A fledgling new monastic community is looking to create a space in Dublin city centre. Rev Garth Bunting explains more.
I have been Residential Priest Vicar at Christ Church Cathedral since September 2010, leading the cathedral's spirituality programme. I live in the Deanery at Werburgh Street, Dublin, and it's from there we are developing a new monastic movement that aims to look at the traditional monastic ways of life and reinterpret them for living in today's world.
We are at the very beginning of this journey but we are all longing to see what emerges. Basically, we are currently a group of seven people and we have been meeting together as community over the past year, fortnightly, over a simple meal. During that time we have felt our particular mission emerge from our discernment and recently took the decision to open a space for silence, meditation and reflection in our area of Dublin.
It all started when I went to do some study in Christian spirituality. I have always been interested in some sort of monastic way of life and am a tertiary of the Anglican Third Order, Society of St Francis. While I was studying I came across the stories of a new monastic movement that seems to be happening across the world. I began to look in more depth at new-monasticism and the way in which it interprets the traditional monastic model for today's society and culture. I am very interested in how that might create community, and possibly a fresh expression of church.
I came to work in Christ Church Cathedral when I had the opportunity to focus in on this world of spirituality. One of the things I got to do very early on was to host an evening when we looked at the monastic tradition and the journey has really gone from there. Six or seven people became a kind of community wanting to explore the tradition, we are now interested in creating something as community. We have spent the last nine months getting to know one another, supporting one another in life, ministry, jobs, and so on.
Then we started asking ourselves, 'how can we share what we do with others living around us?' We want to continue creating community but centre it on some sort of spiritual practice or spiritual way of life – though we would also want to emphasise that it is a spiritual way of life that is Christian. People can be looking for all sorts of spiritualities but ours is clearly focused on Christ and that's very important.
Something interesting that has emerged for us in all of this is the recurring image of a doorway. We see it as an invitation for people to come in and it's also about us going out into our own local area and getting involved. As a result of this we have tentatively named ourselves 'An Doras Oscailte Community' – that's Irish for the Open Doorway Community.
We are an ecumenical group: Anglican, Roman Catholic and Lutheran. We meet around my kitchen table and that regular, two-hour, meeting in the same place has been very important to us; we all live in the centre of Dublin and feel it's right for this community to be in the heart of the city.
As we go on to create community we are not even going to ask if the people who come to us have a faith or not. It's about sharing our life. Now we want to create a physical space for reflection and looking for God in the midst of people's busy lives. We are still not quite sure where that space is to be though. Christ Church Cathedral is a two minute walk away from where I live and there is also a parish church close by – or it could be somewhere else entirely. We are looking to create this space over the summer so we have something to offer to people wanting to explore more of this new monasticism.