During the past year visitors to Minsteracres will have witnessed a lot of building activity along the drive. The old workshop near the youth centre has been demolished and on its site something new has been built. It looks like a bungalow. In reality it is a small monastery which has become the home of two Passionist nuns.

The nuns belong to a branch of the Passionist family which goes back to the 18th century. The founder of the Passionists, St. Paul of the Cross, felt that a contemplative community of women would enhance the apostolic and pastoral ministry of the Passionists. The first community was established in the 1770s and more followed after that.

In 1963, nuns from the USA made a foundation in England and a community was established in Daventry, Northamptonshire. Belgian nuns supported this foundation and over the years a number of women from the UK joined the community. For many years they lived a quiet life of contemplation and prayer for needs of the world and ministry of the Passionists.

In 2005 the monastery had become too big. It was abandoned and the community dispersed. Some nuns moved to the grounds of Belmont Abbey. A couple of years ago mother Monica and mother Regina, the remaining members of the community, felt that the time had come to move from there and live closer to other members of the Passionist family. That is how they came to Minsteracres.

They bring with them another dimension of community life through their contemplative presence. I hope they will be an anchor, providing prayerful support to everything else that takes place here.

The monastery will be dedicated to Mary the Mother of Holy Hope. In the Passionist tradition Mary is honoured under that title. Mary is the mother of Jesus who is our hope. She gave birth to him and thus brought hope into our world. The scriptures present her as a model of discipleship for all who follow Christ and may inspire each one of us to be bearers of hope.

Bishop Seamus will bless the new monastery on 9 July, the official feast day of Our Lady of Holy Hope. May the new foundation bring blessings to the nuns and to those who live and minister at Minsteracres and all who visit this special place.