BBC correspondent asks for prayer as she quits journalism to join religious order

BBC's Martina Purdy, pictured here in 2011 with UTV's Marc Mallett, is to leave journalism to join a religious congregationDavid Young/PA Wire

Political correspondent for the BBC Martina Purdy has decided to leave her job of 15 years to join a "religious congregation".

"I know many people will not understand this decision. It is a decision that I have not come to lightly, but it is one that I make with love and great joy," Purdy said in a statement released on Friday.

"I ask for prayers as I embark on this path with all humility, faith and trust."

Purdy has been a journalist for almost a quarter of a century, having worked for the Irish News and Belfast Telegraph. In 1999, she joined BBC Northern Ireland's political team.

Describing her as "one of BBC NI's most talented and hardworking correspondents," the statement announcing Purdy's move says she has "decided to choose a completely different way of life".

"This is a very personal decision. I ask that the media respect my privacy and that of the religious congregation which I am entering, as I face up to the new challenges of my life," she said.

Yesterday, Purdy tweeted her thanks for the positive reaction to her move.