Closed order goes green to save on electricity bills

 Sr Colette Marie: Order has no fixed income.

First they embraced social media. Now they’re going green.

An order of contemplative nuns, whose members live a hidden life of prayer, penance, and perpetual adoration behind closed doors, has been given planning permission to install solar panels on its monastery in Cork.

The Poor Clare Sisters hope the large photovoltaic array which will be built on the roof of a building at their landmark premises on College Rd will be the answer to their prayers as they seek to reduce their electricity bills.

The order applied to Cork City Council last August to install a 19.3sq m solar panel array to the south-facing roof over the single storey annex to the front of the existing building.

In the application, Wain Morehead Architects, said the panels will provide a sustainable solution to reduce the order’s electrical consumption, while locating the panels on a low-level roof, would minimise the visual impact of the installation.

A planning application fee did not apply because the Poor Clare Monastery is a non-profit making organisation. The order had to provide a letter with the planning application stating it is a charity. The Revenue Commissioners also supplied a letter to confirm the order’s charitable status.

In the planning application, Abbess Sr Colette Marie O’Reilly described the order as a non-profit making community of enclosed contemplative religious sisters, totally dedicated to the contemplative life, with no fixed income, depending on alms and charitable donations.

She said the monastery, the public chapel, and surrounding property belong to the Diocese of Cork and Ross.

Fr Tom Deenihan, the secretary of the Cork Diocesan Trust, also supplied a letter to confirm that as legal owners of the monastery, the diocese consented to the planning application.

City planners have now granted planning permission.

The order is named after Clare Offreduccio, a remarkable 13th-century figure known to the sisters as St Clare of Assisi, who was the first female follower of St Francis of Assisi.

The nuns follow a way of life and prayer which has remained largely unchanged since the 13th century.

Today, eight sisters — Sr Francis, Sr Faustina, Sr Miriam, Sr Clare, Sr Anthony Mary, Sr Mary, Sr Bernadette, and the mother abbess, Sr Colette Marie — live in the College Rd monastery.


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