The Benedictine Monks, Rostrevor, made history on Wednesday 6 November 2002 , Feast of All Saints of Ireland, when they blessed the land and turned the sod on the site of their future monastery of the Holy Cross in Kilbroney Valley.
Holy Cross Monastery is the first Benedictine House to be opened in this corner of Ireland since monks from Chester came to Downpatrick in 1183 at the behest of John de Courcy. There was already a Bec connection then, since Chester had been founded by the famous French Abbey of Bec just a century previously at the instigation of Saint Anselm.
The ground-breaking ceremony in Bronagh’s Valley was preceded by a Eucharistic celebration in the chapel of the monks’ temporary home, the Missionary Convent, Rostrevor. Addressing the congregation gathered there, Dom Mark-Ephrem M. Nolan, OSB, Superior of Holy Cross Monastery, spoke of the monastic vocation as being about “spreading a spirituality of communion” .
As they cut the sod the monks thoughts turned to the ancient monastery of Bronagh which once stood on the outskirts of the village. They could see themselves as sharing a common vocation: “to be a beacon of hope, a lighthouse pointing to safe haven in God, a sign of the welcoming, healing presence of Christ in this area on the shores of Carlingford lough”.