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22 Deacons Meet with Their Brothers and with an Energetic Abbess in Ireland

22 Deacons Meet with Their Brothers and with an Energetic Abbess in Ireland

Rottenburg/Ireland 30th October, 2014

Mass with Archbishop Diarmuid Martin Mass with Archbishop Diarmuid Martin The Diocese of Rottenburg-Stuttgart has more than 300 permanent deacons, whereas in the Archdiocese of Dublin there are only 14 so far, with 16 candidates awaiting ordination. The first eight permanent deacons in Ireland were ordained three years ago by Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin. As part of a study and encounter journey led by Formation Coordinator Erik Thouet, 22 deacons from Rottenburg-Stuttgart and their wives had the opportunity to meet with their brothers in diaconate and with Archbishop Martin in Maynooth University near Dublin. They celebrated Holy Mass together and exchanged experiences. Thouet invited the Irish deacons to Rottenburg-Stuttgart.

In Kylemoore Abbey, the only Benedictine abbey in Ireland, the deacons from Württenberg met with 76 year old Abbess Maire Hickey. The Dublin born Irish woman had led the abbey of Burg Dinklagy in Westphalia and just as soon as she came back to her homeland she was entrusted by her sisters with the leadership of Kylemoore Abbey. While in Germany, the energetic nun had come to the public eye by leading a sit-down strike against the deportation of a Ukrainian family in 1997; in Kylemoore, together with her 10 sisters, she is opening a way into the future, “after a difficult time for the Church in Ireland” as she says. The cases of child abuse had plunged the Church on the Green Island in a difficult crisis even before the same happened to the Church in Germany.

Sr. Maire Hickey OSB Sr. Maire Hickey OSB “Religious of my generation, those who have not committed any such deeds, are deeply hurt and humiliated”, she assures the deacons. In the meantime, the government and the Church have worked out an effective protection programme for children and teenagers. However, the medium and long-term impact of the abuse scandal remains yet to be seen. “The scandal has brought about a huge breach of trust but something good can come from such failures as well.” It is time for the Church to recognise the signs of the times and help people to find sources of hope.
The sisters want to gradually turn Kylemoore Abbey, a former castle – and up to 2010 – a monastery school into an educational and spirituality centre in collaboration with, among others, some U.S. universities. Kylemoore Abbey has long been a tourist magnet: 250,000 people come annually to this castle on the lake with its renowned gardens. For these tourists also the sisters want to have more on offer than just sightseeing. For if the whole Island bears witness at each and every step for its Christian tradition, going back as far as the 5th century, of Kylemoore Abbey it is said that it is just a few steps away from heaven.

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