Monday 14 October 2019

Nuns hopeful they can stay in their Cork home despite claims it was 'entirely unauthorised'

Sister Anne Marie of the Sacred Heart, Order of Carmelites making public Profession of Simple Vows as a Carmelite Nun at Holy Family Carmelite Hermitage, Corran South, Leap, Co Cork. with Mother Irene Pic Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision
Sister Anne Marie of the Sacred Heart, Order of Carmelites making public Profession of Simple Vows as a Carmelite Nun at Holy Family Carmelite Hermitage, Corran South, Leap, Co Cork. with Mother Irene Pic Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

Ralph Riegel

TWO Carmelite nuns are hopeful that they will be able stay in their rural Cork hermitage home despite being taken to court over an alleged breach of planning laws.

Cork County Council has objected to their dwelling at Corran South near Leap, West Cork, amid claims that it was “entirely unauthorised.”

At a sitting of Skibbereen District Court, Judge James McNulty was told that the local authority had received complaints from the public about the  two-storey cladded building near Leap.

The structure comprises of a wooden chapel, a wooden shed and a timber fence as well as cells.

Mother Irene Gibson, who has spent almost thirty years living as a consecrated hermit, said that they did "regretfully rock the boat" by erecting a two-storey modular building.

"It was not my intention to put that up in that I thought when I was buying it it was not visible from the road. When I saw that it was very high I was very unhappy," she said.

The Dublin-born nun said that if she and fellow nun, Sr Annemarie, have to leave they will immediately do so.

But it is hoped some kind of compromise can be reached.

"I will miss it. Of course I love my own country but if we have to go to ends of the world and that is God's will so be it," she told Virgin News.

Meanwhile, Sr Anne Marie, formerly Hannah Loeman, who professed her vows of obedience, chastity and poverty on Monday, said that that joining the Carmelite order was the realisation of a dream.

"It is is all I dreamed of to be at last in this order of Carmel. I just think of our Lord when he was brought before the courts. He was brought before Pilate. I take courage from that," she said.

Sr Annemarie, who is twenty and from New Zealand, explained that they live in individual cells where they spend much of their time.

They pray, eat and read in their cells and live a simple life.

Sr Annemarie decided to join the order because of its devotion to our Lady and reading about the life of St Teresa.

The nuns pray in common in Latin.

However, when they pray in private, they have a choice of Latin or English.

Solicitor for the nuns, Letty Baker,  told the court that where they live is very basic.

She said that the buildings are solely used for religious purposes.

The case has been adjourned until December 10.

Judge McNulty has urged other orders in West Cork to offer the nuns a new home.

The nuns are part of the Carmelite Order of the Holy Face of Jesus.

On their website the nuns say that modern society has an "urgent need for contemplative prayer, for unending praise, adoration and supplication on behalf of a weary world."

They stressed that when contemplative religious work dedicates their lives to complete union with Christ, "a powerhouse of prayer " results.

  • More information on the order can be obtained here

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