Monks give religion a pop spin
The Benedictine monks of Glenstal Abbey in County Limerick are targeting lapsed Catholics with a forthcoming book titled How to Pray.
The monks' most recently published book has featured in the Irish bestsellers' list. They have already topped the music charts with a CD of Gregorian chants, which is popular at church services and chill-out dance clubs across Ireland. They claim they are filling a gap left by the decline of 'formal' religion in Ireland and beyond. A recently opened guest house at their remote abbey is attracting scores of international visitors.
They made an appearance at the Eurovision song contest, when their music featured in the interval.
The monks, who run one of Ireland's most exclusive boarding schools, said they were forced into commercial enterprise through economic necessity. They maintain that their profits have been modest and said that they are delighted, but not surprised, at their success.
Fr Simon, the abbey's bursar who oversees the community's fundraising, said that many people in twenty- first century Ireland are spiritually starved.
"Formal religion is in collapse, but people are absolutely hungry for spiritual fulfilment," he said. "We provide a means for people to find sustenance for their souls."
Despite their widespread success, which has attracted film crews from as far afield as Australian ABC's Foreign Correspondent, the brothers said success has not change them. They are considering employing a management firm to advise how to protect the inherent tranquillity of the abbey, while accommodating tourists.
Irish Monks (Jennifer Byrne, ABC TV Foreign Correspondent)
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POOR CLARE NUNS RELEASE ROCK CD
The Poor Clare Colettine Community from the UK is releasing a CD of religious music with rock, jazz and hip hop influences, in order to take their religious message to a wider audience.
The 17 singing nuns in the Poor Clare Colettine Community, in Hawarden, Wales, say music is an important part of convent life.
"Music is very important for us," said Abbess Mother Francesca. "When we want to pray we put heart, mind, soul and body - everything we've got - into it and music is the best vehicle for doing that.
"The world we all came from had that kind of music and it isn't good to cut religion off from contemporary news and music - it is a mistake the church has made in the past."
Poor Clare Colettine Community
5 Nov 2002