Both the Poor Clares in Galway and the Adoration Sisters in Belfast are celebrating the arrival of two new members to their respective communities.
New postulant Gráinne McElwee, a finance graduate from Northern
Ireland, who worked with the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools
(CCMS) in the diocese of Down and Connor, joins novice and former BBC
journalist Martina Purdy as well as former lawyer Elaine Kelly.
Meanwhile, in Galway, the Poor Clares have been celebrating 375 years
in the city as well as the arrival of new postulant Sr Clare Marie of
the Holy Trinity.
She cannot be identified as the community wish to give the young woman “the fullest possible freedom” to discern her calling.
According to the Poor Clares, the reception ceremony for Sr Clare Marie of the Holy Trinity was “very moving”.
“It is always touching to witness the generous self-offering, as a
person gives themselves over to the Lord in love. A particularly
poignant part of this ceremony is when the person’s hair is cut,
symbolising their consecration to God, in imitation of the way St
Francis cut St Clare’s hair.”
The Poor Clares trace their roots back to Venerable Mary Ward
(1585–1645), the Englishwoman who founded the Loreto Sisters and the
Congregation of Jesus. In Gravelines in Flanders she made her very first
foundation for an English-speaking community of Poor Clares in 1609.
That seed has survived down four centuries to the Nun’s Island community in Galway.
Last Thursday week, Pope Francis celebrated Mass for the Feast of the
Presentation of the Lord and commemorated the 21st annual World Day for
In his homily, the Pope told consecrated women and men that they have inherited a hymn of hope from their elders.
“We are heirs to the dreams of our elders, heirs to the hope that did
not disappoint our founding mothers and fathers, our older brothers and
sisters. We are heirs to those who have gone before us and had the
courage to dream. Like them, we too want to sing, ‘God does not deceive;
hope in him does not disappoint.’ God comes to meet his people,” the
Jesuit Pope said.
Urging religious men and women to take up the dreams of their elders,
“so that we can prophesy in our day and once more encounter what
originally set our hearts afire”, he said this attitude would make them
“Most importantly, it will protect us from a temptation that can make
our consecrated life barren: the temptation of survival. An evil that
can gradually take root within us and within our communities.”
He warned that the mentality of survival “makes us reactionaries,
fearful, slowly and silently shutting ourselves up in our houses and in
our own preconceived notions. It makes us look back, to the glory days –
days that are past – and rather than rekindling the prophetic
creativity born of our founders’ dreams, it looks for shortcuts in order
to evade the challenges knocking on our doors today.”
The Argentinian Jesuit continued, “A survival mentality robs our
charisms of power, because it leads us to ‘domesticate’ them, to make
them ‘user-friendly’, robbing them of their original creative force. It
makes us want to protect spaces, buildings and structures, rather than
to encourage new initiatives. The temptation of survival makes us forget
grace; it turns us into professionals of the sacred but not fathers and
mothers, brothers and sisters of that hope to which we are called to
bear prophetic witness.
“An environment of survival withers the hearts of our elderly, taking
away their ability to dream. In this way, it cripples the prophecy that
our young are called to proclaim and work to achieve.”