The community of Notre Dame Priory was pleased this past week to receive a visit from the Sisters of the Immaculata, a community of fervent young women dedicating their lives to prayer and parish work. They came to us amidst the joy of our paschal celebrations, inspiring us with deeper love for our Risen Saviour and encouraging us in our own life of liturgical praise and adoration. For more information about the sisters, go to their website at: http://sistersoftheimmaculata.org.au/
The community of Notre Dame Priory got a taste of what it was like for the Holy Family to spend the first Christmas in a stable — due to our distance from Colebrook and the difficulty involved in going back and forth, we decided to spend Holy Thursday to Easter Sunday in a shearing shed in Colebrook, thanks to the courtesy of some dear friends there. To tell the truth, it was much more comfortable than the stable of Bethlehem, but still, especially for the Queenslanders among us, getting up at 3:30 for Tenebrae in the cold Tasmanian night was an unusual experience. That didn't prevent the young community from celebrating all the ceremonies with the property solemnity. In particular the two-hour Tenebrae office on the last three days of the Great Week, and the afternoon celebrations of the Lord's Supper, the Mass of the Presanctified and the Paschal Vigil in the evening of Holy Saturday. A few friends were able to come and take part, but the beautiful St Patrick's Church was for the most part empty. The cross was not absent, as our dear sacristan Tomas came down with a virus on Holy Tuesday, leaving him less efficient than usual in this all-important task for Holy Week. On Holy Saturday afternoon, Father Prior started feeling the cold aches of what feels like a flue bug. At this hour on Easter Sunday afternoon, he is feeling a little better, but only the next few days will tell...
We wish each and everyone of you all the blessings of Paschaltide. As a humble present, here a few shots of our ceremonies in Colebrook (as well as the temporary "pop-up priory"!
This evening Father Prior was invited to deliver a lecture for the Christopher Dawson Centre for Cultural Studies in Hobart. The topic was The Benedictine Contribution to Western Christianity. The aspirants joined Father for this talk at which among others, were present His Grace Archbishop Porteous and the president of the Centre, Doctor David Daintree. The text can be found under "From the Prior". Here are some photos:
Today our small community was delighted to welcome our beloved Archbishop for "High Tea". This is the first time His Grace was able to come and spend a good amount of time with us since our installation here in Lindisfarne. After a brief tour of the recently renovated house, our temporary home, we treated our distinguished guest to delicious scones with jam and tea, all prepared with much diligence by the kitchen team (Fr Prior having dispensed from Lenten austerities for this very special occasion!).
His Grace made no secret of his joy in welcoming us to Hobart. He insisted upon the role of monastic communities to keep the faith alive and ward off the powers of darkness. All of us were honoured by his presence and we look forward to next time. In the meantime, we felt encouraged to pursue our life of prayer and work for the salvation of souls and the glorification of God, all through Mary Immaculate.
Over the weekend aspirants David and Matt were privileged to take part in the first pilgrimage organised by Archbishop Porteous from the historic church of St John's in Richmond to the equally historic church of St Patrick's in Colebrook. A good group of pilgrims joined the archbishop, including several religious sisters from the diocese. We are happy the Priory was represented at this event. The rest of us had our usual morning Mass in Colebrook before enjoying a Sunday afternoon walk in the hot Tasmanian sun. Today, we return to celebrate St Joseph and also hope to pay a visit to a couple of the wineries in the Coal River Valley. Fr Prior seems to be of the mind that we need nothing short of a good Tasmanian wine for the altar.... We shall see...
After a week of deeper prayerful reflection on the mysteries of our faith under the guidance of St Benedict and St Ignatius, the monks are now gearing themselves up for the work that lies ahead. Two things in particular are going to keep them quite occupied in the coming weeks. First and foremost, the search for a stable home. Several properties will receive our visit in the coming days and weeks. Please keep this in your prayer intentions, asking St Joseph to show us where we need to be. Second, we are preparing the first edition of our monthly newsletter, and part of that is getting started on a database with names and addresses. But in the midst of the work, the Lord give us many joys: this week we look forward to celebrating the great feasts of St Joseph and St Benedict back to back and reflecting on all these two great saints have to teach us in our monastic life.
Slowly but surely the small community of Notre Dame Priory is settling in. Our temporary accommodations in Lindisfarne are gradually taking on the appearance and atmosphere of a Benedictine monastery, with the sound of the bell punctuating our existence seven times day. The aspirants now each have their allotted "obedience", meaning their specific task within the community. This being so, the community will be on retreat next week, 12 to 17 March, allowing each of us some extra time of personal prayer and contemplation before we attack the big week of four first class feasts (St Patrick on 17 March, St Joseph this year on the 20th, St Benedict on the 21st and the Annunciation on the 25th.) The monks continue to pray the Litany of St Joseph each day, adding to it the Nine Memorares. With Our Lady and St Joseph behind us, we are confident that we will find the proper place for establishing our community. Thank you for uniting with us in prayer, and please spread the word!
On this first day of March, the monks of Notre Dame Priory are starting a Thirty Day Novena to St Joseph for the very important intention of finding the spot in Tasmania chosen by Almighty God for the definitive establishment of our monastery. We are provisionally located in Lindisfarne, a suburb of Hobart, in a house provided by the archdiocese. But we must in the coming months find other accommodations. There are many potential sites, with pros and cons in all of them. In the end, the decision will fall to Father Prior who is having recourse to the advice of many good and competent persons. But please unite with us; unite your penances with the novena which will consist of reciting each day of this month the Litany of Saint Joseph for this intention. Beg our good patron St Joseph to show us the way, to open the doors, to provide us with all that we need in order to come to the best possible decision, and also that we will have the financial means of achieving it. In that way, we are confident that our prayers will be answered and that we will be able to come to a decision about our next move.
Wednesday 22 February 2017, feast of the Chair of St Peter, saw a crowd of 150 people make their way to a small, but exquisite neo-gothic church in the town of Colebrook Tasmania. They came to take part in a Solemn Mass of Inauguration for a new Benedictine Monastic foundation in Tasmania. The Solemn Mass was offered by Father Prior, Dom Pius Noonan, assisted by Fr Terence Naughtin who, in spite of a recent operation, was able to serve as deacon and Fr Glen Tatersall who served as subdeacon. His Grace Archbishop Julian Porteous attended in choir and was assisted by the Vicar General, Fr Michael Tate, and the Parish Priest, Fr Terry Rush. Many other priests and religious were in attendance, and faithful from all over Tasmania, and from as far away as Perth. A luncheon was offered by the young community in the nearby town hall, at which Fr Prior introduced the five candidates to monastic life and Archbishop Julian proposed a toast, asking many blessings upon Notre Dame Priory. More photos to come!
Yesterday, 20th February, Fr Prior returned to Hobart where he was met by several young men, candidates to monastic life. Their first task, after thanking Divine Providence for bringing them to these shores, was to move into the provisional accommodations provided for them by the archdiocese of Hobart (see photos). The house, a former presbytery, is a beautiful one, recently renovated to welcome the community. The task of the first days will be to get settled into the house and get it ready for the daily monastic rhythm of prayer, study and work. Today however, the 21st, all our energies will be directed towards Colebrook where the Solemn Mass of inauguration will be celebrated tomorrow.
Our final retreat for this summer session in Brisbane found 22 men gathered together in Mercy Place from 14 to 19th February. The final day coincided with Sexagesima Sunday, on which the Lord expounds to us the parable of the sower of the seed. We pray that this retreat has sowed some good seeds and that they will grow in fertile ground!
Fr Prior, in company with Fr John, just spent several days in Hobart to oversee preparations for foundation day. It was Fr John's first time to Tasmania. Unfortunately the time was limited, and he did not get very far (just up to the top of Mount Wellington! See photo). But we hope he shall return. In the meantime, today both are flying to Brisbane for the two retreats to be held at Mercy Place, Bardon. Please keep this in your prayers. Finally, if you are intending to come to the Foundation Day Mass in Colebrook on 22 Feb, and if you have not yet done so, please send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org. See you there!
The fourth and final Hartzer Park retreat has just ended, with 43 ladies participating. It was a fitting conclusion to an intense month for us, with many joys and many challenges. We offer thanks to Our Lady for leading us at each step and for helping us share something of what we have received with so many souls. It is significant that the feast of the Purification and the Presentation comes to, as it were, crown all these efforts. But about that, more will be found in the comings under the "From the Prior" button.
My first Australia day was spent with Fr John and a fine group of 33 retreatants in Hartzer Park. Every retreat reminds us that an authentic conversion to the truly Christian way of life incites us to rise from the ashes of past sins, and move forward on the path to eternal life. Many of us can relate perfectly with the experience so beautifully expounded by St Augustine, and which retreatants will remember as being inscribed in the breakfast room at Hartzer Park:
"Late have I love Thee, O Beauty, every ancient, ever new! Late have I loved Thee! For behold, Thou wert within me, and I outside. And I sought Thee outside. And in my loneliness, I fell upon the lovely things that Thou hast made. Thou wert with me and I was not with Thee. I was kept from Thee by those things. Yet had they not been in Thee they would not have been at all. Thou didst call and cry to me and break open my deafness. And Thou didst send forth Thy beams which shine upon me and chase away my blindness. Thou didst breathe fragrance upon me and I drew in my breath. And do now pant for Thee: I tasted Thee and do now hunger and thirst for Thee. Thou didst touch me, and I have burned for Thy peace."
Yesterday, a group of 29 men finished a five-day retreat at Hartzer Park centre. The heat was excessive the first couple days, but during confessions on the second afternoon, the temperature went down suddenly about 20 degrees. Coincidence? Perhaps. But I couldn't refrain from reminding the group that we pray to the Holy Spirit in the sequence of Pentecost that he be "in aestu temperies", that is, refreshment in the heat, meaning that the grace of the Holy Spirit calms down the heat of our passions and keeps us from falling into sin. Whatever the case with the weather, one thing is sure: there was an abundant outpouring of the grace of the Holy Spirit during this beautiful retreat. Deo gratias! Tomorrow, we start over again, same place, with a larger group still. Please pray for retreatants and directors alike.
Today we complete our first three-day retreat for ladies here at Hartzer Park, Bowral, NSW. Divine Providence has so willed that this retreat coincide with the patronal feast of Notre Dame Priory. We give thanks to her for all the many graces received over the last few days, and we entrust to her maternal protection each and every one of the 46 ladies, of all ages and walks of life, whom we were blessed to host and serve in the gorgeous setting of Hartzer Park. Fr John de Britto, whom many of you know, was here for the occasion, and we were capably helped by David McMahon. Please keep these ladies in your prayers, and keep geared up in prayer for the next 2 and a half weeks which will see two 5-day men's retreats, and another 3-day ladies retreat here in Hartzer Park (dates are available at "Retreats" button).
Fr Prior was recently able to visit St Patrick's Church in Colebrook with one of the candidates to monastic life. The goal of their visit was to make preparations for the ceremony of 22 February. They also visited the large presbytery in the Hobart area (see photo) in which they will spend the first months of the foundation, until they can establish a residence in Colebrook.
Please God, on the feast of the Chair of St Peter, Wednesday 22 February at 11 AM, the beautiful Church of St Patrick in Colebrook, Tasmania, will host a Solemn High Mass in the extraordinary form to mark the official opening day of the Benedictine foundation. The Mass will be offered by Fr Prior, while His Grace Archbishop Porteous will preside in choir and preach for the occasion. All are invited to this eventful ceremony which will be followed by a luncheon in the nearby town hall.
Colebrook may very well prove to be the place where the community establishes itself. At this stage, the most probable is that it will be provisionally located in the Hobart area while an adequate site and quarters in or near Colebrook can be set up for the community.
After several days of meetings in Hobart, Fr Prior drove north to visit a few properties there and become acquainted with the Catholic community in and around Launceston. He returned to Hobart the day before yesterday and is presently looking at sites in the Southern Midlands.
Fr Prior left Flavigny on 16 November, arriving, after unexpected delays, on the 18th, feast of the dedication of the Basilicas of SS Peter and Paul. After a brief stay in NSW, he is now in Tasmania to set up the foundation. Monday and Tuesday of this week were spent in working sessions with representatives from the archdiocese, looking into legal and ecclesiastical matters. Fr Prior was also able to visit potential sites where the foundation could begin early next year. His sight-seeing and travels will continue in the next days and weeks.