Brother Columba Tierney Born 3 June 1923 Entered 2 February 1947 Professed 7 August 1953 Died 23rd May 1985 Br Columba, Denis Tierney, was born in 1923 in Terryglass, Co. Tipperary. As a young man he was brought up on the family farm and took a keen interest in hurling. He entered the Cistercian Order at Roscrea, coming to Nunraw a year later to complete his novitiate and join the Nunraw Community which had just been founded. During his period in Simple Vows he had his first breakdown in health and the distressing sickness first appeared which was to afflict him for the rest of his life. He did valuable work on the farm, first with the dairy herd and then with the stock cattle. He also worked for a time in the vegetable garden. He had a deep devotion to the Daily Mass, Rosary and Stations of the Cross. He was also much interested in Irish Politics and Sport. By way of recreation he enjoyed listening to records of the Irish Rebel Songs which he knew in his youth. He kept a collection of these records in his room and they seemed to be a solace for him in his years of sickness. He had his own farm and when he made application to join the monastery his Parish Priest gave no indication of potential illness. He suffered from clinical depression but he persevered without wavering in his monastic vocation. His illness occasioned long stays in hospital. He would then have a convalescence with the families of his sisters in Birr and Terryglass, Co. Offaly. He is remembered for the gentle help he was to his young nephews at those times. His death in Haddington Hospital on May, 23rd, 1985 was a release from long suffering faithfully borne. The last year of his life had been spent in a Home where he had received the greatest care and attention from the nursing staff. Community Chronicle 13 June 1985 - Brother Columba was arguably the poorest of the poor in our community. He suffered from prolonged depressions and latterly from overweight due to the medication for that ailment. It became very difficult for him to join in the normal banter and activities that make up so much of community life. Yet he suffered for years with scarce a complaint. None could help him really, and often both he and we were distressed by the barrier his illness encircled him with. He was greatly impeded in communicating yet curiously aware of all that went on in community, as was revealed itself on the occasions when he could be engaged in conversation. He loved Ireland and never really acclimatised to Scotland let alone England. It is doubtful if he would have harmed any non-Irishman, but he loved rebel songs. He seems to have deeply felt the injustices that Ireland, in the past, suffered from the powers that be. One wonders if he should have ever been sent to the new monastery at Nunraw yet his suffering and illness did mysteriously draw us around him, on the other hand, to support him as best we could when the going was rough - and it was most days; on the other hand, some of us learnt a little about patience, compassion and became quite aware of the impenetrable mystery of God's dealings with our neighbour. His long stays in the hospitals of Herdmanflats and Roodlands expanded our appreciation of the really excellent care given him by the nurses and doctors. He was familiarly known as to them as Brother Joe. (Joseph Tierney). Thank God for our local hospitals with their expertise and practical charity - they were able to do for him what we could never have done as he became so helpless towards the end. Scottish Catholic Observer 7th June 1985 Community loss for Nunraw Abbey Bro. Columba The monks of Nunraw Abbey lost a member of their community on Saturday, May 25, when Bro. Columba (Denis Tierney) died in hospital. Bro. Columba, who would have been 62 this week, was born in Co. Tipperary and entered the community of Mount St. Joseph Roscrea in 1946. The next year he moved to Nunraw to complete his .Noviciate, and made his First Profession in 1949. Bro. Columba worked in the, Abbey's cow-house, dairy and vegetable garden, and returned. to the farm during his last years. Abbot Donald McGlynn described Bro. Columba as, "A man faithful to prayer and daily Mass. He was interested in all monastic news and had a quiet sense of humour. "His long years of illness, borne patiently, showed his strength of character and love of his monastic vocation." Abbot’s Tribute: Brother Columba: Consecration - Concentration “And from my flesh I will look on my God.” (Job). Like many of us, Br. Columba made intermittent efforts to keep a diary. A small diary remains from 1959. In it, apart from entries like the birth of a niece and other family news, most of the entries are appointments at hospitals. From that time, for almost thirty years, he suffered decreasing remission from ill health. When he entered the monastery on the 2nd February 1947 he consecrated his life to God. That consecration can be seen also as a concentration or responding to God’s call to service and praise. A concentration, because it meant putting aside so much of the multiplicity of interests provided by a busy life in the world and just concentrating on God - like the word ‘monologue’ the word ‘monk’ means ‘oneness of purpose, that single-mindedness in seeking God. But, nevertheless, I can tell you that even in a monastery life is full of diversity of interests and choices. Increasing ill health, in Br. Columba’s life, meant the dropping of so many possibilities open to healthier and stronger monks. His was therefore an even greater focus on that single objective of consecration to God. His habits of prayer and devotion were simple and basic but grasped so strongly that through all his set backs and trials they stood by him. So often, when his condition would have excused him completely he remained regular at daily Mass and in fulfilling his Brothers’ Office and to these he added his daily Rosary and Stations of the Cross. This is the story of a hidden life rendered even less noteworthy in terms of success or fame as the world would judge. But this is the story precious to the Lord, precious to us. “And from my flesh I will look on my God.” “From my flesh”, from my own life on earth, in all its conditions and circumstances, from all its uniqueness, “I will look on my God.’ Our vision of God will be in some kind of continuity with our life on earth. Br. Columba’s own particular story, his life of seeking God, a life of much suffering, will colour this final fulfilment. It will take on a certain quality from his family, his parents and brothers and sisters and all those who fostered his early days. It will have a certain quality from his life of service in the monastery and from the support and help he experienced from his brothers, and from the care and attention he received from the doctors and nurses to whom he was so indebted. We speak of the “Recording Angels” and that is as good a way as any other of saying that nothing of love and care is lost or forgotten in God’s plan. The graphic words of Job, “And from my flesh I will look on my God”, express a wonderful twofold understanding, the wonderful reality to come of seeing God, and the immediate potential of poor human flesh. The spiritual and lofty reality of the final vision rightly gets our first attention but the humbler aspect should not be forgotten. Part of what these words say is that our flesh, our life on earth is not just to be written off, is not just better forgotten as, perhaps Job, in all his afflictions, might have been tempted to feel. It is remarkable, that with only the glimmerings of an idea of an after life, Job, like other servants of God in the Old Testament, could live in faith and trust. Through the revelation of Christ we have even greater assurance that by His Cross and Resurrection our life is transformed, and therefore none of the joys and sorrows, the successes or failures, the injuries and the healings, the offence and the pardons of life are without importance and value in the story of each one. In the moment of sadness, we may have to admit that this vision of faith is not necessarily foremost in our feelings. Martha said to Jesus, “If you had been here, our brother would not have died.” Martha’s double edged complaint assumes that if Jesus had been there He would have prevented this death. What do you say when someone asks, “How could God allow thousands of lives to perish in floods on Bangladesh?” Martha was overlooking the fact that Jesus did not need to be present. The person who asks about natural disasters should also ask why does God enable the sun and moon to follow the daily course that secures our lives. It was by coming to share, not to eliminate, our condition as creatures that Christ has triumphed over death. It was necessary that Christ should suffer and so enter into His glory. In Jesus we place our trust, knowing that like Him, through death we also shall enter into God’s glory. Bro. Columba was a monk man faithful to prayer and to his monastic vocation to the end. His suffering brought him especially close to Jesus and so we pray that in Jesus he may come into the fullness of God’s glory.