The Bishop of Down and Connor has said an order of nuns who are leaving their north Belfast monastery after nearly 90 years “will be sadly missed”.
Noel Treanor said the Poor Clare Sisters will leave behind “an invaluable legacy of prayerful support and a sense of the closeness of God — especially in turbulent times”.
The order, based at the Monastery of Our Lady and St Michael on the Cliftonville Road, had dwindled to only five members — two elderly Irish sisters, Sr Paschal and Sr Mary — and three Filipina nuns.
The Irish sisters will be relocated to other Poor Clare monasteries in Ireland, while the others will return to the Phillipines.
A seminary which is currently based in St Malachy’s College on the Antrim Road will now be relocated there.
“From within the enclosure of their monastery, they (the sisters) have constantly reached out in support of those who came to visit them,” said Bishop Treanor.
“The sisters have modelled a spiritual joy and sense of peace which are the fruits of a life of contemplative dedication.”
Following a strict daily routine that has remained relatively unchanged for centuries, the sisters have each dedicated their lives to prayer. They each taken a series of vows including chastity, obedience, enclosure and poverty.
A mass was held recently to mark the closure of the monastery.