Exclusive extract from ‘A Year in the Life – Glencairn Abbey: Charting the daily lives of the only enclosed Cistercian Monastery for women in Ireland‘ with photos by Valerie O’Sullivan
One of seven children, I grew up in a happy rural Catholic environment in Spiddal, Connemara, where there was an ancient and beautiful tradition of invoking, by ourselves or others, God’s blessings on our daily chores, and a prayer for every occasion. I experienced the love and support of my parents throughout my childhood, and my earliest memory is listening to the consoling rhythm of the recitation of the family rosary as I lay in my cot at night.
I did not experience God’s call until late into my forties. I was both surprised and alarmed to experience an attraction for religious life at this mature stage of my life. I had a comfortable lifestyle; I worked in the Central Bank in Dublin and enjoyed a busy social life with a wide circle of family and friends. My long-term plan was to take early retirement and travel before settling down to a peaceful life in my native Connemara. But God had another plan for me!
I became more restless in this busy worldly existence as I advanced in years and I yearned for a more meaningful and simple way of life centred on God. For the first time I started to respond to this irresistible call deep within me, which led me to Glencairn. A radical change occurred in my life, as I renounced all my personal possessions and gave myself unsparingly to God.
I thank God each day for the gift of my vocation and for leading me to this peaceful and life-giving place. Throughout my life I have experienced the love and the care and the goodness of God and I want to repay this goodness by becoming a witness and a channel of His grace.
– Sr Mairéad