My journey to Carmel took me by surprise and it was something I never looked for. I was a sister in an active order for almost twenty years. I loved my community and felt fulfilled nursing the elderly in their most precious years of life.

I made a directed retreat, which changed my life! I returned to work after the retreat not knowing what was to unfold before me!! A few days after the retreat I felt a great desire for a deeper prayer life and Carmel came to mind, St. Therese was not far from my thoughts. As time went on, I decided to contact the retreat priest. I made an appointment to see him, and went in fear and trembling! To my relief he told me to stay where I was and not do anything so drastic! I came home happy and continued to serve the Lord where I was.

However, the desire for Carmel would not go away. I knew no Carmelite Monastery in Ireland and I did my best to forget the whole idea. The Lord works in strange ways! One Sunday while on duty one of the patients gave me the Sunday Independent, I flicked through the pages and my eyes fell on an article ‘The Silent Service’ in the Carmelite Monastery, Roebuck, Dublin. What was this saying to me I wondered!

As the desire remained, I decided to talk to a priest friend, I showed him the article, and he told me to do something about it and to make contact with the Monastery and it might come to nothing. I wrote to Mother Prioress telling her my story. She replied immediately and invited me to visit and talk things over. I was warmly received by Sr. Brigid and after our talk three of the Community sisters came into the parlour, one of them said “send her back to the retreat priest”.

I made an appointment with Father and told him all that had gone on since my last visit. He was very kind and listened to all I told him, and said at this stage to go ahead until I was stopped. His prayer for me was- May the Lord guide you gently but firmly to make a right decision.

A ‘live in’ was arranged and I spent two weeks in the Monastery. I found the Community very friendly, warm and human! There was a serene and peaceful atmosphere about the place. The silence and solitude appealed to me and the grounds were spacious and peaceful.

After the ‘live in’ I returned and continued with my community life and duty. I did not rush into a final decision. After much prayer and discerning I wrote to Sr. Brigid and asked if she and the Community would accept me as I felt that this was what God was asking me to do. She replied and was very happy to welcome me to Carmel.

It was not easy leaving my community and family. I was encouraged by St Luke’s gospel “put out into the deep …. Ch. 5:4ff”. I have often been asked if I had any regrets. I am happy this is where the Lord wants me. Thank God for all the help and encouragement I received from my family, my former Community and Congregation to enable me to follow the Lord’s call.

If you feel drawn to this way of life, come and give it a try and you will know if this is for you. In other words, “follow your heart”. I did some year ago and it has made all the difference in the world.

Sr. Mary Regina of the Sacred Heart

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