By Ann Marie Foley - 28 May, 2015
As the Rose of Tralee gets underway, another rose initiative is encouraging young people in Ireland to join a tour of convents for the Year of Consecrated Life.
A new organisation, Rise of the Roses, blossomed from friendships formed through the Michaela Foundation inspired by the late Michaela McAreavey, who herself was a contestant in the Rose of Tralee.
“We really believe that Ireland is ready for a new generation of young women to hear and answer God’s call,” group founder Lisa O’Hare told CatholicIreland.net.
“We are so deeply grateful, and we just think they (religious) are amazing and we love what they are doing with their lives, because they have been hidden for so long. We want to both reinvigorate the sisters of today and inspire young girls of tomorrow.”
A core group hit on the idea of setting off on a summer tour and visiting ten convents on consecutive Saturdays from 13 June to 15 August.
They will begin their tour in Faughart (Co Louth) at the birthplace of St Brigid and conclude at Knock Shrine in honour of our Lady on the feast of the Assumption.
“Our hub has been in Ballygawley, Tyrone. So we are organising a bus from there and we expect 30-40 from our group at the first event. Then we are really hoping to engage with the local people in each area, and hoping for lots more (to attend) from each locality and from other (religious) orders,” said Lisa O’Hare.
She estimates there will be around 100 people at each of the 10 venues.
A large group is expected on 20 June at the Sisters of Adoration and Reparation in Belfast because schools and youth groups are getting involved.
“It will gain momentum as it goes on,” said Lisa O’Hare. She added that whilst not all participants will feel called to religious life they will have an experience of discerning God’s call. If they get married and have children, their experience will be passed on to the next generation.
“We see girls who are already are beginning to explore the possibility of a religious vocation in the short time that we’ve been going. We think it is a lovely refreshing way to explore that with their contemporaries.”
“Because you know what it is like in Ireland at the minute – you can feel a bit isolated in your faith – but we want to gather young people together and give them that support,” she explained.
The programme will vary according to the wishes of each religious community. For example the visit to the Redemptoristines in Dublin on 27 June will involve 4 or 5 other religious communities at St Alphonsus monastery for a full programme running from 9-5.
The Dominican contemplative nuns at St Catherine of Siena monastery are joining forces with the Franciscan Sisters of Renewal in Drogheda and other Dominicans for their day.
The 10 visits are open to families, people of all ages and men, although it has a ‘feminine feel’ to it according to Lisa O’Hare, as participants wear a special pink jersey and the logo for the event has roses at its centre.
In Galway the diocesan youth ministry has been spreading the word and “wearing the (pink) jersey” at all diocesan events.
They have been supporting the tour by working with young people to organise the visit on 8 August to the Poor Clares in Galway city.
“They really like the idea of this summer tour as being something really different,” Youth Ministry Co-Ordinator, Maura Garrihy told CatholicIreland.net.
Young people of transition year age (16-18) have prayer cards and have been watching the promotional video. Many have already given a commitment to attend.
“They are really excited about meeting the sisters and hearing about their way of life,” said Maura Garrihy.
“We will get to hear about the sisters own faith journey and maybe how they came to terms with their own vocation and what advice they can give to girls present who might feel drawn to that way of life.”
They will conclude the afternoon with a barbecue.
“The Poor Clare Sisters are an enclosed order, so this is something really special as it is one of their ways of meeting young people without having to leave the convent,” she said.
One of the schools in Galway city has taken on a social media project to help promote the event. Some young people may also join the tour to visit some convents or to go to Knock.
The tour culminates in a celebration in Knock on 15th August with everyone invited ranging from families, to young people and male and female religious will be speaking.
Already overseas visitors from UK , Spain and elsewhere have expressed an interest in the Knock event and perhaps having a ‘Rose’ tour in their own countries.
Rise of the Roses Summer Tour 2015 goes to:
June 13 Poor Clares, Monastery of the Light of Christ, Faughart
June 20 Sisters of Adoration and Reparation, Belfast
June 27 Redemptoristine Sisters, Monastery of St Alphonsus, Dublin
July 4 Dominican Contemplative Nuns at St Catherine of Siena Monastery and Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal, Drogheda
July 11 Sister Disciples of the Divine Master, Athlone
July 18 Carmelite Sisters, New Ross
July 25 Cistercian Sisters, St Mary’s Abbey, Glencairn
August 1 Salesian Sisters, Fernbank, Limerick
August 8 Poor Clares, Galway
August 15 Knock Shrine