History

Congregation of the Passion of Jesus Christ

Recognising in St. Paul of the Cross the action of the Holy Spirit, the Church approved Our Congregation and its Rule and entrusted us with a mission to preach the Gospel of the Passion by our life and apostolate. For this reason, our mission aims at evangelising others by means of the Word of the Cross so that all may come to know Christ and the power of His Resurrection, may share in His suffering and, becoming like Him in His death, may be united with Him in glory.

This community belongs to the Passionist Province of St. Patrick, which has foundations in Ireland and Scotland and in Paris as well as Missionary foundations in Botswana and South Africa. The brethren who serve in St. Gabriel's are available to serve -and have actually served in the other foundations of the Province.

When St. Gabriel's was established, it belonged to a larger Province embracing England, Ireland and Scotland. The Noviciate was at Broadway in England although most of the candidates for the Congregation were Ireland. There were then only two Passionist foundations in Ireland, in Dublin and Belfast and it was desired that, as well as providing a location for the Noviciate nearer to the source of vocations, there might be provided another foundation for those directly involved in the apostolate of Parish Missions and retreats

The professed members of the original community were drawn from established communities, though the group as a unit was only constituted when the members were assigned to this foundation. Shortly after the arrival of the Professed Brethren, a class, already half-way through their noviciate year, came from Broadway to The Graan and were joined by other new candidates.

Of the five members of the foundation community, four were Irish and one was Scottish. Of the five clerical novices, one was from Glasgow, the remaining four being from different parts of Ireland, as were also the three lay postulants. This reflected the composition of the entire Province for while most of the brethren were Irish, there were only the two foundations in Ireland. By the time the foundation was made at the Graan, the Passionists had been established in Ireland for 52 years. The priests were active in the apostolate of parish missions so that they were well known far beyond the areas close to their existing retreats. Usually the majority of our candidates have been drawn from the areas adjacent to Passionist Communities- which accounts for the high proportion of brethren from Dublin, Belfast and Glasgow. Most other candidates came to us as a result of contacts made during Parish Missions, which in the past were the most active sphere of Passionist apostolate. There were, already, a number of individuals from the Clogher Diocese among the Professed brethren but from the time the noviciate was established here, candidates from the immediate neighbourhood have joined the others who came from different parts of Ireland and Scotland.

Vocations from England had never been numerous and, since 1927, when Ireland and Scotland became a separate Province, only a few of our brethren have English origins.

25th Mar 1909 Two Passionists arrive to take possession of The Graan
2nd Jul 1909 Arrival of five clerical novices and two more priests, one to act as Master of Novices and the other to be his assistant.
25th Jul 1909 Opening of first church at The Graan
31st Oct 1917 Laying of foundation stone for the permanent Reteat
13th Nov 1920 Community occupies new retreat building
3rd May 1925 Laying of foundation stone for new church
16th May 1926 Last Mass celebrated in the old church.
25th May 1926 Dedication of new church of St. Gabriel by Most Rev. Dr. McKenna, Lord Bishop of Clogher.
26th Jul 1937 Extension of Retreat building, by addition of top storey.
20th Sep 1976 Transfer of Noviciate to St. Patrick's Retreat, Crossgar, Co. Down
20th Nov 1977 Dedication of Extension to double capacity of the church building by Most Rev. Dr. Mulligan, Lord Bishop of Clogher.
Farmlands let out on a short-term lease.
Buildings of the old Retreat let-out on a long-term lease for use as a Nursing Home- the buildings extensively renovated and extended to accommodate 99 residents.
1st May 1992 Brethren vacate old Retreat building to occupy Farm Manager's house while new smaller residence is constructed.
13th Dec 1992 New residence occupied by community.

The presence of a Passionist Community has provided a Mass centre for the surrounding area, especially for families living in isolated farms in the neighbourhood.

Since its foundation, this community has had a majority of priests. Stipends for the Masses, which they celebrated, have been the most stable source of financial support. Many of these priests also worked as preachers of parish missions and retreats throughout Ireland and Scotland. Offerings from this ministry contributed to the support of the Retreat. Offerings of the faithful who attend Sunday Mass have always formed a significant portion of our income.

The small farm attached to the property with its stock and implements formed part of the initial purchase and income from farming supplemented the resources of the community. Two other small adjoining farms were purchased, increasing our holdings to 130 acres, and for many years, especially during the  World War II and afterwards, milk production made a substantial contribution to the income, especially when we had Brothers to engage in the farming activities although, in Spring and Autumn, the other brethren would find themselves pressed into service to assist with sewing and reaping.  Around 115 acres of this farm land is now under short-term leasing and the rents are a source of support for the community.