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Four Franciscan friars take on Ireland's toughest city

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Courtesy of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal

(Read caption) These Franciscan friars are working to renew an Irish city.

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• A local, slice-of-life story from a Monitor correspondent.

What happens when a former US Marine becomes a Franciscan friar and then goes on to found a monastery in the toughest district of Ireland’s toughest city?

In 2007, Father Sylvester and a small group of American friars from the Bronx, N.Y., did just that when they arrived in Limerick, Ireland. They left behind their former lives as a teacher, a soldier, a punk-rock singer, and a rapper to transform lives through prayer.

The urban district they live in, Moyross – a sea of burned-down and boarded-up houses – is always in the news for the wrong reasons: drugs, shootings, and stabbings. But the friars are working to change that. They have made a makeshift friary out of three abandoned houses in an attempt to bring spiritual renewal at the same level as a government-funded, multimillion-dollar regeneration program.

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