sisters in prayer, work, lectio divina and experience the ‘great silence’ from 10pm each night of the weekend.

“It will give them a glimpse into our life,” Sr Monica Boggan told CatholicIreland.net. “If they like it they can then come back and spend a week or a month.”

Eighteen Redemptoristine sisters live in the monastery on St Alphonsus Road in the Dublin suburb of Glasnevin.

The sisters support themselves by making altar breads and candles, but most of their life gravitates around prayer.

Members of the public can join them in their prayer through a webcam in their oratory which can be accessed through their website: www.rednuns.com.

Over the weekend the women who are trying out monastic life will first be brought behind the enclosure for a cup of tea, before joining the sisters for evening prayer and mass in their beautiful oratory.

Supper is in silence, followed by recreation where the sisters play board games or bingo or tell their own stories of contemplative life. Afterwards there is night prayer.

Sr Monica Boggan

Sr Monica Boggan

On Saturday morning they will join the sisters for morning prayer, the divine office and a silent breakfast followed by a walk and a period of work.

“We normally clean the monastery on Saturday mornings – hoovering and dusting, but at that time there’ll be an opportunity for those on the weekend to see how we make the altar breads.”

Later there will be the opportunity for Lectio Divina (where they read the Gospel for Sunday, pray the Holy Spirit to guide their reflection and then share their own understandings), evening prayer and recreation.

On Sunday the women will have a moment with the prioress of the monastery, Sr Gabrielle Fox.

Sister Monica went on her own monastic weekend in April 2007 and says she knew from the moment she went into the monastery that the life was for her.

She spent a further week there in June 2007, and a month that summer before her definitive decision to enter.

She believes that to experience a monastic vocation weekend is of great value. “Even if they find it is not for them, it is not time wasted,” she says. “Nothing is ever wasted. It is enriching for us and enriching for them.”

Women interested in going on next weekend’s monastic weekend should log onto their website: www.rednuns.com and send a message to or ring Sr Gabrielle.

Usually the applicant will have to fill in a form with some details about themselves.

The weekend begins next Friday at 3pm and ends on Sunday at 1pm.

Monastic Vocation weekends happen twice a year, but if someone is interested and not free that particular weekend, the sisters will try to arrange something else.

“We feel we have to be available,” says Sr Monica. “If someone wants to come another time we’re open to that – within reason!”

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