My vocation story had to begin in the family. Both my parents were daily mass goers, my dad before he went to work and my mam after we had all departed for school. It was done quietly without fuss. As a child I was not even aware of it. I am the youngest of six – three boys and three girls and I am a Dub. From the age of twelve I wanted to be a nun. It was an attraction that I cannot explain. I don’t know where it came from or why as I was not particularly pious or prayerful, less so than my friends. In my teens I wanted to be alone with God. I used to visit Churches and was delighted when I was the only one there. I could spend hours in awe before the tabernacle. I did not say prayers as such but sat quietly with God. All the while I was being drawn to a contemplative way of life. By the time I finished school it was all I wanted. Eventually at the age of twenty two I asked to join the Sisters in New Ross Carmel. From the first day I felt at home.
At the age of twenty-three, I took the step to answer God’s call. Seeking the advice of a Carmelite priest in Clarendon Street. He directed me to New Ross - Carmel. Summing up all my courage, I went for the interview and entered Carmel on 26th July 1957. Later in life, when reflecting on the event, I knew there was an Inner strength doing it which was not my own. The happy faces of the sisters behind the grille reassured me and I thought to myself: “It must not be such a hard life if they are so happy.” For despite the ups and downs, life in Carmel is a very happy and fulfilling one.
I saw it then and still do after 65 years as an adventurous journey into the unknown, towards God.
My name is Sr. Cora Marie Lawlor. I am a Carmelite nun; part of the community in New Ross, co. Wexford. I am here almost 2 years now and am a transfer from the Loughrea monastery where I was solemnly professed on 1st October 2017 the feast of the Little Flower.
How I came to be in the garden? When I left school, I studied Home Economics in Dunmanway west Cork and was introduced to gardening there. I then pursued a three year course in Commercial Horticulture in “An Grianan” Horticulture College in Termonfechin in county Louth. I spent my practical year partly in an organic farm in Wicklow and in a Nursery stock enterprise in Kent, England. On completion of the course I spent a summer as a Seed Breeder in Holland. In the 1990’s it was very difficult to get a job in Ireland so I went back to college to study accountancy and easily got work and stayed in the office (out of the rain) until I entered religious life!
Every monastery has a garden and I have always enjoyed growing things, it brings its own reward. There is always new contour and colour, new fruit and flower to enjoy. Each garden has its own story and character and each community has its own needs to be met from the garden. In Loughrea I was the Sacristan so we took a shot at growing flowers for the altar and I learned a lot along the way.
Here in the sunny south east and with a larger glasshouse we can grow a greater variety of plants, which is its own wonderful adventure. Oh the delights of being a Co-Creator of working in harmony with God in the garden- there’s nothing like it.
“The kiss of the sun for pardon;
The song of the bird for mirth.
One is nearer God’s heart in a garden;
Than anywhere else on Earth.”
By Dorothy Frances Gurney.