The Transition Year Coordinator and Staff were wondering how they could ask fanatical rugby/hurling/gym young men in TY to do heavy manual work by way of a project.
The project they had in mind was to restore an over-grown path in the monks’ forestry, from the statue of Our Lady to the statue of Christ at his Baptism next to the waterfall. This was to be a concrete show of our motto, “One Campus, One Vision, in action. This project would be the start of further forest trails on the monastic land, part of Green Campus Eco-Tourism.
The project would require carrying hardcore stone up a steep slope in buckets and barrow the rest of the way. Then the same had to be done with a finishing grit.
They would not work on their own, both monk and housemaster would work side by side with them sharing in that same hard labour.
However, it was not all about the hard slog. This was an opportunity to teach the same lads, welding, pipe bending, block laying and horticulture.
Away from the stuffy classroom, they would listen to the dawn chorus of the birds. They would see the red squirrels leaping from tree to tree.
The students entered into the project with great heart and generosity of time.
Where funding was necessary, they filled out sponsorship cards and brought their families on board with both cash and kind. Parents rowed in to offer railway sleepers, hardcore and grit and much else that was need, such as beech hedging.
The final result is a Prayer Path, starting at Our Lady’s Statue, given to the monks by the Christian Brothers when leaving Roscrea, and finishing at the statue of Christ at His Baptism, given to the monks by the Sisters of the Sacred Heart when they left Roscrea. Along the Path there are prayer stations with rustic seating made out of a tree from that grove of trees.
Despite Covid-19, the Prayer Path has been finished and has been widely acclaimed for its beauty and simplicity and has already achieved an impressive foot-fall every day.
Last year Cistercian College first year students erected an out-door Stations of the Cross and repeated the same this year.
I am proud to have been a hands-on partner with the students in this project and look forward to some exciting projects with TY in 2021 and 2022.
Fr. Aodhán Mt. St. Joseph Abbey