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Website opens a window on Vittoriosa’s cloistered nuns

Sister Bernardette Xuereb always felt she wanted to be close to God so 26 years ago she took a friends’ advice and phoned the Vittoriosa cloister nuns.

Cloister nuns are the power station ... the heart of the Church

“I was at work when I phoned. When I hung up I was so happy that a colleague thought I was on the phone to a boyfriend for the first time... The first time I went to visit the convent, I was overcome with joy,” said Sr Bernardette who became a cloister nun at the age of 22.

Sr Bernardette, now 48, is among the nuns who shared the story of their vocation on the new website of the Monastery of Santa Skolastika in Vittoriosa – www.sorijietbenedittini.com.

The aim of the website, designed by Yasmine Formosa, is to reach out to young women out there who might be thinking about following their vocation.

“We have one aim – to help people learn more about us and attract new vocations. Some people don’t even know about us,” said Sr Anna Mallia who was 19 when she joined the convent 28 years ago.

Sr Anna feels that even though they chose to be cloistered, they have to remain in tune with what is happening outside their walls.

“Today, with modern technology, you have to keep up to date with what is happening out there even though we are in here,” she said.

Before the website was launched, the nuns had to convince their mother superior, or badessa as they call her, Sr Maria Tiralongo.

The new website allows a glimpse into a world of seclusion and prayer.The new website allows a glimpse into a world of seclusion and prayer.

The 82-year-old initially resisted the idea of opening up the convent to the World Wide Web but she eventually understood that it could help encourage more women to join them.

At the moment there are 15 nuns at the convent, aged between 40 and 86. The last time a nun joined was 20 years ago and Sr Maria would like nothing more than new vocations.

“Young women can come and live with us for a few days to try out our way of life,” she said.

Although she gave in to the website, Sr Maria is determined to ensure this will not jeopardise the very essence of being a cloister nun. The nuns, who got an internet connection last week, will only have access to their site and an e-mail address attached to it.

“We are cloister nuns. Our vocation is important to us. The world cannot live without prayers... You know what the Pope calls us? Cloister nuns are the power station.... the heart of the Church,” the jolly nun said.

Sr Maria was 20 when she stepped into the convent and has absolutely no regrets.

“Some people question why we choose to detach ourselves from the world. But we are not detached... We have a very intimate relationship with the world we pray for so much,” she said.

In fact, their motto is: pray and work. Their day starts at 4.30 a.m. with the morning prayer session followed by Mass at 7 a.m. They continue their day with a series of timed prayer sessions, chores, recreational time and silent-hours until they retire back into their rooms at about 9.30 p.m.

Their day is all mapped out on the website, which also introduces visitors to each of the 15 nuns.

A section of the site is dedicated to prayers where the public can click on the Rosary and say it with the nuns.

Through the site, people can also send e-mails to the nuns asking for prayers or advice. The nuns will be able to reply to these e-mails.

For more information phone the convent on 2180 7548 or 2180 3470 or visit the site.

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