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Embarrassment of Vocations

Regina Magazine

Beverly De Soto - Regina Magazine - published on 06/25/14

A fledgling Benedictine priory is bursting at the seams.

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby, 62, was born and raised in Connecticut. Today, he is the Prior of a newly-established Benedictine Monastery in Stamullen, Ireland. The Monastery of Our Lady of the Cenacle has an amazing vocations problem: they have far too many young monks (plus interested young men) for their meager means. Here’s their story:

Q. Dom Kirby, tell us how SilverStream Priory began. 

The seed of SilverStream Priory was planted in my heart in 2004-2005. Profoundly moved by Saint John Paul II’s apostolic letter, ‘Mane nobiscum Domine,’ I resolved to live the mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist and to preach that mystery every day during that year.

Q. Tell us how Our Lord called you to this vocation within a vocation.

I understood then that Our Lord was calling me to a “vocation within a vocation”: Not only to the pursuit of the traditional Benedictine life, but also to adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament, in a spirit of reparation and intercession for the sanctification of priests. An indult from the Holy See dispensed me from my obligations to the abbey of my profession, and freed me to renew my vows, under the Rule of St. Benedict, into the hands of the Most Reverend Edward J. Slattery of Tulsa. 

Another series of providential circumstances led our embryonic community from Tulsa to County Meath in Ireland, where we found a property and buildings.

Q. How did you find your priory in County Meath?

We made a novena to St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face, and prayed to Blessed Columba Marmion.
Upon arriving at SilverStream, I discovered hanging above the sacristy vesting cabinet, a framed document in Latin attesting to the dedication of the little church and its altar to St. Thérèse.

On October 19, 2011, I met with the Most Reverend Michael Smith, Bishop of Meath, and laid our project before him. He graciously welcomed us to the Diocese of Meath. And so, with the fatherly blessing of Bishop Slattery, Dom Benedict Andersen and I set out for the Isle of Saints and Scholars to implant traditional Benedictine life at SilverStream, committed to the traditional forms of the sacred Liturgy, celebrated in Latin with Gregorian chant.

Q. What is the particular focus of your Benedictine community?

Like all Benedictine monks, we open the sacred Scriptures daily in lectio divina to discover, shining through every page, the adorable Face of Christ. This particular focus on the radiant Countenance of Jesus, both revealed and concealed in the Eucharist, is rooted in the expression coined by Blessed John Paul II in the encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia, wherein he enjoined the faithful to tarry before the “Eucharistic Face of Christ.” After Scripture, we, like all Benedictines, refer to the Fathers of the Desert, and to the ancient monastic traditions of East and West.

Q. Are you influenced by the example and writings of anyone apart from Saint Benedict?

We take to heart the teachings of Catherine Mectilde de Bar (1614-1698) on adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament in a spirit of reparation. Mother Mectilde is considered to be the “Teresa of Avila” of the Benedictine Order. Italian Abbot Celestino Maria Colombo OSB (1874-1935) believed passionately in the Mectildian charism, and hoped to see it flourish among monks of the Order. We also give a privileged place to the writings of Blessed Columba Marmion, Ireland’s most illustrious Benedictine.

Q. What is the Priory’s situation today?

Promising young men with vocations are knocking at our door, but neither the door, nor the house, nor the land belongs to us. I have to raise funds for the purchase of the SilverStream Property. 

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