Candle is lit to mark new era for monastery

Candle is lit to mark new era for monastery

18 January 2012 - by JOANNE FLEMING

TOBAR Mhuire Retreat and Conference Centre welcomed 150 guests, including politicians, church leaders and members of the local community, to its official reopening on Wednesday.

A brief service, a candle lighting ceremony and a tour of the upgraded facilities marked the £1.5m restoration of the Crossgar monastery, which now sees itself as a centre for spiritual renewal and human development.

Among the guests were South Down MP Margaret Ritchie and former MP Eddie McGrady, Auxiliary Bishop to the Bishop of Down and Connor, Donal McKeown, Canon Sean Rogan, and local Assemblyman Willie Clarke.

Tobar Mhuire, can now accommodate up to 30 for residential retreats in the beautifully restored manor house which sits in 60 tranquil acres, much of which is woodland. There is also a suite of counselling rooms.

The Passionist monks run a service inspired by their founder Paul Daneo which combines psychotherapy with their own vocation to help transform the lives of people in despair, and Tobar Mhuire will help them to further this work in a rural setting.

Father John Friel CP, Superior at Tobar Mhuire said they would like people of “faith and no faith who are in search of meaning” to come and use the centre.

“We have a solid commitment to working with groups who, either through life choices or circumstances, have traditionally felt excluded from the church and see Christianity as something of a cold house or irrelevant,” he said.

Father John added that the Passionist Community at Crossgar is also very keen to work with other members of the clergy of all denominations.

“Rising secularism, and within the Catholic faith the impacts of the abuse scandals, has affected morale amongst the clergy,” he said. “We, as Passionists, feel that too. We’d like to ensure Tobar Mhuire plays a full part in spiritual renewal.”