IEC2012: From Ireland’s cloisters a prayer for Congress

Over the past few months, in the silence of an ancient Abbey nestled amid the woodlands and waterways of Ireland’s Blackwater Valley, a community of 35 nuns have been praying and working towards Congress. They are Ireland’s only community of enclosed Cistercian women religious from St Mary’s Abbey, Glencairn and they have been given the task of producing the 250 thousand Eucharistic breads for consecration at the Masses that will be the focal point the 50th International Eucharistic Congress, taking place in Dublin, Ireland June 10-17 next. In their own way and according to their specific charism, they are answering the call to Congress, to “Communion with Christ and with one another”. Listen: “We feel very, very privileged to work towards the Eucharistic Congress”, says Sr. Fiachra Nutty, a former horticulturalist and late vocation to the Order, who hopes to make her solemn profession later this year. “Our whole existence here revolves around the Eucharistic celebration, and being an enclosed order we don’t leave the premises, we are very focused on God and His presence here with us”. It’s no surprise as then that this Community was chosen by IEC2012 organisers to produce the hosts for the June Congress. The breads themselves, Sr. Fiachra, reveals will only have two ingredients: a special altar-bread flour and Glencairn’s own pure spring water. “We are making them in a variety of sizes”, says Sr. Fiachra, “we have discovered that Cathedrals require a very large host, and then all the sizes down to what we call the people’s host”. She continues: “Our whole focus here as Cistercians is to make life as simple as possible and focused on God” she continues, “so we tend to steer away from making them ornate in any way. But the difference with the bread that we make here is that it is more substantial than breads you will find elsewhere. In other words the hosts are just that other bit thicker. The idea is following the general instructions of the Roman Missal dating back to the renewed liturgy of Vatican II, it was suggested that we should try to produce hosts that are large enough to be broken and shared”. In fact the Congress theme The Eucharist: Communion with Christ and with one another, has its roots in the Vatican II Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, (Lumen Gentium). The ecclesiology of Vatican II is an ecclesiology of communion and in a world in which many forms of community have collapsed, the Church not only is communion, but also has, as an essential element of her mission, the task of proposing, building-up and sustaining forms of community. “Are whole being here over the past couple of months has been focused on praying for the fruits of the Congress because it’s no news to anybody that our Church is experiencing great difficulties. But we really do see this congress as a means to build up the Church again. We’ve also with great joy learned the hymn for the Congress so we are spreading the message in song. We also have the joy of being able to follow all the events on line. So we feel we are very much a part of Congress albeit that we do observe our rules of enclosure quite strictly. But nevertheless in spirit and prayer we will be joined with the wider Church”.