Holywell Community to be suspended from July11th 2020

The Sub Prior, Fr Tom announced to the parishioners in Abergavenny this weekend that the Holywell Community would be suspended from the end of the Community year on the Feast of St Benedict ie next Friday.

Fourth Sunday after Trinity, 5th July 2020

Dear Friends,

In the emotional rollercoaster of lockdown life we are going through some highs and lows. This week we have had the joys of being able to open St Mary’s once again and knowing that plans for re-opening Holy Trinity are in the pipeline.

Over the last six years Abergavenny has been blessed with the work of the Holywell Community. I’ve been very fortunate to be alongside Fr Mark and the various members of the Community for most of that time, and it has been a real privilege to watch vocations nurtured and to see the wide range of activities which have been enabled in the parish. I have often said that I wish every parish could have a new monastic community praying at its heart. Of course, it has not been without its challenges but when you are doing something brave, pioneering and authentic then we were bound to encounter them. Fr Mark has always been keen to point out that pioneers go out to new places, carving a way for others to follow. The Holywell Community was at the forefront of the new monastic movement, and the church in Abergavenny should be justly proud of what it has achieved in this harnessing of the Benedictine tradition of the parish.

Last week I thanked Nicolas and Nathaniel for all that they have done in their time here and during lockdown. On this coming Friday which is St Benedict’s feast day and the end of the Holywell year, the Community will come to its conclusion. We wish both Nicolas and Nathaniel well in their future adventures. The parish has much to be proud of in what has been accomplished through the Holywell Community, but most especially the vocations which have been nurtured and realized in the lives of its members (and which are still coming to fruition around the world!).

It is important that in the coming interregnum a new incumbent should be appointed who will come with their own gifts and vision to discern with you for the future of the parish. As Christians we acknowledge that when something comes to an end it is sad, but we know that after death comes the joy of the resurrection and new life in Christ. I will certainly look forward to hearing about the new life which Christ has planned for the Church in Abergavenny in its next chapter.

Jesus knows that what life can throw at us can wear us down and in that knowledge, he offers us his gracious invitation: ‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.’ As our collect this week says, it is through entrusting everything to Christ that we may pass through earthly busy-ness and keep our course firmly set on the things of heaven. I am reminded of that wonderful Compline prayer ‘protect us through the silent hours of this night so that we who are wearied by the changes and chances of this fleeting world may repose upon thy eternal changelessness.’

This year may have been a big year of change and upheaval, but there is one at the centre of our faith, our life together and our parish who never changes, and his promise is sure. To quote local poet Henry Vaughan whose words adorn the altar in St Mary’s:

“One who never changes Thy God, Thy life, Thy cure.”


Fr Tom

Sub Prior

Br Nicolas reflecting on “Thy Kingdom Come” week

The Church is on its way towards the feast of Pentecost, when we celebrate the birth of our Holy Mother Church and the dwelling of the Holy Spirit among us.

Long time ago, this feast was an incredible moment for all the disciples, as they were filled with the power of God, and those who were converted by them.

Since Ascension Day, we have been deeply praying the Christian initiative called ‘Thy Kingdom Come”. However, this year is particular, for we have been praying during the pandemic lockdown. Usually across the United Kingdom, we have a great variety of activities, worship time or family gatherings. Something that people can share together. This time of prayer this year has been difficult, we all experienced it.

However, though the churches are closed, our hearts are still open and in fire for the love of Jesus. Since the beginning of the lockdown, we all have experienced the gift of prayer at the most intimate level in our lives. We have relied even more on this unmeasurable gift. All the joy, the completeness that it provides.

Over the last years, I have tried to take my part in this great week of prayer, not suggesting the greatest activities to my priest all the time, I confess. I was too afraid to be disturbed in the “doing” of things in the “being” of the prayer. To keep our soul busy is not the best way to be aware of God’s presence around me. So, I have committed myself to pray for my family and friends, that the transforming love of Jesus Christ our Risen Lord may dwell in them. As a lay member of the Holywell Community, I have included my fellow brother Nathaniel, our sub-prior, episcopal visitor, diocesan bishop and all our dearly beloved parishioners. Brother Nathaniel and I have shared our time together in prayer for all.

I have been praying the Lord’s Prayer throughout the week, trying to put my own emotions and feelings into, to be closer to God in sincere honesty and love. This current situation of lockdown helps us to realise that the gift of prayer is at the heart of all Christian discipleship. Martin Luther called it the breathe of the Christian.

This situation exposed our frailty, how we need our neighbours to survive, that society is made of many faces, all important and necessary for the wellbeing of all. As we are all interconnected, we need each other to face this crisis. The path of reconciliation towards God cannot be achieved by ourselves, alone. In order to be fulfilled and happy, we need to be open to our neighbour and support them in prayers and deeds.

The Church being the Body of Christ, when one or two are praying, they aren’t actually alone, but surrounded by the Christian disciples across our cities and nations.

When we pray to God “Thy Kingdom Come”, we ask him to make his will done in our lives. We are in a relationship of trust and love with the Lord. We want him to be deeply praying among us. The earth and the heavens are working and praying together, when we let the Holy Spirit move among us and the Communion of Saints support us, in unity of faith. In prayer, there’s no need to hide ourselves, for the Lord wants us to be honest in all things we undertake. There’s no shame to feel, no guilty, for the Lord is welcoming us and mercifully forgive us.

Over the last days and weeks, we have been praying for the people working in health services, in supermarkets, for our local and national authorities dealing with this pandemic. We are all grateful for this sacrificial work they have accomplished on behalf of the nation and for our own safety.

The week of prayer isn’t over after Pentecost Sunday. “Thy Kingdom Come” are the words of Jesus himself, we need to take them for us a legacy. When the apostles asked how we are supposed to pray, Jesus didn’t give magical words but providing an openness to God. Thy will be done means our words are not the ultimate ones, that the Lord has the final words about this pandemic, all will be fine.

Jesus is with us in the pandemic. Let us continue to pray and be filled by his grace.


Easter 3: Fr Tom’s Pastoral Letter with Pew Leaflet and Choir Anthem

See Sub Prior’s announcement

St Mary's Priory Church, Abergavenny

Please click on the links below to read Fr Tom’s Pastoral Letter, which this week has a special announcement included, his additional notes and the Easter 3 Pew Leaflet.

There is also a link to the latest anthem from the St Mary’s Priory Virtual Choir.

Pastoral note for Easter 3[1]

Notes for Easter 3[2]

Easter 3.20[2] – Pew Leaflet

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Every cloud…

We can at least be thankful that the weather has provided a sunny setting for what would otherwise have been an even dismaller lock-down.

Back home, my cousin’s feijoa harvest

I first visited Abergavenny a year ago. I stayed for three days to see whether it might be a place where I felt called to spend a year of discernment. Then, too, there was glorious sunshine, and one of the locals told me it would be the only three days of sunshine here for a year. You were wrong! At the end of February, as the time finally came for me to move to Wales, I was rather apprehensive about leaving my New Zealand summer, as torrential floods had just started to drain in Wales. But as it turns out, my mother informs me it’s already consistently several degrees warmer in Abergavenny than it is back home. And she’s only just coming into feijoa season!

The 2020 lay members meet each other in Liverpool for the first time

But if the threat of pandemic is looming over this land as a metaphorical cloud, it can be helpful to look for silver linings. I’ve been overwhelmed with the number of kind-hearted expressions of concern from compassionate members of the community who are conscious of the fact that both I and brother Nicolas are isolated in a strange community at relative distance from our family and friends. But I think, in a sense, this is the best place we could be for it. I suspect that if we were back in the big smog of Auckland, or Paris, people would take it for granted that we have our families and friends around us, notwithstanding the fact that most friends have dispersed after university, and both of our dear mothers abandoned us for the countryside years ago. Here, though, the chocolates just keep appearing on the doorstep.

Br Nathaniel

Br Nicolas reflects on the community life

Alleluia Christ is risen! The Lord is risen indeed, alleluia!

Easter chapel in the house

Such an unusual and incredible week we have all experienced together, in our local communities and throughout the world.

Churches have been closed, corporal communities dismissed. We had to imagine how to be the Church in a different way.

As I reflect on the Day of the Resurrection, I wonder how important the life of a community has been to me throughout this week.

I have been isolated now for about two weeks, living day by day with the other brother of the community, Nathaniel.

Bringing news and love to parishioners

We followed our regular pattern of prayer, gathering in the chapel in the morning, midday, evening and night. We consciously and carefully followed the liturgical calendar and joyfully sung all the hymns of Holy Week.

The opportunity to deliver parochial magazine and bulletin to parishioners was an incredible source of strength to me. I deepened my knowledge and understanding of what it means to love one another, to help those in need and to really take care of the most vulnerable.

As I discern my vocation to the priesthood, the current situation nurtured deep inside me a pastoral heart of love towards my neighbours, for my fellow parishioners for whom I am a joyful servant.

Our Lord Jesus Christ taught us that there’s more love and happiness when we give and serve than when we receive and are served. This has been my reality.

Tenebrae in Holy Wednesday

Now, being part of a community is a huge responsibility. We belong to one another as the Body of Christ and we must take care and look after the well-being of our fellow citizens. St Paul teaches us that when one member of the Body suffers, the whole Body suffers. When one of us is in need, we must do something, even if we think what we do is small.

Throughout the week, I have increased the awareness of the needs of others. I have understood more deeply the bounds of love which unite us all. Within my own house with Brother Nathaniel and outside, I felt the presence of God working inside me, transforming me by the imperative of live, of sharing the joy of Christ with one another.

Life in community is broad, deep, exciting, demanding, exhausting. I suppose all kind of life including people around us is greatly enjoyable. It brings many graces.

Watch of Maundy Thursday

As a Christian, however, I must say that the life of this community, both the Holywell Community and the parish community (including the citizens of this town) must be supported first of all in our prayers.

Each day, Brother Nathaniel and I gather in our chapel to offer to God our hearts and lives. To make our spiritual sacrifice to the Lord, presenting our needs and contrite hearts. It is an enormous privilege and joy to know that we are joined by Fr Tom from his own vicarage and by so many throughout the world. Our individual or communal prayers are joined by the constant prayers of the whole Communion of Saints, alongside all these monks, nuns and friars who hold the same pattern of daily prayer.

Life in community is broad, but first of all local.

The work that the community has been able to do during the last couple of days enlightened the great reality of the life of Christ within this town.

Prayers during Good Friday

People are thirsty for Christ. They love him. They need him. As I do. Every single day of my life.

Life in community can be incredibly challenging. I have been used to live alone for a great part of my life. By it, I don’t mean I consciously withdrew myself from any social life, but as far as I am concerned, no one was really under “my care”. Now, time changed.

Today, I belong to the local community of Abergavenny. I devoted myself to the true and living God, to the spirit of the Rule of St Benedict, to obedience to my superior and care to my fellow brother.

This is freedom. Terrific. Demanding. Gorgeous.

As we enter into this great season of Easter, may we continue to love one another, to support one another, to serve one another.

Sancte Francisceora pro nobis

St Francis of Assisi prayed “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace”.

So be it.

Loving God, help me to love as you love us.

Redeeming God, transform my heart to become a true disciple.

Creator God, nurture in me the life and mind of a potential priest.

Living God, hold us all into your almighty hands of love.


Br Nicolas asks “Where is God” in this crisis

A reflection from the Saturday of Lazarus after John 11.

Palm cross to welcome our King

Today is traditionally called the Saturday of Lazarus. The readings from the lectionary mention the Gospel narrative of the brother of Mary and Martha of Bethany, Lazarus. We all know very well this story, when Jesus arrives at his friends’ village and finds a crowd of people weeping and crying aloud.

However, as we face this current situation of the coronavirus throughout the world, I suggest we take a bit of time to ponder and reflect on the meaning of Jesus weeping.

As we carefully read the Gospel according to John chapter 11, we see a multitude of faces coming to Jesus with all sorts of emotions. Some are rebuking him to not have been present during Lazarus’ illness. Others are weeping over his death, and some are utterly disturbed and abashed. We see Jesus being questioned. Where he has been, what he has done…

Today, the question we wonder is the same we wonder at any great calamity throughout the ages: “WHERE IS GOD?”

The answer isn’t that easy, it depends of our own theology, how we consider who God is. How he is at work in our world and within ourselves. We might consider some ways to answer to these questions if we gaze on Jesus.

Our Lord is suffering from his friend’s death. We read that Jesus is weeping, which happens to be the shorter verse in the whole Bible. Jesus is weeping, he is disturbed in his mind that the friend he knew and cared for has died. He is not a robot without any emotions and feeling nothing like you and I.

Our Lord Jesus is suffering from the absence of his friend. This is where the Incarnation leads Jesus.

Flesh. Blood. Bones.

To share and feel all the pattern of emotions than we all experience during our lives. Our Lord isn’t exempt of these.

In his sufferings, however, we find our hope and our strength. As we gaze on Jesus, we encounter God the Almighty taking care of us, weeping for us and suffering with us until the very end of our lives.

From death comes life. From betrayal comes trust. From doubt comes trust.

As Lazarus died, so is Jesus, led to the tomb.

As Peter betrayed him, so is he led to repentance and confidence at the Resurrection.

As Thomas doubted, so are we called to trust our Lord Jesus, who died and rose from the dead to save us.

Dearly beloved, at the question “WHERE IS GOD”, we can answer that GOD IS WITH US.

Jesus Christ is WITH US, for God is dwelling among us, taking care of us. He is not somewhere else than within our hearts and lives.

Hosanna to the Son of David

My prayer is that ALL OF US can encounter the Risen Lord when he will come to visit us.

From now on, let us walk ahead to Jerusalem, take up our branches and welcome the King of Salvation.

Hosanna to the Son of David!


Br Nicolas reflects on the current situation

Brother Nicolas gives somes theological insights concerning the current situation, as follows.

As I write these words, the whole country is now in quarantaine. The Church in Wales’ bishops decided to close our churches and suspend public worship. 

Well, our Lenten journey still continues toward the great joy of Easter. However, we are on a journey which is particularly difficult for many of us today. 

How can we reflect on what is happening to us today ? I have a few answers to provide, if I may. 

First, it is good to remember that our faith is stronger when the difficult time comes. After all, at the heart of our faith lies the death and crucifixion of Jesus. We aren’t meant to simply live our lives without any efforts. Our faith is here to put our whole selves into action. Through prayer, deeds and thoughts. 

Secondly, though we can’t worship corporately all together, God never ceases to be close to us in this difficult situation. We can think that isolation could reduce the strength of our love for him, or the deeds we do to help our neighbours. But it’s not the case. God is still working and abiding in us as ever before. In times of suffering and tribulation, God asks us to be faithful, to look at him and trust in his goodness. 

Thirdly, our prayer life is the means of what connects us all. Through prayer, common supplications and adoration, we keep alive our baptismal promises  and obey the Lord. The current situation is an interesting way to reflect on how important the gifts of community and worship are so intrinsic to our lives. 

This Lenten season, though incredibly challenging, is an incredibly opportunity to let God strengthen our faith. To develop a new pattern of prayer and actions. 

Brother Nathaniel and I have kept daily the Divine Office, as part of our Lenten discipline. We pray together. Eat together. Share the gifts we received from God with one another. Keeping on mind the needs of others, through food bank and prayers. 

Finally, let’s all remember that during this difficult time, we are not alone. God abides in us, as we abide in him. 
Let’s keep the faith. Now and forever. 


Holy Week Schedule online

Holy Week Facebook Live Stream Schedule

Palm Sunday

  • Parish Eucharist 10.30am

Holy Monday

  • 10am Stations of the Cross
  • 12pm Holy Eucharist
  • 7pm Compline and Reflection from the Holywell House

Holy Tuesday

  • 10am Stations of the Cross
  • 12pm Holy Eucharist
  • 7pm Compline and Reflection from the Holywell House

Holy Wednesday

  • 10am Stations of the Cross
  • 12pm Holy Eucharist
  • 7pm Tenebrae

Maundy Thursday

  • 10am Stations of the Cross
  • 7pm Eucharist of the Lord’s Supper
Last Year’s Easter garden

Good Friday

  • 10am Stations of the Cross
  • 2pm Liturgy of the Day

Holy Saturday

  • 7.30pm Paschal Fire
  • 8pm Paschal Vigil

Easter Day

  • 10.30am Parish Eucharist

Outreach to the Community during Covid-19

In addition to continuing the prayer life at St Mary’s Priory we will attempt to reach out to those most in need and try and support them during the self isolation period.

Today we will circulate fliers to all those living on the Holywell Estate offering our help and will also offer this help to the Church Community.


Fr Tom Sub Prior writes:

The Holywell Community will continue to pray the Divine Office at the usual times.

The Holywell Community will pray Vespers at 6pm on Sunday on behalf of the parish instead of evensong.

Hello Br Nathniel / Goodbye Fr Mark

Fr Mark Soady’s last duty today before standing down as our Prior was to admit our new Concentor Br Nathaniel.

As Concentor Br Nathaniel will be responsible for music in the Community. From New Zealand he formerly was an Organist in Liverpool.

Having made his promises he was admitted by Fr Mark and presented with his pectoral cross. His predecessor Simon Pratt greeted him and the Sub Prior read from the Rule of St Benedict.

Later, in front of a packed church, Fr Mark handed over his Pectoral Cross to Fr Tom, Sub Prior as he handed over to him the oversight of the Community.

As he did so he prayed:

“O Lord Jesus Christ, Good Shepherd and guardian of our souls, you have said ‘my yoke is easy and my burden light’. As I lay down this cross strengthen me to take up another as I continue my journey to you. Keep those you have entrusted to me faithful to your name and send them the spirit of truth to be their guide and comforter. Raise up a faithful pastor to guide and shepherd your flock in this place. For all that has been thanks. to all that will be, yes”.

After which the Community prayed over him, asking for God’s blessing on his future ministry.