A walk in the past...
“In 1963 two Disciples of the Divine Master came from Italy to work in collaboration with the Society of St. Paul and to offer their hours of adoration for the progress of the mission of the Pauline Family in Ireland.
Then in the year 1965 the sisters acquired their own convent in Ballykeeran with sisters from Brazil, Ireland, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, Malta, Mexico and the Philippines. Those were the days of difficult beginnings but since all the sisters were in their twenties they were able to face, with courage, vigour and much laughter all that came their way. They were good times.
During those years the sisters supported themselves by making church vestments and many priests came from afar to purchase them. On the 8th December 1969, at the service of the Church, the Religious Goods Centre, better known as the Liturgical Centre, was opened in Athlone, on Castle Street. Then, in addition to church vestments, good quality religious art pieces were on offer to the public. Religious art can help people be mindful of an unseen God who cares for them, a God in whom they can trust.
In 1981 the sisters bought the pub adjacent to them and built the present convent building in Athlone. This made front page news in the newspapers and was an item of interest even on Gay Byrne’s morning chat show: “NUNS BUY PUB”. However the nuns had a different “Spirit” in mind! In fact the Chapel of Adoration is exactly on the spot of the former pub. In 1983 the community of sisters transferred from Ballykeeran into the new house on 8 Castle Street. When Pope John Paul II came to Ireland in 1979 all the papal flags were sold out and the sisters had to work day and night to meet the demand with the queue for flags stretching from Liturgical Centre and up the Main Street in Athlone.
History of Adoration Programme in Athlone
The official opening of the Chapel for Perpetual Adoration is dated in May 1985, with Mass celebrated by the late Bishop Dominic Conway in the parish Church of Ss. Peter and Paul. He had great devotion to the Eucharist and in his homily he stated that “the Eucharist is the centre of the parish, the source of all graces”. For this reason he strongly encouraged the people to be part of the Adoration Program. At the end of Mass Bishop Conway carried the monstrance from the altar of Ss. Peter and Paul and placed it on the altar of the Divine Master Chapel of Perpetual Adoration. The procession was formed by priests and a large following of people all singing hymns of praise. It was a joyful and solemn moment in the history of Athlone!
Placing the monstrance on the altar Bishop Dominic commented that this chapel was a gem in our diocese and that many graces would flow from here for priests and all people.At that time, between 300 and 400 men and women enrolled in the Adoration Programme, committing themselves to spend one hour a week in Adoration. Many of those are now reaping the glory in heaven for the many hours they spent in keeping Jesus company in the Eucharist here on earth. A special thanks to all who keep the Adoration going day and night; and to the good reader of this article please remember if at times you are worried or can’t sleep at night know that there is always someone in the Adoration Chapel praying for you. You are not alone! New members are encouraged to join this great force of prayer in Athlone because “more things are wrought by prayer than this world ever dreams of”. Every year the sisters organize a Thanksgiving Mass and Social so that all the Adorers can meet each other.”