Why do you think your order is growing at a time when there is a general trend for many female religious orders to be in decline? Could you explain how your order has grown?
This film shows the rapid expansion of the Tyburn Nuns particularly in the last 15 years. This has come about probably for two related reasons. First because our Mother Foundress was totally dedicated to the Church universal and viewed her ‘little work’ as being like ‘sparks among the stubble’ and longed to set the whole world on fire with the love of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus. Next, the Second Vatican Council in its documents taught that the Church is both missionary and contemplative and called for contemplative communities to establish themselves in missionary countries so that the “fullness of the Church’s presence” would be manifest to all believers and non-believers.
The film includes some reflections on the life of your foundress, Mother Marie Adele Garnier, and makes the observation that you receive thousands of petitions for prayers to be said at her tomb from all over the world. Do you think that there is good cause to seriously consider if your foundress is a saint?
It is true that we have received thousands of petitions of prayers to be offered at her tomb from all over the world. I consider her to be a very, very holy woman and intimate friend of God. Cardinal [Désiré-Joseph] Mercier said that he considered her to be a veritable saint of God, and I can only agree with him.
As your film vividly makes clear, your mother house is at the site of the former Tyburn Tree. This, you say, has led to the monastery becoming an international centre of pilgrimage. Would you say that devotion to the English martyrs is growing and if so what evidence do you have for that? Would reasons would you ascribe to this phenomenon?
Yes, Tyburn Convent is at the site of the former Tyburn Tree. This has led to the monastery becoming a centre of international pilgrimage and this devotion to the English martyrs is growing, as is evidenced by the several things. First, some years ago a few priests and schools began to bring their Confirmation classes here to learn from the martyrs what a radical ‘witness’ to the Catholic faith really meant. These group pilgrimages in preparation for the sacrament of Confirmation have increased and become a regular feature. In recent years parishes dedicated to the English martyrs have also brought parish groups here as have, too, groups for educational or historical purposes. North American pilgrim groups have proliferated in recent years – and notably since the 9/11 tragedy. For some years there has been a growing stream of pilgrims – including large groups from Italy and Rome. This latter is quite marked since the recent visit of Pope Benedict to Britain.
Do you think that the film might produce vocations?
It may, but perhaps more importantly I hope that it serves to inform the general public that in the Catholic Church the monastic contemplative life is one of vibrant, joyous and holy dedication to God, a life well worth living – not only for the nuns themselves, but for all those people who are touched by glimpsing something of this life of hidden, godly dedication.
If people enjoy your film how would you most like them, if at all, to express their appreciation?
If people enjoy and appreciate this film it would be my wish that they would express their appreciation by trying to serve God more sincerely in their own personal lives. If they are Catholics I would hope, in addition, that they would find themselves more drawn to the prayer of adoration before the Holy Eucharist. Finally, as the way of life presented in this film has its source and inspiration in the life and work of Mother Marie Adele Garnier they would add their prayers to ours for her prompt Beatification.
Mother M. Xavier McMonagle
Mother General, Tyburn Nuns.
Tyburn Convent ‘Gloria Deo’ is available from CTS priced £15.
Of related interest:
|St Benedict –This booklet tells the story of St Benedict’s life, his novel monasteries and his many famous followers down the centuries. Most of all, the untold influence of his celebrated ‘Rule’ on sixth century – and twenty-first century – European life and culture is explored, particularly in the light of current concerns over a pervading de-Christianisation of Europe, its institutions, and its soul.|
|Forty Martyrs of England & Wales – The immortal stories of forty men and women who, to the last, joyfully died for their faith. Margaret Clithero, Edmund Campion, John Southworth, to mention a few, rank among this group of courageous people whose lives were inextricably caught up in the religious persecution in England and Wales during the 1500s and 1600s.|
|Heart Speaks Unto Heart – Celebrating Pope Benedict XVI’s historic first State Visit to the UK, this DVD tells the story of the extraordinary four days in September 2010, offering not just event highlights, but all of the Holy Father’s profound words from his 13 public speeches. Archbishop Vincent Nichols provides a narrative to introduce the different sections of the DVD.|