Evening Services this week

We are looking forward to being part of the Festival of Liturgical Music at the Priory Church this week, but the Festival means our Evening Prayer will be at a later hour.


Find out more here


Initial Retreat: August 24th – 26th

Following the Commissioning Service and a couple of days of Induction the Community will be on Retreat at Llangasty Retreat House from Thursday – Saturday.

Llangasty Retreat House Chapel

The Prior, Fr Mark said “We use Llangasty every other year for our initial retreat, it is a very special place in which we can reflect on how the Rule of St Benedict makes us better disciples of Christ”.

The Community will be joined by their Episcopal Visitor, Bishop Richard and his wife Julie for Mass and Lunch on Saturday.

Feast of BVM Celebrated and new Holywell Community Commissioned.

St Mary's Priory, Abergavenny

On the Sunday (August 20th) in the Octave of the Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary our celebration of our Patronal Festival came to its climax.

IMG_3203.JPG Srs Jennii & Joanna swear their Oaths to the Bishop prior to the service

With The Bishop of Monmouth (The Holywell Community’s Episcopal Visitor) Celebrating and Preaching  we gathered for a Eucharist sung by our Holiday Choir and attended by Anglicans from across Abergavenny.

In the presence of  Sisters from the TyMawr Convent, the High Sheriff of Gwent, The Chairman of Monmouthshire County Council and  The Mayoress of Abergavenny ; Joanna Hollins was Commissioned  and Jennii Shaw was Re-commissioned as Lay Members of the Holywell Community. Also Fr Tom Bates appointment as Sub Prior was recognised prior to his formal Licensing later.

Having heard a portion of the Rule of St Benedict read to them by the Prior, Canon Mark Soady, Bishop Richard…

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Episcopal-Visitor’s Sermon at Community Commissioning Service

Speaking at the Commissioning of the new Community Bishop Richard mentioned his joy that the Community was going in to its fourth year.

Galatians 4:6

And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”


Bishop Richard said:

“Today we as we celebrate the commissioning of the Holywell Community we remember our life in Christ. As Paul says  we are adopted children – because there is only one natural son – Jesus.  But through God’s generous love we have also become sons and daughters. Jesus is our Lord and also our brother.  A reminder that at the core of the Christian life is relationship. Not of blood, but of the spirit.

The joy of the Holywell Community is its intention to live out the Christian way as brothers and sisters in Christ  The rule they follow may be Benedictine but the spirit will be found practically in family life, the household of faith.

I am overjoyed that the community is entering into another year of commitment.  There have been testing times – aren’t there always?  But through it has shone the strength of belonging together as brothers and sisters in Christ.  It’s a strength founded in actual love, the grounded love of God who has committed himself to us.

One of the disappointments of the church is that it does not always demonstrate this incarnational love.  We can easily live with idealism and theological supposition – which can easily be accepted or discarded, but it is only in the transforming of a human being – becoming a brother, a sister in Christ that we see the truth of God’s love in action.


Bishop Richard with the Prior

Throwing young people together, to pray, worship, eat and live together is a way of testing the truth!  It could be like Big Brother – an experiment in life together; the difference, this is real and the test is to see the transformation that can be revealed.  Benedict called it the school in the Lord’s service. The Holywell community are taking seriously their adoption and it’s implications.

Which also leads to the question – what is the purpose of the community in relation to the congregations in Abergavenny?  How do we explore together, as the wider faith community, the vocation of our life together as adopted brothers and sisters?

What characterises our life together is holiness.  Not in the rather exclusive way of being set apart.  Rather, the opposite, being throughly involved with each other and God’s world. Holiness is not a dead, pale, attribute – it is totally life giving and transforming.  Today we celebrate Holy Mary.  Mary’s exclusivity, as the mother of Jesus, makes her inclusive for all. She is mother, disciple extraordinaire, whose gift of unconditional love is for all and also as a vibrant model of holiness.


So the Holywell Community, as it lives out the rule of Benedict, works in the Lord’s service which is found in good works but also in the shining of holiness.  Now the members of the community, past and present, would not easily be described as holy in the old fashioned way: I could not see any them as saintly!  And that’s great!  Because God doesn’t want us to be saintly, he wants us to be saints, dwelling in his love and being beacons of that love.  The test should be – is my view of life, my experience of life, better because of being with other Holy people?  That’s what we work towards, not by striving, but on the contrary relaxing and letting God work. It’s good to remind ourselves that you don’t have to work at being a brother or a sister, you just are.  And at is best, that how we can be.  So to the members of the Holywell Community, to all of us here, brothers and sisters in Christ, live well, live holy lives so God delights in his family and continues to bless us with his goodness.

The Commissioning of the Community

On Sunday, August 20th at 11am  our Epsicopal Visitor (Richard,Bishop of Monmouth) will Celebrate and Preach at a Sung Eucharist at St Mary’s Priory church, during which the Holywell Community will Commissioned  for the coming year. The service will be sung by the Priory’s Holiday Choir.

During the service Fr Tom Bates will be admitted as acting Sub Prior, prior to his licensing in October, and Sr Joanna will be Commissioned alongside Sr Jennii,  who returns for her second year.

Fr Tom & Sr Joanna 

In attendance will be  Civic Leaders and sisters representing the Ty Mawr Convent.


The Episcopal Visitor & The Prior

Following the service there will be  a Picnic Lunch on the Vicarage Lawns.


We are pleased to announce that one of our Associates Fr Tom Bates is to be our new Sub Prior.


The Old ( Deacon Sarah) and New (Fr Tom)

Commenting on his appointment Fr Tom said:

Having been involved in the Holywell Community from its beginning as a priest associate I am absolutely thrilled to be coming to Abergavenny to take up the role of sub-prior. I first came to Abergavenny on placement during my time at theological college. The warm welcome and encouragement I received from Fr Mark and the parish nurtured my own sense of vocation, and I’m now excited at the opportunity to be committed to helping others discern their vocational pathway within the Holywell Community. It is also a real privilege to be able to contribute something of myself to a parish that has been so instrumental in my own calling. I am passionate about the role that new monasticism can play in witnessing to the Christian faith and in reaching out in mission in our society, and I am looking forward to exploring together the great potential the ministry of the Holywell Community can offer, both in Abergavenny and in the broader church.

Welcoming the appointment the Prior Fr Mark said

In Tom we have a faithful dedicated Priest who understands the Rule of St Benedict fully.  Hospitality is at the very heart of all Tom does.

We as a Community have very happy memories of being on the Merthyr Tydfil Mission with him.

I consider us to be very  blessed to have him as our Sub-Prior.


Episcopal Visitor greets our new Sub Prior

Tom studied for the Priesthood at St Michael’s College, Llandaff and served his curacy in the Diocese of Llandaff. An excellent musician he was a Chorister at Peterborogh Cathedral before moving first to Portsmouth Cathedral and then Llandaff Cathedral as a Lay clerk. He studied at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama.

Commissioning Service on August 20th

The new Community Year will begin on August 20th (the Sunday in the Octave of the Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary) when our Episcopal Visitor, Bishop Richard Pain, will Preside, Preach and Commission the Community for its work for the coming year.


Bishop Richard and the Community at last year’s Commissioning Service.

The service will be at St Mary’s Priory Church, Abergavenny at 11am, and is open to all.

Also during the Service Br Simon, our outgoing Concentor will be admitted as an Associate of the Community.

In the week after the Service the Community will have a period of Inductions and a Retreat at Llangasty Retreat House.