Nicholas O’Keeffe has decided to retire from his commitment as a publically professed hermit and to leave St. Mary’s Place of Solitude and Prayer. He plans to begin living in retirement in Stephenville by August 1, 2012.

Nicholas O’Keeffe was ordained a priest for the Society of African Missions on December 20, 1965 and in 1977 he was incardinated as a Priest of the Diocese of St. George’s. In 1987, with the permission of the Diocesan bishop, he left parish ministry to investigate a call to ermitic life and in 1990 he began living and developing the facilities now known as St. Mary’s Place of Solitude and Prayer in the Codroy Valley. He made his first public commitment to the ermitic life in 1990 and in 1995, as part of his spiritual journey in the ermitic life, he applied for laicization and ceased all exercise of Ordained Priestly Ministry. This request for laicization was formally denied in 2009 on the grounds that in Church Law no grave matter was present to warrant such a dispensation.

St. Mary’s Place of Solitude and Prayer will continue to be a hermitage and Sheila O’Handley will continue to live her commitment to the ermitic life there, a commitment she first publically professed in 1993. Please join with us in praying for God’s blessings upon Nicholas O’Keeffe and Sheila O’Handley.