Northern Ireland

Martina Purdy talks about her new life as a nun on Songs of Praise

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Media captionMartina Purdy spoke about her faith to the BBC's Songs of Praise programme

Martina Purdy could have been forgiven for seeking guidance from above in her role as BBC News NI political correspondent.

The high-wire negotiations and ferocious debates familiar to the territory have tested the faith of many a battle-hardened hack.

But even the most astute Stormont observer was flummoxed when she decided to swap the corridors of power for a life in the convent last October.

Ms Purdy joined the Adoration Sisters in west Belfast, after more than 20 years in journalism and now she has spoken of her new life for this Sunday's Songs of Praise.

Image caption Ms Purdy has joined the Adoration Sisters in west Belfast

"I suppose people were shocked when I announced what I was going to do but I had lived with it for a while," she said.


"I have always been a Catholic, but I think when I look back, I was really asleep in my faith compared to how it is now.

Image caption She previously covered high-profile political stories for BBC News NI

"It is quieter at times. We have silence at breakfast and most of our meals are in silence and we work in silence."

Ms Purdy was educated at a convent school and raised as a Catholic but has previously said she had no "calling" when she was younger.

Her journey deeper into faith began about eight years ago following a holiday to Peru when she thought about becoming an aid worker.

Image caption Ms Purdy and Ms Kelly join in a service inside the Adoration Sisters chapel

She says she has already experienced the benefits of her new commitment since joining the Adoration Sisters.


"People come to us for prayers and it is really a beautiful experience when someone comes to you," she said.

Image caption Elaine Kelly gave up her career as a lawyer to join the convent

"Sometimes they are coming in tears, because they are having a crisis in their life and just knowing that someone is praying for them, they leave with a smile, it is very uplifting and that's really a beautiful thing to do with your life.

Image caption Ms Purdy and Ms Kelly are now pursuing a different life of service

"I feel very fulfilled."

Image caption Elaine Kelly was a renowned lawyer in Northern Ireland before her life took a different path

As Songs of Praise reveals, Martina Purdy is not the only person who has left a high-level career recently for a role in the convent.

Final vows

Elaine Kelly was a renowned lawyer in Northern Ireland, but she is now hearing different pleas.

"I am no longer at the bar, I don't have the pressure of that, but for me I could see for a long time I was going deeper into prayer and becoming more contemplative," she said.

Image caption Ms Purdy and Ms Kelly have many years of preparation ahead of them, before they take their final vows

"Now I can fulfil that and that's something I can live out every day."

Ms Purdy and Ms Kelly have many years of preparation ahead of them, before they take their final vows.

Content in their new home, their new calling is just beginning.

You can see more of Martina's story on Sunday's Songs of Praise on BBC One NI at 16:00 BST.

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