Monday the 31st May, the feast of the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth, was a wonderful day of celebration for our community and indeed for the whole Dominican family in Ireland, as Sr Niamh Muireann made her solemn profession as a Domincan nun. She was joined by her parents, family, relatives and friends – many of whom travelled a long distance to be with her. Fr Larry Collins OP, vicar of the Master of the Order for our community, presided at the celebration and fourtenn other priests (12 Domincans 2 Carmelites from Sr Niamh’s home parish and 1 Benedictine Monk, Rostrevor) concelebrated the Eucharist – Fr Terence Crotty OP preached the homily. We were also happy that some of the Domincan students from St Saviour’s, Dublin and novices from St Mary’s, Cork, and a Benedictine brother could join with us. Many of the local lay Dominicans were also present.

The revised Dominican rite of profession is quite simple and maybe somewhat stark but profound in its theological significance. The litanies and the prayer of consecration – which are part of the Roman rite of religious profession – have never been part of our Dominican tradition (although they are offered as an option if desired).
Our community have chosen to keep to the simple rite which is more in keeping with the tradition of our Order. We will try to give a brief description of it here for those interested.

The rite begins (after the Gospel) with the sister being professed prostrating herself while asking for God’s Mercy and the community’s.
Then after the homily the prioress questions her regarding her willingness and readiness to dedicate herself to God in our way of life. After a pause for silent prayer begging God for His grace and mercy the sister (kneeling) makes profession into the hands of the prioress. According to our tradition obedience only is mentioned but all three vows are included – in fact through profession we commit ourselves to faithfully live our whole life according to our constitutions. The formula of profession is as follows:

I, sister N.N., make profession, and promise obedience to God, and to blessed Mary and to blessed Dominic, and to the Master of the Order of Friars Preachers and to you Sister N. N. Prioress of this monastery of St Catherine of Siena, Drogheda and to your successors, according to the rule of blessed Augustine and the Constitutions of the Nuns of the Order of Preachers, that I will be obedient to you and to your successors, until death.

Then the priest who presides reminds us that it is through this simple act of profession that God consecrates us for Himself:

Sr N. N. by this solemn profession you have given yourself to God and to His will: God Himself, therefore, has conse¬crated you to Himself through the ministry of the Church, to be associated, through a life of prayer and penance, with the ‘holy preaching’ of St Dominic, so that you may be His own heritage and that He may be your heritage forever

He then blesses the veil saying:

Lord, bless + this veil which Sr N.N. wears for love of you and your blessed Mother Mary, ever Virgin, as a sign of her consecration to you. Through your help and protection may she always preserve the purity of heart that it mystically signifies. In wearing it may she be recognised as a house of prayer and a temple of intercession for all people. Clothe with your grace her entire being, so that she may love you with all her heart. May she always live in this love and be introduced one day to the joy of your kingdom, through Christ our Lord.
All: Amen.

He blesses the ring and gives it to the newly professed saying:

Sr NN Receive this ring as a sign of consecration and fidelity pledged to God, so that wearing it you may be defended by the power of heavenly protection, and keep true faith with Him until you come into everlasting joy

The rite of profession concludes with the singing of the antiphon Amo Christum – here we give the translation:

I love Christ into Whose bridal chamber I enter.
Whose Mother is a Virgin, Whose Father knew no woman.
Whose organ sounds out with melody for me.
When I love Him I am chaste. When I touch Him I am clean.
When I accept Him I am a virgin. With his ring He has betrothed me and He has adorned me with glorious jewels

The Eucharist continues as usual.

After the cermony the guests were invited to a buffet lunch, Niamh’s mother had baked a beautiful cake which we cut in due course.

The day was brought to a close with a half hour’s silent Eucharistic Adoration followed by solemn Vespers – at which Fr Ronan Cusack OP from the local Dominican priory preached a short homily. Benediction followed – we were happy that many of the guests were able to remain for this conclusion of a perfect day!

More photos to follow in a few days – on the whole our community are ‘camera shy’ – but we hope to have some to share with our readers in due course.