Newfoundland, Canada
View from the hermitage

Nick O’Keeffe

Nick O'Keeffe PictureNick O’Keeffe hails from County Tipperary, Ireland where he grew up in the 40s and 50s.  Ordained a priest in 1965 he served in Nigeria (1966-1975) and in Newfoundland (1975-1987).  Nick holds degrees in the arts, philosophy and theology, a diploma in community development, and a masters in pastoral counseling.

From 1987 to 1989 Nick apprenticed to the Canadian potter Jack Ouellette at his studio in Arichat, Nova Scotia.

Nick experienced a call to the hermit life in 1983.  In 1989 his diocese in Newfoundland decided to establish a hermitage called Saint Mary’s Place of Solitude and Prayer and he has lived there ever since as a diocesan hermit supporting himself as a potter.

Nick is a quiet man with a keen interest in what’s happening in his world and a deep love of the mystical dimension of life.  Poetry speaks to his soul’s journey.


The Waking by Theodore Roethke

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.

We think by feeling.  What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Of those so close beside me, which are you?
God bless the Ground!  I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.

Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me; so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

This shaking keeps me steady.  I should know.
What falls away is always.  And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.

Guest's Comment

“The reverence for life and spirit here refreshed me. I am thankful that I found this place of solitude and prayer for I needed it. I had forgotten how to pray, and the first book I opened I found my way out of my forgetfulness. The view from the windows here are wide and I needed to widen my vision.”
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