Northern Ireland news

Former BBC journalist Martina Purdy returns to religious life in 'miracle' offer

St Patrick's Way guides Elaine Kelly and Martina Purdy in St Patrick's Church of Ireland Church in Saul, Co Down. The women are leaving their jobs to return to religious life in Co Louth. Picture Mal McCann

A FORMER BBC journalist who quit her high-profile job to become a nun only to be then forced to leave is returning to religious life in Co Louth.

Martina Purdy (56) left her political correspondent role in 2014 following a 20 year career in media to join the Sisters of Adoration in west Belfast.

However, because the congregation had become "too small and fragile", Ms Purdy was unable to take her final vows and left the order two years ago to work as a guide in St Patrick's Centre in Downpatrick.

A friend, Elaine Kelly, had also left her job as a lawyer to enter the same convent and had to step down. She joined Ms Purdy to host walks in Co Down based around the legacy of St Patrick.

Last month, the centre director confirmed the two women were leaving to join at the Poor Clare's monastery at Faughart in Co Louth.

Ms Purdy described the move as "a miracle".

"When I left the convent, there were times I felt the scandal of it. I was rather embarrassed and, like Mary to the Angel Gabriel, I kept asking, ‘How can this be?," she told The Belfast Telegraph.

"It didn’t make sense because I knew I was called and I knew God is faithful to His promises, then out of the clear blue sky, this miracle. Elaine and I received an amazing offer, a chance to return to religious life.

"We grabbed the chance and, two weeks ago, we were accepted into the Poor Clares in Co Louth. We will be Sisters again, back from the dead, full of new life, living the dream."

Unlike the Sisters of Adoration, the Poor Clares is not an enclosed order, so Ms Purdy has more freedom to go outside.

“At one stage, I would have laughed in your face if you had told me I would one day quit my job as a BBC political correspondent to enter a convent on the Falls Road, two doors down from where I used to interview Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness,” she added.

Ms Purdy also spoke of the distress caused by the withdrawal of the offer to become a nun in 2019.

"...I was in danger of plunging into a dark place; a place of anger, resentment and confusion.

"So, I did what every sensible Catholic does when this happens: I went on a retreat to a monastery to get some perspective.

"[Don't] give up... no matter how dark it gets, there is always hope and joy."

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