for Sr. Valerie's
God Means To Me
following is an article that Sr. Valerie compiled in November, 2006 for the 'What
God means to me' section of the Alive publication, while she was working
as a secondary school teacher and guidance counsellor. (Reproduced
with kind permission of Alive) |
I was 16 I stopped going to Mass. I felt there was no point in going. But thank
God I still went for feast days and the odd Sunday. Furthermore, I am a coeliac
so I didn't always receive Holy Communion. I also had no idea what, or Who, I
was really receiving. I didn't know that the readings were not just words, but
are inspired by the Holy Spirit and that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist.
did my Leaving Cert and most of my college years relying only on myself. I saw
no point in praying for exams, as I could study myself! However, thank God my
Mother prayed for me anyway. During my degree exams she gave me a relic of St.
Thérèse and a prayer which I brought into all my exams. I felt it
couldn't do any harm to have it with me!
started going to Mass more regularly the following year. I can't say exactly why,
but feel it was through the prayers of my mother and St. Thérèse.
During my H.Dip course I chose Religion for teaching methodology as the lecturer
seemed easy going. He suggested we get a children's Bible to learn the stories
(especially if we hadn't a Theology degree). The more I read the Bible the more
I wanted to read. Perhaps if I'd had a good grounding in knowing my faith as part
of my education I would have understood this earlier.
I really think the Catechism
needs to be taught in our primary and post primary schools, especially in our
secular and multi-denominational society, and not get too caught up with political
Parents also need to be educated on the catechism. How can they
pass on the faith if they don't know what they believe in?
Saturday evening in my local church I received a pair of wooden Medjugorje rosary
beads with a card explaining the Rosary. It had a beautiful picture of Our Lady
on the front. I was struck by the words: "If you only knew the power of the
Rosary, the beads would never leave your hands." From then, I tried to pray
the Rosary with my heart. I began going to Mass and confession regularly, but
never analysed it too much until I came to write this article. Last summer, a
trip to Medjugorje revitalised my faith and gave me an intense desire for a loving
relationship with God.
Then I travelled to World Youth Day with Youth 2000.
In Germany I met wonderful young people and priests who still help me on life's
In this "Pilgrimage of Grace", the writings of St. Thérèse
of Lisieux have really inspired me. I can relate to her "elevator" to
God: prayer. As Our Lady of Medjugorje says, "Pray, Pray, Pray." I hope
that I too like St. Thérèse will be able to truly recognise that
"everything is grace."
Today, I can't imagine my life without prayer
and Mass. Life has so much meaning now knowing that God loves me and that I am
merely passing through this life on my way home. I still have off days and moody
days. But Jesus is with me, even though I can't physically feel his presence.
Everyone has an intrinsic need to love and be loved. Catholicism provides this.
I would not be able to
write this article were it not for the grace of God and
my desire to tell you that God is Love and is waiting for
you too. As Our Lady says: "Live in the joy of knowing
that you are loved by God."
entered our Carmelite Monastery in Knock in January, 2009.
She made Solemn Profession in May, 2015.
"My soul glorifies
my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour." Luke 1:46
My name is Sr Mary
Olivia Kelly of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus. I made my
Solemn Profession of vows of Chastity, Poverty and Obedience
on the 3rd September, 2016, in the Carmelite Monastery of
the Nativity, Tranquilla, Knock, Co Mayo, certainly the
happiest day of my life.
joy in my heart and rejoicing for all God has done in my life,
I will share with you a little of my journey that led to this
come from a beautiful family of 5 children, 3 brothers
and 1 sister.
I was brought
up in a home where prayer was nourished by the daily rosary, angelus,
grace before meals; Mass on Sundays was a special time, going
to Mass as a family.
My parents were exceptional and powerful witnesses in my
life. They always proclaimed a God of tender love and gentleness
to me. They were involved in many charities in our local
area, always helping others, and inviting all into our home.
I had a very happy childhood, being involved in everything
from Athletics, Basketball, Rounders, Kung Fu, Button Accordion,
Horse Riding, Irish Dancing -the list is so long.
When I was
19, I was home one weekend from College in Dublin and my Dad experienced
a severe pain in his side. The next day he was diagnosed as having
extensive liver cancer. My beautiful Dad died 6 weeks later. This
was the most traumatic experience in my life. My world fell apart.
I missed my beloved father so much and began asking myself deep
questions over and over again; Now I realise what a great grace
this was to be asking myself these questions at such a young age,
Does God exist? Does heaven exist? Is my Dad in heaven?
year after my Dad passed away, Mum suggested that we go to Medugorje,
as she knew how much we were grieving for our father. So my two
brothers and I joined 50 other young people from Sligo. It was
the best week of my life, August 1997. On the third day, I had
a huge desire to go to confession & queued up for hours. The
priest was an American Franciscan, Father Philip, a really holy
priest. He was hearing confessions for several hours, and was
nodding off asleep as he heard mine. He asked me to say my act
of contrition holding a small crucifix in my hand. As I did so.
I had an overwhelming experience of God's love for me. This moment
of grace changed my life instantly. I walked out of that confessional
a new person, I was different. I had such a desire now to spread
Our Lady's messages of Medugorje and to allow other young people
to experience the love of God in their lives.
began to bring youth pilgrimages every year, sometimes twice
yearly, as part of St Michael's prayer group. Our spiritual
director was Fr Jim Murray, Carraroe, Sligo, who guided all
these sacred weeks of prayer in Medugorje. How many lives
were changed during these weeks, witnessing hundreds of young
people come back to their faith! I
began living Our Lady's messages, her 5 little stones of praying
the daily Rosary, monthly Confession, fasting on Wednesday's
& Friday's, daily Adoration, daily Mass and reading Holy
Scripture every day.
as I was climbing Croagh Patrick with a friend on Reek Sunday,
I felt within me that God was calling me to religious life. Through
much discernment and prayer and the encouragement and support
of family, friends, priests and especially my spiritual director,
Fr Jim Murray, I decided I had to try. I did several live-in experiences
in other monasteries. Then in 2009, I did a month live-in with
our Community here in Knock.
such an immense peace in my heart that I knew this was it, this
was where God was calling me to live out my vocation in life.
I felt so at home in Knock and I entered on 13th May, 2010, feast
day of Our Lady of Fatima. It has been an amazing 6 years of graces
and blessings and it is such a gift from God that I am living
what has been deep in my heart for so many years. I am living
my dream. All my desires and dreams are fulfilled in my commitment
to live a life of perpetual chastity poverty and obedience. The
vows are very sacred, they unite me to Jesus Christ in a most
intimate way by enabling me to become more and more like Him,
as this was the way He chose.
believe that it was through living Our Lady's messages that
God fulfilled His will in my life. Our Lady guided me to
her Order, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and what an honour
it is to be her daughter and wear her sacred habit. Carmel
is all Mary's.
of us who wear this sacred habit of Our Lady of Mount Carmel
are called to prayer and contemplation because that was
the first principle of our order..,it can truly be said
that "Carmel is all Mary's." ( Fr Finian Monahan,
I am now
part of a wonderful community of 19 nuns; we have been blessed
with new vocations. We are under Mary's gaze and it is a gift
to be on the Shrine grounds.
the end we will be examined in love." St John of
we do in our daily lives, "is assumed, sanctified,
used by Christ for the redemption of the world", (John
Paul II 1980, to contemplative nuns). All leads to love.
describes our life more eloquently then I ever could, she
gave me the key to my vocation. I saw all vocations are
summed up in love, and that love is all in all, embracing
every time and place because it is eternal. I have found
my vocation it is to be love in the heart of the church."
days of celebration I had the one opportunity of meeting many
friends and neighbours, to thank them for all their support and
love over my years of formation. Most of them I hadn't seen since
I had entered, so there were many questions. The most frequently
asked questions were: What is life like for you? Can I see you
now that you have made your final profession? Do the rules change
now and can you get out? Prompted by these thoughts from my dear
friends I will share with you a little, as succinctly as I can,
the joy of living a cloistered life.
life is one of prayer, contemplation and separation from
the world. It is a sacred space where silence, and solitude
are nurtured. Everything about my life as a Carmelite leads
towards this total gift of myself in love.
is a life of communion, communion with God and communion
with everything God has created. Solitude and silence, the
nucleus of our cloistered life, draw me deeper and deeper
into communion with the Most Holy
Trinity and everything that He has
As my communion and love grow
within me for all humanity, I am led to a deeper silence and solitude
interiorly and exteriorly. It is a call from within, a call to
be with my Beloved; my heart sings in silence and is so alive
in this sacred hidden land of Carmel.
all my desires to be in solitude, to be still and wait on the
Lord of my life. I am separated from the world physically, but
within I hold every human person with love before the Blessed
Trinity, interceding with joy for all my brothers and sisters
whom I love. Everything I do, everyday, is offered up for the
redemption of the world. It's such a privilege to be able to stand
here and intercede for humanity. I'm willing to give my life for
that and it is such a joy. Any sacrifice I make to deepen this
hiddenness just makes my prayer and my offering all the more powerful
a gift it is to be called to Carmel! I believe the Lord is
calling many young people to this life of prayer and contemplation;
may they come to know the beauty of this invitation from the
Lord and have the grace to respond.