Welcome back Br Josh

This morning we welcomed Br Josh back to the Community, following his return from New Zealand.

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A New Zealand citizen, Br Josh had to return home in order to renew his Visa, and so spent Christmas with his family.

Standing in for our Episcopal Visitor, Bishop Dominic OGS celebrated this morning’s Mass during which the ‘rite of welcome and re-commisioning’ took place.

He had earlier sworn his Oath if Canonical obedience before the Archdeacon of Monmouth.

Archdeacon of Monmouth (left) listens to Br Josh read his Oath
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Blessed Christmas

A Blessed Christmas to you all from all of us!

We will be taking a break from our Outreach Projects, and saying our Offices privately over the next few weeks.

Public saying of Offices will resume on January 8th.

All Age Worship will be back on the Feast of the Epiphany (January 6th) at 9.30am

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What are we up to this Advent?

This Advent we have got stuck in  with all the outreach activities of the churches in the town.

We’ve helped with assembling over 90 shoe boxes of gifts for dispatch to Moldova and are putting together gifts for teenagers who have recent left care here in Monmouthshire.

 

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We will be joining parishioners to sing Carols in local Old People’s Homes and in the local pubs, as we take out the message of Good News.

Our Prior and Sub Prior played key parts in the  Abergavenny and District Council of Churches ‘Scratch Nativity Walk’, yesterday. Can you spot them?

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Our Sub Prior has prepared a Meditation on the Advent themes in our Jesse window, to try and help people spend some time reflecting during the Advent Season.

 

Christingle on Christmas Eve

Advent will come to an end with our Annual Christingle Service and Nativity Play at 4pm on Christmas Eve – do join us for what is normally a fun service!

 

Sub Prior’s Reflection on New Monastic’s Conference

 

Upon being appointed Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby set himself three priorities for his archiepiscopate: The renewal of prayer and Religious Life throughout the church, the churches role in reconciliation as a peacemaker, and encouraging every Christian to share their faith. It was under the first of these headings that the New Monastic Leaders Conference was held last week at Lambeth Palace and St Andrew’s Church, Southwark.

Over thirty new monastic communities were represented from around the UK, as well as visitors from the USA and Australia.

At the welcome to the conference Rev’d Ian Mobsby of the New monastics network spoke passionately and eloquently about the role of new monasticism in recontextualising the church for a new generation who are seeking answers to questions of faith and seeking a sense of belonging and a face of humanity in a world where people are increasingly alienated. He also shared an exciting vision of new monastic communities as a means of meeting the need for apostolic ministry – the gathering together and sending of the people of God. The growth and spread of new monasticism, he argued, is a call for action against the enormous poverty in our society as individuals seek to follow a calling that gives a great sense of belonging, is profoundly transformative and deeply giving.

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The conference was structured around Ignatian principles of listening to others, which were led by the Chemin Neuf Community and the The St Thomas Way Community. We were invited to listen prayerfully and attentively, and we spent regular periods of companionable silence at the end of our small group sharing sessions: time to digest what had been discussed and to offer it to God, invoking the presence and action of the Holy Spirit to speak to us through our longing for community.

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Within the Ignatian principles we heard a Story of Consolation from the Northumbria Community, through which they shared the moments of great blessing and joy in the building of community. We heard stories of everyday miracles from unexpected places, and ways in which living in community can set people free to do what they are meant to be doing all their lives.

To balance this we also heard a Story of Desolation from a member of the Chemin Neuf Community, which offered a profound reflection on ministering to others from a place of desolation, as Jesus did on the cross. It addressed the fact that in new monasticism and in fresh expressions and pioneer ministry we take risks, often walking on ‘fault lines’ between communities, within communities, and in dangerous places which may bring us suffering, but which are ultimately for good. We were reminded that in striking out into new ground we are often called to stand in difficult places which can bring individuals and instiotutions top their limits, but are prophetic for the sake of the kingdom. Desolation, we were encouraged, may be a point on your journey as a community, but it is not the destination. It was Martin Luther King who coined the phrase ‘suffering has it’s own alchemy’.

We were greatly blessed by Archbishop Justin’s perspective through our plenary, and it was wonderful to hear a church leader so keen to be associated with new monastic communities and the movement of new monasticism in the church. ‘It’s entirely beyond our control’ he said ‘and that is a wonderful thing’. ‘If the church isn’t doing things that aren’t incomprehensible to people outside then it’s not doing what it should.’ The archbishop went on to emphasise his dedication to the message ‘communities matter’ and that by celebrating vocational community ‘celebration puts possibilities into peoples minds’. He went on to discuss the dedication of his chaplain to a vocations system that would offer a central website for those considering vocations to community alongside ordained ministry. It would be wonderful to think that the Church in Wales would be similarly forward thinking in committing to and affirming the message ‘communities matter’. Christian life lived in community is, Archbishop Justin concluded, ‘the aspect of the churches life which is purely about God’.

The conference was a wonderful opportunity to meet people from a wide variety of different new monastic communities, all of which took a very broad variety of incarnations. I came away convinced of the important work God has entrusted to us as a new monastic community here in this place, and excited that in ministering through those moments of both consolation and desolation we, the Holywell Community, are a part of something much bigger and more wonderful in God’s church than cannot yet be fully grasped or comprehended.Sub Prior

Br Seb reflects on his first two months with us

 

Two months after joining the Holywell Community, Brother Sebastian sat down with the editor  of the Parish Magazine  to talk about how he’s settling in.

 

Br Seb came to Abergavenny from the other side of the country – Thorpe-le-Soken, around five miles from the nearest beach on the east coast of Essex.

His parish priest there, Fr Jeremy Dowding, used to serve and worship at Holy Trinity so knows Abergavenny well and suggested this would be a good move for the 18-year-old, after leaving college where he’d been studying English and maths.

Seb, who recently featured in a Church of England campaign to raise awareness of living with autism and exploring vocation, says he found moving away from home and settling into a new environment a bit confusing.

But, he went on, it’s been a really good experience, meeting new people and learning new ways of church.

“I served in Thorpe for two years,” he said, “and it was similar but St Mary’s is much bigger and there are differences in how things are done.”

Living away from home has also been a new experience but Seb told himself he had to move on and feels he’s settled down quite quickly. He’s enjoys sharing with Br Josh and is missing him being there but is looking forward to when he returns from New Zealand after Christmas.

“I tell myself any person my age would love to be living in a four-bedroomed house by themselves,” he said.

Seb has also had lots of new experiences since joining the Community – he assists with verging in funerals and is now reading the lessons, having never done that before.

“It took a lot of practice but I think I’m getting the hang of it now,” he said.

He also enjoys being part of the Crafty Women group, although he says it felt a bit odd at the beginning, being one of the only men there. But, he says, they are really good people and it hasn’t bothered him as much as he had thought it would.

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Br Seb with Fr Tom OSB at Buckfast Abbey

Little Footprints is another of his duties and, while Seb says he’s taking a bit of time to get to know the parents and toddlers but he’s getting there. The parents are lovely and the kids very good and they’re getting to know each other more. He also enjoys making the crafts and, according to Fr Tom, is very good at it.

As to the future, Seb is helping to plan the Christingle service and both he and Josh will play a big part in the Thy Kingdom Come initiative next year.

Summing up his time here so far, Seb said: “I’ve tried to do everything the best I can and everyone has been lovely; thank you for the welcome.

And discussing the Community at a recent joint wardens meeting, it was agreed that this charming young man has grown in confidence and become a valuable member of the Church.

 

Where are the old Holywell Lay Members now?

The Prior writes,

I regularly get asked about those who have previously been in the Holywell Community. ‘How are they?’ ‘What are they up to?’ Having been at the Monastic Taster Day at the weekend, I thought now was an opportune moment to share news of them….and their journey.

I was great to see Br Adrian (2016-18) recently when we visited Mucknell Abbey to collect the St Jospeh Icon. Adrian has just completed his first year of noviciate. He has clearly found his home there.

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Of the 6 at the recent Conference in Ty Mawr 2 were formerly with us : Joanna (2nd Left) and Br Adrian (far right)

After the recent postulants and novices Conference at Ty Mawr,  Joanna  (2017-18) visited us while dropping of a fellow conference member to the train. Many who have seen her at Ty Mawr confirmed the impression I got that she is very happy and contented there.

A few weeks ago I had Tea with Samuel ( 2014 -16) at the Hilton in Cardiff. He is now in his third and final year of Ordination Training. Following his Deaconing at the end of June, I have invited him to Deacon our End of Term / Feast of St Benedict Mass here on the evening of July 11th.

Jennii (2016-18) is working as a Parish Missioner in Aberavon. She is a regular visitor to Abergavenny and all seems to be well with her.

Amy (2014-16) and Michael (2015-17) have returned to the secular world. I spoke to both of them over the Summer . Amy was working as a Barmaid and Michael as a Librarian.

That leaves Simon (2016-17) who after gaining his BMus from Leeds has returned to the locality to live, while studying for his MMus at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff. Our former Concentor is now the Priory’s Deputy Director of Music.

 

 

 

GOOD TO BE PART OF MONASTIC TASTER DAY

The Prior Fr Mark and Br Seb joined other Anglican Religious at Anfield for their now annual Monastic Taster Day.

They travelled up to Liverpool the night before and were guests of the Sisters of Jesus Way, joining them for worship in the lovely chapel. SJW was formed by two Methodist Deacons. “Although the Community has become Anglican, you can sense the presence of the Wesleys in their worship”, said Fr Mark.

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Chapel lights on ready for Morning Prayer

Among the other Religious Communities represented were the Mirfield fathers, Franciscans, Society of St Marys, Sisters of Jesus Way, the Brothers at Crawley Down (CSWG), Order of the Holy Paraclete and Sisters of the Love of God.

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Mass was said during the day by Bishop Glyn Webster in the Church of St Columba.

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We are excited to have been asked to host next year’s Taster Day here in Abergavenny.

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