Archive for February, 2012

St Davids Day Holy Eucharist at 8am in the Herbert Chapel.

On the Evening of St Davids Day the Bishop of Monmouth will preach at Jesus College, Oxford. The first Principle of Jesus College, Dr David Lewis is buried in St Mary’s Priory in the chapel which bears his name. The Bishops sermon will appear here shortly.

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As work on the St Mary’s Priory Tower comes to a completion the scaffolding is starting to go down.

Meanwhile going back up on top – after its re-gilding – is the Cockerel weather vein.


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Fairtrade Fortnight

We are pleased to have the status of a Fairtrade Church and will mark Fairtrade Fortnight with a Sermon, by the Vicar, at the 9.30AM Family Service on Sunday March 4th. We will also be supporting the Abergavenny Faitrade Forums’ social event at the Methodist Church Hall, Castle Street on Tuesday, February 28th.

Fair trade  aims to help producers in developing or third world countries to make better trading conditions and promotes sustainability. The movement advocates the payment of a higher price to exporters as well as higher social and environmental standards. It focuses in particular on exports from developing( third world) countries to developed (first world)countries most notably handicrafts,cocoa, coffee, sugar, tea, honey, cotton, wine, fresh fruit and bananas, chocolate, flowers and gold.

At St Mary’s Priory we only use Fairtrade products at our events and encourage our parishioners to do likewise in their homes.

Fairtrade products are also used and sold at the Tithe Barn


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At Sunday Evensong in Lent we are looking at Chaplaincy – and its role in the mission and ministry of the church. Fr Mark was a University Chaplain and is a member of the Royal Army Chaplains Department, he gives an introduction to the series.

I speak of Chaplaincy as the three Ps. PRIEST, PASTOR & PROPHET

PASTOR: Relationships are  the rock on which chaplaincy is based. The Chaplain needs to be seen around, I have heard this referred to as ” loitering with intent, but not being a Christian stalker”. The roving nature of chaplaincy makes one more accessible- if you have a problem it is easier to arise is with some one in passing than it is tp pick up the ‘phone or call at the office.

PROPHET: Being the voice of the voiceless is the least obvious, but never-the less an important role of the Padre, as is being the moral conscious of the institution.

PRIEST: The people you Chaplain see you as their ‘vicar’ so they come to you to marry them, baptise them or their children. I have contacted more Funerals of young people, than I would like to have over the past 4 years, some were killed in Afghanistan, others took their lives and a sizable number died naturally.

The benefit of chaplains is three fold.

The Young people ( be they students or squadies) have an independent person to whom they can turn- some one semi-detached from the institution. A studt by Francis & Robbins between 2006-10 showed that 27% of those questioned had considered taking their own lives. Young people have it tough today! It is good if they feel there is some one there batting for them.

The Church would not come in to contact with many of these youngest if it waited for them to come to church. Yet statistics show  that ” churchgoers were more likely to feel they had a purpose in life than other young people”.

The Institution, be it an arm of the forces or a Higher Education institution benefits from improved moral and greater retention. The British Army has long valued the role of the Chaplain  in developing morals be it by Padres Hours or MAT6 or IDT11. This is about making youngsters good citizens.


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During Lent this year, the sermons at Evensong at St Mary’s will be held together by the common theme of the presence of the Church in the ‘world’ in the form of chaplaincy (or ‘sector ministry’, as it is also known). The hope is, as Fr Mark said in his February article, that we may gain a better insight into the value of this particular form of ministry to the Church and the institutions served by chaplains. Fr Mark has asked me to write briefly on my own experience of chaplaincy, which is not as chaplain but of chaplains’ ministry during my time in the army.

Some of you will know that, joining straight after leaving school, I was an officer in the German Army Military Police from 1987 to 2001 (retiring as Captain and Company Commander of a Staff & Support Company to go to Theological College in Mirfield in June 2001). During these years, I had eight major postings requiring me to move from one place to the other (not counting training courses of up to sixth months). That, and the nature of my work – a way of life more than a ‘job’, of course – meant that my ‘world’ was very different to that of most of my fellow Christians, some of whom on occasion viewed it as something ‘not quite right for a Christian’. The net result of all this was that I was hardly ever anywhere for long enough to build lasting friendships with members of local church congregations, nor found them necessarily aware or understanding of the challenges of my ‘way of life’.

Army chaplaincy was of enormous help: it gave me a way of living my faith that was adapted to the circumstances of my life, knew them and their challenges, and was there to support. It provided also an ‘oasis’ of faith in the midst of military life which is, of course, also full of people for whom faith is at best a ‘weird thing from the past’ – though, oddly enough perhaps, to this day I would say that I had some of the most meaningful conversations about the faith at night round the fire in camp, often with people who would never have such conversations with me now but were intrigued that I was ‘one of them’. Chaplaincy also gave us Christians a chance to reflect together on the moral and ethical challenges of being a Christian in the army, and I still recall with great gratitude the Officers’ Study Circle that used to meet for a residential twice a year to discuss the ethics of war and peace, to spend time together and to worship together. Finally, it proved to be the place where I discovered and discerned my vocation to the priesthood – and I do not think that this would have got anywhere without the padre at the NATO headquarters where I served at the time (even if he was RAF rather than Army.). At its best, then, military chaplaincy provided an experience of ‘true church’ in the midst of and alongside my military life; I wouldn’t be the same without it.                                                                          Fr Bernard



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Monastic days

NEXT DAY: February 29th

Please note None has moved forward to 14.15 to allow for a Funeral Service and Vespers will be sung at 17.10.


March 21st ( As it is in the Season of Lent  we will not say Compline or have a  Healing Service, we will join Our Lady & St Michael’s RC Church, Peny-y-pound  for Stations of the Cross at 19.30hrs)

May 2 & 30th
June 20th

July & August: No Monastic days

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The project to redesign the new website for St Mary’s Priory is almost complete and we are looking forward its launch at the end of the month.

The website, designed by local web designers David and Angela Siddall, will be much easier to navigate. It will be a dynamic site with links to blogs for thePriory ChurchTithe Barn and Priory Centre which can be regularly updated by the Church community and also include live Twitter feeds.

Menus for the Tithe Barn Foodhall and catering in the Priory Centre, including Wedding receptions, will be available to download as well as information and booking forms for school visits offered by Learning Service.

Tithe Barn manager, Richard Morgan, says “it has been a pleasure working with David and Angela throughout the project. From the outset they have understood the sense of community which is at the heart of St Mary’s Priory and have translated this into a very user-friendly website. We already have a number of followers for our blogs and interaction with Twitter users across the world and we hope to increase this when the website is launched at the end of the month.

“I am extremely grateful to the two local professional photographers, Tim Woodier and James Cunningham, who have contributed photographs for the new site and to members of St Mary’s Priory who have been proof reading the content.”

The launch of the website will be announced via Twitter.

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St David Lewis (not to be mistaken for Dr David Lewis the first Principle of Jesus College, Oxford who is buried at St Mary’s Priory) was born in Abergavenny in 1616. His father was Headmaster of Henry VIII Grammar School and his Great great grandfather Vicar of Abergavenny.

He was brought up as a Protestant but later became a Catholic.  He studied law in London and then went to Paris. Both his parents died in 1638 and that same year, David set off for Rome. He entered the Venerable English College on 6th November 1638 to prepare for ordination to the Sacred Priesthood David Lewis assumed the name of Charles Baker (A common practice in those days of persecution). He completed his studies, receiving Minor Orders in June 1641 and was ordained to the Priesthood on 20th July 1642.

David Baker (David Lewis grandson)  is famous as a mystic and writer. He was also instrumental in re-establishing the Benedictines in England.

He was made a Saint by Pope John Paul VI in 1970.

The next Monastic day at the ancient Benedictine Priory Church of St Mary Abergavenny is on February 29th.

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In his Pastoral Letter read today in all Churches in the Diocese of Monmouth, the  Bishop called on parishioners to fast on Ash Wednesday and at other times in Lent.

He encouraged the money saved to go to his Lent Appeal, which includes the Abergavenny Contact Centre.

A contact centre is a safe place where children from separated families can go to spend time with one or both of their parents. Mothers’ Union members and others act as volunteers at these centres and provide refreshments, toys and games as well as creating an atmosphere of hospitality and safety.  They also provide emotional support for the children and their parents.  Contact centres rely on donations and grants to cover their costs. The children’s contact centre opened in Abergavenny in January of this year. Supporting these centres will be supporting children and parents and helping the Mothers’ Union in our diocese in their ministry to support families in need.

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Lent at St Mary’s Priory

Ash Wednesday (February 22nd) Ashing & Holy Eucharist at 10am and 7.00pm

On Sunday evenings in Lent the preachers at the 6pm service will be or have been in chaplaincy roles. These sermons will unpack the role of sector chaplaincy and its value to the Church and the institutions in which they are based and show that church is not just what we do within the body of Christ.

February 26 An overview from the Vicar
March 4 Military Chaplaincy, the Deputy Assistant Chaplain General (Wales)
March 11 Prison Chaplaincy, Fr Raymond Haytor, Minor Canon and former Prison Chaplain
March 18 University Chaplaincy, Fr William Ritchie, Newport’s University
March 25 Hospital Chaplaincy, Fr Michael Marsden from Nevill Hall Hospital

On Monday’s in March we will welcome our RC brothers and sisters to say Compline at 8pm, and will join them at St Michael’s and Our Lady for Stations of the Cross at 7.30pm on Wednesdays.

The ACS Lent Daily Bible Study Guide is available for parishioners to take home to help them with their Lent devotions.

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