A visitation carried out at the Silverstream Benedictine priory in County Meath has warned the community that the visitors are “very concerned” about its financial situation and the economic viability of the monastery.
The Silverstream community, which promotes traditional Catholicism and the Latin liturgy, was founded in 2012 by American monk Dom Mark Daniel Kirby. Before the visitation it had a community of 15 monks.
The visitation was ordered by Bishop Thomas Deenihan of Meath and conducted by Abbot Brendan Coffey OSB of Glenstal Abbey, Abbot Richard Purcell of Mount Melleray Abbey and Mgr Gearo´id Dullea of the diocese of Cork and Ross, who is a former secretary to the Irish bishops.
They reported that in 2016-19, the community spent more than €2.5m (£2.27m) in purchasing the property and renovating it, even though the monastery’s income in 2019 dropped by 50 per cent of what it was in each of the three previous years. Expenses have been rising by 20 per cent each year over the last four years.
In 2019 more than 80 per cent of the monastery’s income came from donations. In previous years, it was as high as 95 per cent.
The visitation report warns the community that the civil and legal structure of Silverstream Priory needs attention to make it compliant with civil law, the Revenue Commissioners, the Charity Governance Code and data protection legislation.
Other concerns focus on the monastery’s governance and failure to present annual accounts to Silverstream’s chapter for approval, or to present regular reports to the chapter on the state of each area of the monastery’s activities.
The Tablet understands that the canonical visitation remains open and that police in Ireland are investigating concerns relating to the monastery’s finances.
A spokesman for the Irish bishops said that Dom Kirby has returned to Silverstream Priory “as an ordinary member of the community, and is refraining from public ministry until the Garda investigation is complete”.