Though it’s been over 800 years since the last time a new Benedictine monastery opened in the Rostrevor area of Northern Ireland, the monks of Holy Cross Monastery are not complete strangers to the region.
In the long Benedictine tradition of monasteries sending members of existing communities to found new monasteries, the first monks came to this corner of Ireland in 1183 from a monastery in Chester which in turn had been founded by monks from the Abbey of Bec in northern France. In 1983 another group of Benedictine monks came to Ireland—who also belonged to the Abbey of Bec. They formed a cella—a small presence of monks, living a hidden life of prayer, interceding for peace and the unity of Christians. The then Abbot of Bec, Dom Paul Grammont, spoke of their presence “as a gesture of communion with the suffering Church in Ireland.”
|HOLY CROSS Monastery.|
This group ended its activities in 1987 and withdrew from Ireland but held on to the hope that one day they would be able to return and set up a permanent foundation. They did return in 1998, first as guests in the former retreat center of the convent of the Sisters of Our Lady of Apostles a few miles away before building the new monastery, which they moved into the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2004. Their construction of a retreat center of their own is, says Dom Mark-Ephrem, superior of the monastery, “particularly significant; it manifests the community’s desire to build our monastery with and for the people. We hope that many will come to the Holy Cross Monastery to experience peace, healing, and reconciliation.”
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