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The History of Our Mother House

            Let me tell you a story

The history of the Celtic Christian Church gives a good deal of information about the beginning use of the home we call "St. Ciaran's."   There are some personal stories behind it too, and I (Mother Cait) would love to share them with you.  As with most of us, our adult lives were shaped by our childhoods and families. 

Bishop Joe's family lived closely in a small house in North Dartmouth, MA.  His evenings were spent at the kitchen table studying with his three sisters.  Family life and learning were tied together.  Life-long learning was instilled by his parents.  Faith was passed to him by his parents and grandparents.  He in turn wanted to pass all this to our daughter, and we did.

My family was a bit different in that there was a large age gap between my older brothers and me.  I studied at the kitchen table alone, and would have much preferred to race inside to play the piano all evening!  My parents always emphasized hospitality to family and friends, and our door was always open.  They and my grandparents also passed the Faith to me through their example and teachings.

One night I remember having a vivid dream.  In the dream it was Sunday morning, and the telephone rang.  I was just a little girl, maybe around 6 or 7 years of age (in reality), and my mother was in the kitchen making the Sunday breakfast.  We'd just come home from Mass.  Mom told me to answer the phone.  I reached for it and greeted the Caller.  Over the phone I heard a man's voice say to me, "Hello, this is Jesus.  Tell your Mommy I will be coming for dinner tonight."  I hung up the phone and told my mother what he said.   OH!  Mom went wild, frantic!  What would she cook?  We'd need to clean every nook and cranny of the apartment.  We'd need to get our best clothes on...  On and on she went excited and overwhelmed by the news.  As dreams go, the day passed in a few moments, and the doorbell rang.  I knew somehow that I was the one to answer the door.   I walked through our living room into the foyer, and opened the door.  There, standing tall and quiet, with a broad gentle smile and such love in his eyes, was Jesus, come for dinner!   I opened the door wide...and then I woke up.

I've never forgotten that dream.  It brings me joy and tears whenever I think about it.  I've tried never to close the door either.

There is little that we have to leave our beautiful daughter Rose when the Lord calls us home.  We have experienced the hospitality and warm embrace of God's Love.  It has been graciously and generously given to us both, and to whom much is given much is required.  It is for us to share that Love with our guests.  Yet, as parents, it is our desire to leave our treasure, our Rose, the example of Celtic hospitality.  Welcome the stranger as Christ, and welcome the stranger as Christ would welcome him or her.  May our legacy be Love and Hospitality.  It is this exact legacy embraced by The Order of the Merciful Christ that we share with those who cross our path.

Thanks be to God!

Mother Cait Finnegan

A bit of the history of the house...

We've tried to keep our door open in hospitality since we formed our family in 1980.  The outgrowth of that has been a wealth of wonderful friends, and an extended family that spans thousands of miles.  We've welcomed the most unexpected people!  Authors, bishops, thieves, famous entertainers, pilgrims of various kinds, and an assortment of surprises!

For the past 29 years we have lived at our home in the Poconos in Pennsylvania, raising our daughter Rose and sharing it with both of her grandmothers until their deaths.   Starting first as a group home for special needs children, we took in 23 children between 1986 and 1996.  We also opened the family home to various other people over the years, particularly in Good Tidings Ministry

With the death of Mother Cait's mother, and our adult daughter moving on to university, we began to use our home more for quiet prayer, personal study, and  hospitality for members of the Celtic Christian Church, and other Churches, as well as for Good Tidings Ministry. 

Yes, it is still our family home.  Yes, we still live here.  Yet, it continues to be our way of welcoming Christ.  In 2006 severe rain storms hit the Pocono Mountain area, and Monroe County was declared a federal disaster area.  As a result of those storms our roof was badly damaged, and the ceilings in three rooms destroyed and caved in.  The county helped us replace the roof in the fall of 2006, just before the snows arrived.  The ceilings needed to wait. Sr Peggy did some major carpentry to help make the ceilings safe and keep out the cold until all could be repaired! They were finally completely repaired in 2008.  It took us several years, but the house is fully repaired, and we hope to remain here as our "place of resurrection."

Today it serves as the Mother House for The Order of the Merciful Christ.  
Today we are welcoming individuals for spiritual direction, marriage preparation, marriage counseling, and private day retreats or classes for the Celtic Christian Church formation program.  This is also a house of studies for some of our seminarians in the Celtic Christian Church.   The silence of the woods makes it a perfect location for prayer, meditation, and study.


A bit about St. Ciaran, and why he was chosen as the patron of this house.

Saint Ciaran of Saighir in County Offaly became a Christian while traveling in Europe.  When he returned to Ireland, he founded a monastery in Saighir.  Stories are told of his affinity with wild animals.  He was befriended by a wolf, a fox, and a badger while building his monastic settlement.  The site of the monastery (Saighir) was an ancient sacred site which already had a perpetually burning fire.  It is possible that it was a Christian site long before St. Patrick converted any Irish.  The ruins remain to this day.  His feast is celebrated on March 5th.

Our home is located on two acres of property in a development cut from the Delaware State Forest in the Poconos in Pennsylvania.  You can guess about the wildlife we see here.  Deer, birds, fox, turkeys, bear, squirrels, and an assortment of bug critters to try our Faith.  In addition to the outdoor fur family, we have added to our home many rescued dogs, cats, birds, bunnies, hamsters, guinea pigs, over the years, especially when our children were little.  However, we've always maintained the dogs and cat population and in the past 10 years Cait has added a few feathered friends to the family. 

Like St. Ciaran, who found companionship in the creatures who befriended him, Cait has found friends among those living in and around the house.  The beauty is that all of the critters get along.  It's a good lesson for us humans.  Ciaran obviously didn't limit his life to the animals who befriended him, but founded monastic communities as well!  Inspired by him and so many other Celtic saints who were on fire with the love of God, it is our dream to share in that same way-- on fire with the love of God.  Amen.

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