The Visitation Order came to Ireland, to Silverstream, Stamullen, Co. Meath in September 1955. Mother Mary Teresa O’ Dwyer, Superior of the Visitation Monastery of Roseland, England had always prayed that there would be a foundation in Ireland, and when she heard that the Brothers of St. John of God were moving out of Silverstream, which seemed like and an ideal site, consisting of a large house, land, some of which had been farmed and a chapel built by voluntary labour, she immediately applied to the Bishop of Meath, Dr. Kyne for permission for the order of the Visitation to enter his diocese.
Problems of staffing the Monastery were solved by borrowing three Sisters from America. The Visitation Monasteries of St. Paul Minnesota, Brooklyn New York and Atlanta Georgia each lent a Sister. The founding group consisted of five Irish Sisters and one French Sister from Roseland and three Sisters on loan from America. As Mother Mary Teresa was Superior in Roseland, Sr. Mary Helena O’ Connor from America was to be Superior of the new Monastery. When the Visitation Order became known in Ireland and started to receive Postulants and were more settled, the three American Sisters returned to their convents. After Mother Mary Teresa finished her term of office in Roseland she came as Superior to Stamullen and Sr. Mary Helena O’ Connor returned to her monastery in America.
The Spirit of the Visitation is a “spirit of profound humility towards God, and of great gentleness with our neighbour”. The Convent Chapel required some renovations in recent years, windows needed replacing, so stained glass windows depicting St. Francis de Sales, St. Jane Francis de Chantal and St. Therese of Lisieux have been installed.
The Gardens are adorned by two shrines, the Sacred Heart and Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Bernadette. A lovely array of flowers and shrubs are grown around these shrines.
The large house was arranged to suit the Sisters, and as there had been a farm and land, and some of the Irish Sisters were from a farming background, they decided to farm. After some years it became uneconomical and various other works were tried, handcrafts etc. Eventually an opportunity arose for us to share in the apostolate of Altar Bread baking and this continues to this day. The gardens also produce various fruits and depending on the harvest, we usually have a good supply of apples, plums, blackberries, blueberries, gooseberries and rhubarb. Some of the Sisters take part in Jam making and tart baking. When there is more than ample supply, the remainder is either bottled or frozen for later use.
The Sisters live a contemplative life, prayer being the centre of their existence. Mass is celebrated for the community every morning in their church by a priest from the Franciscan Monastery, Gormanstown which is close by. Apart from an hour and a half each day of personal mental prayer, we assemble five times a day for the Divine Office. Each Sunday during Lent and Advent we have a Holy Hour for the public, consisting of Rosary, Silent Prayer and Vespers in which all take part.