The past few weeks have seen ongoing progress at Margarita, all in preparation for the real (building) work to come, soon we hope.
The past few weeks have seen ongoing progress at Margarita, all in preparation for the real (building) work to come, soon we hope.
By dint of hard work, the brothers have managed to get rid of the huge tree that had been left near the small house at "The Pearl". A recent photo showed Father Prior with the chainsaw. Well, for the time being, Father Prior is out of work (or rather, the chainsaw is!, Father Prior never having enough time for the mountains of work awaiting him everyday...) The tree is gone, transformed into firewood, and the briers are gone, transmuted into ashes and smoke.
The brothers are seen here saying the office of None last Thursday, as they prepared to finish up their day's work and head back to Lindisfarne.
Since 26 July the community has started clearing things out on their new property. Until we can get a large enough house built there, the plan is to go out once a week to tend to various needs around the land and prepare it to receive its monks.
Last Friday, the community said good-bye to the 8-seat Kia that it had been renting from the archdiocese since the beginning of the foundation. Father Prior was reminded of the early days at the end of last year when this car accompanied his baby steps in Tasmania and wishes her a bright future. The need to limit expenses required this separation.
This Sunday 30 July, Father Prior blessed the small house on our new property and the community shared its first meal there since settlement day. Three good friends shared the occasion with us and made it very special. Divine Providence gave us the joy of rainbows that were quite visible, and, it would seem, rare in this dry part of the island. It gives us courage to think that a new covenant has been made between Heaven and our fledgling community. Now, so much to do to get the land ready for its inhabitants!
"I will bring them into My holy mount, and will make them joyful in My house of prayer: their holocausts and their victims shall please Me upon My altar." These inspired words from the Prophet Isaiah (56:7), as the chapter verse for the monastic office of Sext on this feast of Saints Joachim and Anne, were being chanted by the brethren when the conveyancer rang to say that the settlement was complete for the purchase of what we hope will become our future monastery.
The news is that Notre Dame Priory is now owner of 64 acres of land in the small town of Rhyndaston, Tasmania, just 7 minutes north of Colebrook in the Coal River Valley. It is roughly 50 mn north of Hobart, and about 1 h 45 mn south of Launceston.
The photo which has been on the "News" page of this website featuring Archbishop Porteous, Father Prior and the community was actually taken from the property several weeks ago. The view, as you can see, is stunning. Even though it is not visible on that particular photo, Mount Wellington rising majestically over Hobart can be seen from the top of the land.
Below there are a few other shots showing the land and the small house which is on it. Before we can move in however, we will need to get other accommodations set up. Our work for the next weeks and months is cut out for us, but you will be hearing more about that!
This evening, the entire community is chanting the Te Deum in thanksgiving to Our Lady and St Joseph and with gratitude to the generous benefactor whose loan made the purchase possible, as well as to all other benefactors who continue to support our work. Please unite with us in giving thanks to the Lord. God love you all!
Upcoming visitors to the priory are in for a sight: Today on the solemnity of Our Holy Father St Benedict, our four postulants donned their newly made postulant habits. These are essentially a short habit going down to mid-thigh. It allows them to gradually get used to wearing distinctive religious garb and prepares them for the long habit and scapular which is still a few months down the road.
Father Prior has made his way back to Tasmania since Sunday afternoon. Having completed the retreat in Wales and the two retreats in Ireland, he went to the Abbey of Flavigny for two days where he was warmly welcomed by the abbot and community. The 6th of July was the 15th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood, and he was happy to celebrate it with the two confreres with whom he was ordained: Dom Bénigne Marie Gaillot-Drevon, now choir master of the abbey, and Dom Jean-Bernard Marie Bories, now novice master and subprior of the abbey.
That same day, Father Prior was invited by Abbot Antoine Marie Beauchef to speak to the community about the Tasmanian foundation. He did so for about and hour, showing photos and fielding questions. It was a blessed time, only too short. The next day, he flew back to Hobart, via London, Kuala Lumpur and Melbourne. With great joy he has been reunited to the small community of Notre-Dame.
After completing a first retreat in Pantasaph, Wales, with Fr John and Br Basil, Fr Prior is now in Ireland holding a second retreat at Ards Friary, Creeslough, Donegal. On the way there the three monks made a stopover at Silverstream Priory, Stamullen, County Meath. Fr Prior was blessed to meet Dom Mark Kirby shortly after his community moved to Ireland in 2012, and since then he has gone each year at least once to visit and help the fledgling group. This time around, he was delighted to see the great progress that has been made. In addition to the Prior, there is one solemnly professed monk who is a priest, two junior professed, three novices (one of whom is a priest) and three postulants, and many other knocking at the door. Even more important however is the official erection of the community which took place this year by the Bishop of Meath. Silverstream Priory is henceforth a fully approved and established monastic community of the Church. This is all very encouraging for us as well, as we set out on a path that is similar and hopefully will lead to the same goal. Si solum fiat!
Last Friday, Father Prior flew to Europe for a three week tour during which he will hold three retreats in the UK and Ireland in company with Fr Jean de Britto and Br Basil from the abbey of Flavigny. His first stop upon arrival in England was at St Michael's Abbey in Farnborough to which he is no stranger. In fact, since the first Flavigny retreats in England in 2006, the monks have made a halt at Farnborough just about every year, allowing them to keep up with Abbot Cuthbert and community.
Today, feast of Our Lady Help of Christians, was an important one for Notre Dame Priory. This afternoon, just before First Vespers of the Ascension, Father Prior welcomed officially as postulants Tomas Cannavo (Adelaide), Alec Hobbs (Brisbane), David McMahon (Sydney) and Graham Leach (Brisbane). The four men have just completed three months of aspirancy and have decided to take the next step and actually enter monastic life. A big step for each one of them, and also for their loved ones at home. Postulancy, like novitiate, of course involves no commitment on behalf of the candidate, but the significance of the moment is actually stepping into the community life and asking to begin formal initiation as a monk. As a concrete sign of their desire to pursue this path, they all were shorn of their hair, in the hope of being clothed with the Benedictine habit a few months down the road. Father Prior entrusts them, each and all, to your good prayers, thanking Our Lady for this special gift on her feast day.
Saturday 13 May will also be remembered as the day on which we received a lovely statue of St Joseph, offered by some generous benefactors from Northern Tasmania. We blessed the statue after the consecration to Our Lady, and he will henceforth, with his Immaculate Spouse, preside over the destiny of our community. The photo also shows an image of St Mary of the Cross, secondary patroness of the priory, and Bishop Willson, to whom we also entrust our endeavours to establish ourselves.
Today is the centenary of the first apparition of Mother Mary to the children of Fatima. It is also the centenary of the episcopal consecration of Eugenio Pacelli who would later endow her with a very beautiful Mass to honour her Immaculate Heart.
On this day, two significant events have taken place in Tasmania. First of all, Archbishop Julian Porteous consecrated Tasmania to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in a major ceremony in his cathedral of Hobart, which included the crowning of the Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima by His Grace himself, the Rosary recited while walking in procession around the cathedral with the statue, and the Litany of Loretto. In the text he used for the occasion and which began "I, Julian Porteous, eleventh bishop of the See of Hobart, do solemnly consecrate Tasmania to the Immaculate Heart of Mary", the archbishop prayed: "Let there be revealed once more the infinite power of Christ's redemption, the outpouring of His merciful love. May it destroy the power of sin and evil among us. May consciences be transformed to know the truth revealed by God and witnessed to in the Catholic Church."
The monks of Notre Dame Priory were honoured to be present on this momentous occasion, and they join with their archbishop in calling down the blessings of the Lady of Fatima upon all the inhabitants of this island.
The other significant event, much more circumscribed, was the consecration of Notre Dame Priory to the Immaculate Heart. The text used by Fr Prior for the occasion can be found under the "From the Prior" tab.
On Friday 12 May, Notre Dame Priory received a distinguished episcopal visitor in the person of the Most Reverend Geoffrey Jarrett, Bishop emeritus of Lismore. Bishop Jarrett, a longtime supporter of the project of an Australian Benedictine foundation, was in Hobart to take part in the internment ceremony of Bishop Robert William Willson, first bishop of Hobart (1842-1866) who died in England, and has finally been brought back, according to his wish, to Tasmania, to which he dedicated his life. Bishop Willson had the reputation of a good and holy bishop who showed great concern for all, especially the mentally ill and the convicts. He was instrumental in particular in closing down Norfolk Island as a convict establishment and also in the abolition of two particularly brutal forms of convict punishment. We ask him to intercede for us today. He had many challenges to face in his day when he laid all the infrastructure for the future archdiocese. May he help us in our efforts to provide Tasmania with a Benedictine monastery. We are grateful to Bishop Jarrett for giving us a bit of his time, and we look forward to seeing him again soon please God.
On the morning of 11 May, Notre Dame Priory was graced with a visit from its mistress and queen, Our Lady herself, under the guise of the pilgrim statue of Our Lady of Fatima. She was brought to us by Fr Gerard Ryan in company of Maree Triffett. Fr Gerard of the Confraternity of Christ the Priest is just starting a tour of Australian dioceses, and we were the first stop on the tour. Fr Gerard spoke quite eloquently of the place of devotion to Mary in our faith and of her apparitions in Fatima a century ago. He reminded us that the message of Fatima is an austere one: prayer and penance to save souls from hell, but he was prompt to add that this is the very message of the Gospel as taught by Our Lord Himself. We prayed together the Rosary and other devotions, had some silent prayer, then concluded with the Litany of Our Lady. This providential visit is part of our preparation for Saturday's centenary celebration of the first apparition of Fatima on which we will take part in the consecration of Tasmania to the Immaculate Heart by Archbishop Porteous in the cathedral of Hobart and the consecration of Notre Dame Priory which will take place the same evening here.
Fr Prior has just completed a 12-day pilgrimage in the Holy Land and will soon be back at the Priory. Some photos and commentaries will be shared soon under the "From the Prior" tab.
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.