Passionist Order Growing At Tobar Mhuire

Two young men on their personal journeys at Crossgar's Tobar Muire monastery

Two young men on their personal journeys at Crossgar’s Tobar Muire monastery

The sun was shining when I arrived at Tobar Mhuire, a tranquil haven located in Crossgar in County Down, to talk to two young men who have committed to a religious life writes Jim Masson.

Like any visitor you are struck by its serene woodland setting, beautiful and peaceful.

The Passionist Monastery at Tobar Mhuire also runs as a retreat providing spiritual support in a sacred place, a 60-acre woodland estate.

Around fifteen years ago, efforts were made to revitalise the work of the Passionist Order at Tobar Mhuire, and the centre is now recently celebrating two young men who are on their different journeys in the Order… Conor Quinn from South Armagh who has just taken his final vows, and Cian Hennessy from Cork, who has just been accepted as an Inovitiate.

Pictured at Tobar Mhuire Passionist Monastery in Crossgar are (l-r) Fr Conor Quinn, who has just taken his final vows in the Passionist Order, with Fr Aidan O’Kane, rector at Tobar Mhuire in Crossgar, and Inovitiate from Cork, Cian Hennessey.

The aim of the Passionist Order, a Congregation within the Roman Catholic Church within the Province of St Patrick, is to keep alive Christ’s Passion and to provide a source of life and hope to all those struggling to find meaning in life.

There are regular masses and services at Tobar Mhuire, and also meetings and sessions available to help everyone take the time to reflect on their own spiritual and human development.

Timothy Ray, an Ignatian spiritual director and author of eight books on Celtic spirituality, is the writer-in-residence and also provides training through refresher days, discussions about the Irish saints, and space for those experiencing stress in their daily lives and workloads to find inner tranquility and harmony. These sessions can be as a group or on a one-to-one basis.

Testament to the healing and spiritual benefits of the work ongoing at Tobar Mhuire, many local people enjoy refreshing daily walks through the paths in the tranquility of this mature woodland.

Father Aidan O’Kane, vicar at Tobar Mhuire, was himself ordained in London, and welcomed the two young men into the Passionist Order… one having just taken his final vows and the other has joined as an Innovitiate.

Fr Aidan said: “I would like to congratulate Conor for taking the final and perpetual vow to becoming a Brother in the Passionist Order.

“This is the culmination of years of study for Conor and he will be able to share this special occasion with his community and family.

“Also, I would like to welcome Cian as an Inovitiate to Tobar Mhuire. Here he will experience life in the Passionist Order as an early first stage in his training.”

Tobar Mhuire Monestary in Crossgar, a retreat and conference centre managed by the Passionist Order.

Brother Conor Quinn (32) took his final vows in the Passionist Order at the Holy Cross Church in Ardoyne on Sunday (14th August ) during the Sunday mass. From Newtonhamilton in South Armargh, and a former pupil of St Paul’s, Bessbroook, Conor was attracted to a religious life from an early age.

Explaining his journey to becoming a Passionist Brother, speaking ahead of the mass, Conor said: “I had a faith conversion about ten years ago. I was studying computer science at university at the time and after a couple of years I realised computer science was not for me.

“I always had a strong faith, and in my early twenties my personal struggles found a new drive and direction through this deep faith.

“I joined the Passionist order in 2016 and my aim was to be a Passionist and a priest. This has helped me grow as a person, and has deeply fed my commitment to our community and to God.

“For a three years I studied in the United States having spent one year in Chicago, and I am looking forward to finally becoming a priest.

“It’s been a long journey in my training and now I am taking my final vows on Sunday with the Provincial Superior who is head of the Passionist Order in Britain and Ireland. I will then be able to minister in Scotland or in Ireland, wherever I am needed by the Order.”

And while Brother Conor Quinn was stepping into the world as a fully qualified member of the Passionist Order to serve as a priest, young Cian Hennessey (25) from Shandon in County Cork explained that he had just become a Novitiate, an entrance level into the Passionist Order.

“I just started on 10th August when I was clothed in the habit. I always wanted to be a priest going back to when I was a boy.

“Already I have spend three years studying at Maynooth College in Cork. It was around 15 when I decided really that I would dedicate my life to Christ. Once I take my final vows like Brother Conor I will be sent to a house somewhere in Ireland or Scotland to continue the work of the Passionist order.

“It will be quite a long period of training. I will spend one year as an Inovitiate praying, studying and working. Then one year in Apostasy, then this is followed by four years of study in Theology.

“Everyone finds their own journey to here, and the training will make me professionally and spiritually qualified to serve as a priest wherever I am chosen to serve by the Provincial Superior. I am really looking forward to this next stage in my journey.”