I mentioned yesterday that I was going to Dublin for the reception of Sarah Kelly into the Redemptoristine Order (Red Nuns).
It was a lovely, if not bitter-sweet experience and I was glad to be there to share it. Along with Sarah’s parents, Tommy and Bernie, were her sisters, niece, some of her uncles and aunts, two of her close friends from Ballaghaderreen, some clerical students and myself. We assembled in the parlour/greeting area of the Monastery and one of the Redemptorist priests, Fr Michael Cusack, welcomed us all. At the appointed time, Sarah knocked on the Monastery door and it opened immediately. The Prioress, Sr Gabrielle, asked Sarah what she desired and she said she wanted to serve Jesus Christ, come to know him more deeply and to enter the Community. Sr Gabrielle embraced her as did all the other sisters present. The door was closed and we went to the Monastery Chapel and waited.
A short while later, Sarah was led into the chapel under the shadow of the Crucifix and her way prepared by the other sisters in the Community. Fr Michael shared a gospel passage and some well chosen words and there followed some simple intercessions for the Church and world – a reminder to me, that the prayers of this Monastery are not hindered by walls or enclosure. The thoughts and prayers of the Sisters are certainly rooted in the world’s needs.
Following the prayers we joined Sarah and the Community for their evening meal. There was neither rush or pressure. People just talked and met with one another. One of the Sisters told me she’s sixty-six years in the Community and a happier woman you’d find difficult to meet. There are some younger sisters there too – not much older than Sarah and I was happy about that – not just for her, that she’d have people close to her in age, but also that God’s Call is being heard and responded to up to this moment in time. May God reward all in the Community who have heard and responded. The Sisters are from a variety of countries and that too brings its own flavour to the place.
We parted company with Sarah around 7.30pm. It just seemed the natural thing to do. I know there was sadness – parting always brings that – but the overriding feeling was one of seeing someone content and at home with a decision.
Certainly it was a special way to spend Easter Sunday. On my way home it dawned on me that twenty-seven years ago on the same date (March 31st) I was ordained a deacon in Maynooth. It was a happy connection to make and I hope that I can share that date and anniversary with Sarah for many years into the future.