Northern Ireland news

Prayers offered for Martina Purdy and Elaine Kelly after they're told they can't take final vows

Elaine Kelly and Martina Purdy. Picture by Hugh Russell

PRAYERS were being offered last night for Martina Purdy and Elaine Kelly after it was revealed they will not be able to take their final vows to become "fully-professed" nuns.

The two women, who both left high-profile careers to join the Sisters of the Adoration,are understood to have already left the west Belfast convent where they had spent the past five years.

They both made headlines when they left their successful careers to join the Falls Road convent and had hoped to make her final vows in 2023.

It is now understood the two women will take time out to reflect and consider their futures.

It is also believed that, despite five years of training, they cannot simply join another religious order. It is understood they would have to apply to join another order and restart their training if accepted.

Ms Purdy, a former BBC political correspondent, said on Monday it was not their choice to leave, but the congregation was "too small" to meet the standards of the Catholic Church and all "temporary-professed" nuns could not have their vows renewed.

She said she would "continue to follow Jesus as best I can as a lay Catholic and have now entered a period of discernment".

Ms Kelly, a former barrister, said when she had entered the convent she believed it was for life.

The two women were the last of four to leave the Ardoration Sisters convent in recent weeks.

Following the announcement of the decision by the two women, prayers have been offered for them as they contemplate the next stage of the lives.

The decision has prompted hundreds of messages of support online, with many people praying for them.

One woman said: "So sad to hear this. May the love of the Holy Spirit guide and bless you in the next journey of your lives".

Another added: "Sorry to hear this, but let's hope they can continue their vocations in other service".

One religious group, Followers of The Cross Lourdes Pilgrimage Group, also appealed for prayers for the two women.

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