Your Eminence, Bishop Moriarty, Monsignor Byrne , Rev. Frs. and all our dear friends.
800 years have passed and with grateful thanks to Almighty God, Poor Clares throughout the World celebrate and bless this historic and wonderful anniversary of our founding by St. Francis and St. Clare. In humble gratefulness we celebrate the selfless giving of all our Sisters throughout the Centuries, the giving of their lives to live in Community praying for the needs of the local Community, the needs of the Church and the needs of the wider World.
To quote from Verbi Sponsa – Vatican Document “Since those who become the absolute property of God, become God’s gift to all, the life of Nuns is truly a gift set at the heart of the mystery of ecclesial Communion…. a Contemplative Monastery is a gift also for the local Church to which it belongs, representing what is most intimate to a local Church – its heart, where supplication and thanksgiving rise unceasingly”.
800 years ago St. Clare thought of her Sisters as “co- workers with God and a support for the frail and failing members of His Glorious Body.” This is our vocation as Poor Clares and we rejoice in it.
Shortly after St. Clare left home her story spread far and wide in the World. While continuing to remain enclosed, Clare’s light began to shine all round and her well deserved praises made her well known. The fame of her virtues filled the houses of illustrious women, reached the palaces of duchesses penetrating finally into the rooms of queens. The upper nobility vowed to follow her footsteps. So it was that young women from every walk of life were inspired by St. Clare’s ideals. Innumerable cities, towns and even the countryside and mountainous regions were adorned with Monasteries.
Each Monastery has its own history and we have ours. When the Poor Clares arrived in Carlow they spent 7 years in the house on the bridge. When Mr. Governey bought the site for our present Monastery, the nuns moved into it in 1900. Then in 1906 no less than 8 sisters went on to set up a new foundation in Dublin and they in turn set up other foundations. Encouraged by this success 8 years later five more sisters went from our Monastery here in Carlow to set up a foundation in Cork, who in turn set up other foundations and so the order has continued to spread. Today there are over 20 thousand Poor Clares worldwide.
The question now is how relevant are we the Poor Clares today in the third millennium? Well in the words of Blessed Pope John Paul II “Never was the Contemplative Vocation more relevant or more precious than in our modern restless world when the future of the church and the future of humanity depends on prayer”. To quote Pope Benedict XVI “Contemplative Communities are called to be a type of “Spiritual Lung” for the World so that spiritual respiration is not strangled by the bustle of cities.”
Prayer is not just one other activity of our day, there are certainly set times for prayer, but the overflow carries into every other moment of our lives, making all our day a prayer. It is in the Liturgy that prayer is most powerful, since it is the prayer of Jesus offering himself to the Father in adoration, praise, thanksgiving and reparation on behalf of all mankind. Its fountain is the Mass where we are renewed and strengthened each morning to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice throughout the day. We gather 7 times each day for the Divine Office continuing the prayer of Jesus praising the Father. Eucharistic Adoration is the centre of our Poor Clare life – a precious heritage from our founders and a cherished privilege of our Monastery here in Graiguecullen.
Sts. Clare and Francis have done what is theirs to do, now we ask them to inspire and accompany us as we follow Him who is for us the way, truth and life and to fulfil what Francis said in San Damiano. “There will as yet be ladies here who will glorify our heavenly father throughout His Holy Church by their celebrated and holy manner of life”
We thank His Eminence for honouring us with his presence; we also thank Bishop Moriarty, Monsignor Byrne, and all the Clergy for taking time out from their busy schedule to be with us here today. We would like to thank each of you for coming to celebrate with us on this very special occasion.