“Everyone of us is born to greatness, called into existence for nothing less than intimate participation in the life and love of God.” – Sister Mary McCormack.
The Sisters of the Carmelite Monastery in Looe were each individually chosen for this rare vocation to live their life solely for the ‘beloved’ – God himself. This body of work explores enclosed convent life, while questioning the vow of obedience intrinsic to any devout religious calling.
Positioned just outside the tiny fishing village of Looe in Cornwall, the Carmelite Monastery’s first inhabitants were a French order of nuns, Dames de la Retraite. Over the years, the monastery saw many orders pass, and in 1981 the Second Foundation of the Carmelites (originally from Quidenham, Norfolk) came to reside there. The members of this small community spends the majority of their days praying and communicating their unconditional love for God.
Waking at 5.30am for their first service, and ending with the last at 9.15pm, it’s hard to imagine that there would be any time to enjoy the simple pleasures of life. As I began my four day retreat at the convent, my initial presumptions faded away. Sister Katrin said, “people who know us see that we are normal people… that we are fun… that we laugh.” The Sisters enjoy knitting, painting and writing poems in their recreational time and, despite the pervading silence, laughter.
For some responding to their calling resulted in family conflict yet it was unquestionable that living solely for God was the right path to choose. And, with each others’ support, they all remain as committed as they were the day that they entered the Carmelite Monastery.