New Zealand woman joins nuns in Cork and takes vow of silence

Sr Anne Marie happy to dedicate her life to praying and discerning the Will of God


A New Zealand woman has become just the second person to join an order of nuns who maintain a vow of silence and live as hermits in west Cork.

Sr Anne Marie (20), formerly Hannah Loeman, professed her vows of obedience, chastity and poverty on Monday to become a Carmelite Nun of the Holy Face of Jesus.

Before a congregation of about 25 people at the Holy Family Carmelite Hermitage in Leap in west Cork, Sr Anne Marie professed her vows before Tridentine priest, Fr Thomas Le Gal and her fellow nun, Mother Irene.

Mother Irene has spent almost 30 years living as a consecrated hermit.

“I arrived here from New Zealand in March 2017 and in September 2017, I received the habit as a novice and today I have made my first profession of vows for a period of three years,” said Sr Anne Marie, who will live in a wooden hut or cell.

“I chose the order because they are devoted to our Lady and reading about the life of St Teresa and praying and discerning the will of God.”

One of a large family from Whanganui on New Zealand’s North Island who were brought up with a strong Catholic faith, Sr Anne Marie admitted that she found adjusting to a life of silence and contemplation difficult at first, but she was now quite comfortable with it.

“We are a silent order but one hour every day, we have recreation and can speak. We pray in common in Latin but when we pray in private, we have a choice of Latin or English but we only attend traditional Latin rite masses.

“After professing today’s vows, I am obliged to remain for three years and at the end of that period of time if I am sure that it is not God’s will, I am free to leave or to make final vows for life to live as a Carmelite nun.”

Mother Irene, who is originally from Dublin, said she spent time in the Carmelite order before becoming a hermit three decades ago.

“I was approached by a priest to ask me if I would help a young lady in New Zealand who was searching for a traditional Carmelite community and could not find one, so he asked me to help her,” said Mother Irene.

“I had some experience of the Carmelite way of life before I began living as hermit so I said, ‘Yes, if it’s God will she will stay and if it’s not God’s will, she will leave.’

“ Sr Anne Marie is the first to join me here but we are hoping more will join us.”