Making the bread of life

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Ever wonder where your Communion comes from? Bet you didn’t know that it’s made on the Falls Road

The Sisters of Adoration on the Falls Road had a huge responsibility bestowed on them just over a year ago when they were offered the opportunity to make the Communion bread for the diocese of Down and Connor.

The Falls Road nuns took up the challenge and are now feeding the spiritual needs of parishioners from throughout the diocese in more ways than one.

The Sisters have been living on the Falls Road since 1981 and have sole responsibility in ensuring that every parish in the diocese is allocated a sufficient amount of Communion bread for the week.

Sister Mary Josephine explained the process: “Basically it is baked in the same way as all bread is, with flour and water.

“We put it through the oven for an hour and a half, it has to be cooled and damped overnight, it is then cut, weighed and packed for delivery.

“Some of the rotating plates in the oven have crosses engraved into them and some don't, but the only thing special about the process is the machine that cuts the bread, and, of course, the great satisfaction that the Sisters get from being involved in the process.”

And the nuns are also acutely aware of the huge responsibility that is on their shoulders when they make Communion wafers for the diocese of Down and Connor.

“When the bread is sent to the diocese it is still bread up until the point of consecration during Mass.

“Once it is consecrated it becomes Jesus and the spiritual food for the whole people of the diocese.”

Sister Mary Josephine is happy at her work. The task of making the bread, she says, is a full-time job but she is quick to add that the Sisters are privileged to have the chance to do so.

“The job unites us with our vocation of adoring Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and the work is done in the spirit of prayer.

“We get a great sense of satisfaction from the work because it is in tune with our lives, our chosen paths and that makes it all the more special.”

The Sisters took on the demanding job when the Contemplative Good Shepherd Sisters of the Ormeau Road decided to retire in October 2003 after long and faithful service.

“We took it on with great pleasure, we were absolutely delighted to do it,” said Sister Mary Josephine. The multi-talented nuns gave up their previous job of mounting reprints of byzantine paintings onto wooden backgrounds to take on the huge task.

The Sisters came to the Falls Road in the middle of the hunger strikes in 1981 and remain very happy that they can offer refuge to people who want to get away from it all.

"We have been an oasis of prayer throughout the Troubles. People always came to pray even if they had to wait for a lengthy period of time for the road to be cleared of debris and shattered glass from bombs.

“We are with people through their pain, joy and thanksgiving, and we like to think that we live similar to the way Jesus lived for the first thirty years of his life when he lived with Our Lady and Joseph in Nazareth, welcoming and listening to people when they needed it most.”

The Sister added that a lot of the people who come to pray are the same people who help them out on a voluntary basis.

“We have a lot of lay people who come in and help us with our work.

“They come from all walks of life, from different parts of the city and beyond and even though the work may be little, it is God's work and they, like us, get a lot of satisfaction from being involved in the holy process.”

In contrast to local parishes the Chapel of Adoration does not hold Mass on a Sunday – but it does have Masses at noon from Monday to Friday and on Saturdays at 10am.

Journalist:: Staff Reporter

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