Benedictine Monastery Founded in Northern Ireland

Monks From France Among the New Community

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ROSTREVOR, Northern Ireland, JAN. 19, 2004 (Zenit.org).- The Benedictine Monastery of the Holy Cross has been founded as a sign of reconciliation in Northern Ireland.



The monastery's founders are five Benedictine monks of the Congregation of St. Mary of Mount Olivet, who left the Abbey of Bec, in France, to take the Rule of St. Benedict back to Ireland.

The day before Sunday's dedication of the monastery, George Carey, the former Anglican archbishop of Canterbury, preached at the celebration of vespers.

Carey told the Belfast Telegraph that he had maintained a keen interest in the project since he met and became friends with the abbot, Father Mark Ephrem Nolan, at the motherhouse in Bec, in the Normandy region, in 1993.

"It's a stunning achievement to establish this monastery in Rostrevor," he said. "It is a staging post, a small oasis in a beautiful land, and it will attract many people who want to hear the word of God."

The ceremony was attended by Catholic Archbishop Sean Brady of Armagh; Father Michelangelo Tiribilli, abbot general of the Benedictines; and other senior Church figures.

The two local bishops were also in the procession: the Church of Ireland's bishop of Down and Dromore, Harold Miller, and Catholic Bishop John McAreavey of Dromore.

The monks at Rostrevor were given land in 2000, and began raising funds, including issuing a CD of Gregorian chant music. The building work began in 2002 and has just been completed. In the meantime, the monks lived in a local convent.

The abbot, Father Nolan, is a Belfast native who spent several years in the home Monastery at Bec. There are four other monks at Rostrevor, all French.

The foundation decree of monastery states: "The aim of the Community of Holy Cross Monastery is to live the monastic life, according to the charism of our Benedictine Congregation of St. Mary of Monte Oliveto. Our particular mission is to contribute to reconciliation between Catholics and Protestants in a land marked by reciprocal violence and stained by the blood of Christian brothers and sisters."

See www.benedictinemonks.co.uk.