Prayer, reparation and praising God are the focus of a new Benedictine priory in Ireland, which focuses especially on reparation for the sins of priests.
“It was never our predetermined plan to come to Ireland,”
Silverstream Priory’s Father Benedict Anderson, O.S.B., told CNA. “But
we believe that, through circumstances that we could never have
foreseen, Divine Providence placed us here to play some sort of role,
however modest, in the life of the Irish Church.”
Silverstream Priory is the home of the Benedictine Monks of Perpetual Adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.
The priory is a former residence of the Visitation Sisters in
Stamullen, a village about 22 miles north of Dublin. It is believed to
be the first monastery established in Ireland’s County Meath since King
Henry VIII suppressed them.
“The Reformation, which was ruthlessly enforced in Ireland, dealt a
near fatal blow to the monastic life, and it almost seems as if certain
contemporary forces and trends are conspiring to finish it off
completely,” said Father Benedict, who hails from Colorado.
There are many Americans at the priory. The prior, Dom Mark Daniel
Kirby, is from Connecticut. Tulsa, Okla. native Dom Elijah Carroll also
comes from the U.S. The priory has a postulant from Toledo, Ohio and a
priest from the Archdiocese of St. Louis. One member is from County
Meath, while one novice is from Australia and another from Denmark.
According to Father Benedict, one of the glories of the Benedictine
order is that their sole reason for existence is “the lifelong search
for God in separation from the world, and the perpetual praise of God in
the Sacred Liturgy.”
The monk himself was baptized Catholic as an infant in 1980. Both his
parents came from very large Catholic families, but for various reasons
they became estranged from the Church and began practicing an
Evangelical, charismatic form of Christianity.
In his own words, Father Benedict “rebelled” against this upbringing
by seeking the depths of ancient Christianity. He became an Orthodox
Christian for his twenties and studied at an Orthodox seminary. He
returned to full communion with the Church “as a positive desire to be
in full communion with the principal Petrine See, ‘Old Rome’ (as the
Orthodox call it), the Church of my baptism.”
Dom Kirby and Father Benedict moved to Ireland in 2012 as the only
members of their Benedictine community, which began in Tulsa, Okla.
“I must say that we have been received very well, from the very
beginning until now,” Father Benedict said. “While there are of course
major differences, I feel very much at home.”
In Father Benedict’s eyes, contemporary Irish culture is heavily
Americanized, “sometimes for good but increasingly, I’m afraid, for the
The monk sees an “immense cultural shift” following the unprecedented
success of the Irish economy in the 1990s. He suggested this success
“had the downside of greatly accelerating the decay of Irish Catholic
faith and practice since the Second Vatican Council.”
The “horrors” of Ireland’s sexual abuse scandals by clergy gave an “incalculable blow” to the Church’s credibility, he added.
“This island was once dotted from east to west, north to south, with
monasteries. The heartbeat of the Irish people was the heartbeat of the
monastic round of prayer,” Father Benedict said.
Pope Benedict XVI’s 2010 Letter to the Catholics in Ireland noted the
role of monasteries in promoting Eucharistic Adoration and their
ability to revitalize priestly life through retreats.
“We have, as it were, our marching orders from the Holy See, and
while we cannot physically leave the cloister, we are dedicated to an
unseen, spiritual battle for the soul of this country, and specifically
for its priests,” Father Benedict said.
The monks dedicate their time and energies to prayer, Mass and the eight hours of the Divine Office.
“Our approach to the faith and the spiritual life relies to a great
extent on our study of the Scriptures (particularly the Psalter) and the
Church Fathers, both Eastern and Western,” the monk explained. “Our
monastic customs are thoroughly traditional, yet we are always aware of
St. Benedict’s spirit of moderation and adaptation to various
The Benedictines of Silverstream Priory have adopted the charism of
Mother Catherine-Mectilde de Bar, who founded the Benedictine Nuns of
Perpetual Adoration in the 17th century.
“Mother Mectilde established her particular Benedictine family to
adore the Blessed Eucharist in a spirit of reparation for offenses and
abuses committed against the Sacrament of Christ’s love,” Father
Benedict said. “As monks, however, we have a particular focus on
reparation for the sins of priests which, especially of late, have so
disfigured the Face of Christ in the eyes of the world.”
“Out of weakness and defeat, and yes, even sin and infidelity, can
come power and victory,” he continued. “May God hold our country close
once again to his Sacred Heart, beating in the Sacred Host.”
Bishop Michael Smith of Meath presided at the monastery’s canonical
establishment Feb. 25, saying he was “delighted to recognize the unique
presence of this new monastery.”
“Through their prayer, study and hospitality, the monks are ‘speaking
to the heart’ and their quiet witness is a reminder that the Lord
continues to provide the Church with new gifts and grace,” the bishop
said, the newspaper The Irish Catholic reports.