Archive for April, 2014


May sees us hosting a number of Concerts in the Priory Church & Priory Centre. Why not join us for them !


Westminster College Choir & St Marys Priory Choir in Concert

May 9th at 7.30pm

Welsh Warrior Charity Concert

May 17th, 7pm Pontnewydd Male Voice Choir with Ben Powell  in church


Reves & Amore

May 18th, 2pm: Katherine Thomas (Harp) & Lawrence  Kempton (Violin) in the Priory Centre


In Quire & places where they sing

May 25th, 7pm:  Erebus Ensemble in church


Concert with Les Choeurs de St Maur

May 31st, 7pm in Church


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IT is likely that we will be hosting two Civic Services in St Mary’s Priory in June.

Abergavenny_Town_councilThe new Mayor Of Abergavenny Cllr Martin Hickman’s Civic Service will be held at the Priory Church on June 1st. Cllr Hickman has appointed Fr Malcolm Lane as his Chaplain and he will preach at the service which be led by the Vicar Fr Mark Soady.

Fr Malcolm was Cllr Hickman’s Chaplain when he last served as Mayor.

If local County Councillor John Prosser, currently Vice chair of Monmouthshire County Council, is elected as Chairman of the County Council as expected his Civic Service will be held a week later on June 8th.


The Preacher at this Service will be the Bishop of Monmouth. The Vicar who will act as the Chairman’s Chaplain will lead the service.

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Paschal Vigil Sermon

Speaking at the Paschal Vigil tonight (19.iv.14) Ordinand Tom Bates said:


‘By the side of the river he trotted as one trots, when very small, by the side of a man who holds one spell bound by exciting stories; and when tired at last, he sat on the bank, while the river still chatted on to him, a babbling procession of the best stories in the world, sent from the heart of the earth to be told at last to the insatiable sea.’


So says the author Kenneth Grahame of his character Mole in the Wind in the Willows as he discovers the river for the first time. I’ve often thought of that river when I’ve considered my own Christian journey. God is like the water in the river. As you travel along in the boat of life you may look out and see the river bank gliding past, and the trees and fields, but it is not until you look down and see the river itself that you realise it has been carrying you, guiding your course all the way.


With all our readings in the vigil tonight we are in the same position as the Mole. We journey alongside our divine Father as he unfolds to us ‘the best stories in the world’, the story of his salvation for us, sent from the heart of God, to be poured out for those who hunger, the insatiable sea of humanity. In those readings God shows us, if you like, a chart of the river, and says ‘look’, ‘see how I have carried you’ and ‘see how I will bring you home’. See how I flowed through the tributaries of Abraham, of Moses, of the prophets, of my people Israel. And in the same way as you may follow a mountain stream down hill in the sure knowledge that it will lead to a river, so did I flow through Jesus who carry you back to the great ocean of my love.’


We see this sense of progression in our liturgy too. The four parts of this Vigil move us through the gradual unfolding of the Paschal Mystery of Christ. The Paschal fire ‘dispels the darkness of this night’, the Liturgy of the Word reveals the course of God’s plan throughout salvation history. Through the waters of Baptism we become a part of that history, and in the Eucharist we unite ourselves to the risen Christ, celebrating his presence here amongst us as the Lamb that was slain.


On Thursday evening i touched briefly on the idea of a common Christian vocation, our calling to be Christ in our community. A stream or a river does not deny its nature to flow to the sea. Even if a stream is exceptionally beautiful and strong it cannot decide to journey to the sea on and of it’s own. It would be the equivalent to the image prophet Isaiah’s sheep ‘turning every one to there own way’. As we come here tonight we do so as tributaries of the Resurrected Body of Christ. Streams to whom have been given the living waters of the Good News which can bring the transformative and life giving power of Christ to all around us. We come here tonight to hear where we have come from, to know of what we are a part, and to reaffirm our commitment to the river that unites us through Christ, with Christ and In Christ, that river which through the rapids of Christ’s Passion, the plunge into the dark caves of his Death and the bursting forth of the wellsprings of his Resurrection will restore us to the ocean of God’s love ‘that the earth shall be filled with the Glory of God as the waters cover the sea.’


Having been around to all the churches this morning I’ve seen many of you busy preparing for this feast. Spectacular flower displays were being assembled, Lillies being coaxed into bloom, and people were busy spring cleaning with a wide variety of potions and creative looking improvised devices. Our churches have been transformed from the bare sepulchres of Good Friday and are bursting with beautiful images of spring and new life. Those of you who know ‘The Wind in the Willows’ will know that the story begins with a similar episode of spring cleaning.


Tom Bates

Tom Bates

“The mole had been working very hard all the morning, spring cleaning his little home. First with brooms, then with dusters; then on ladders and steps and chairs, with a brush and a pail full of whitewash; till he had dust in his throat and eyes, and splashes of whitewash all over his black fur, and an aching back and weary arms.” I’m sure after today many of you can identify with that feeling ‘Spring was moving in the air above and in in the earth below and around him, penetrating even his dark and lowly little house with its spirit of divine discontent and longing. It was small wonder, then, that he suddenly flung down his brush on the floor, said ‘Bother’ and ‘O blow!’ and also ‘Hang spring cleaning!’ and bolted out of the house without even waiting to put on his coat. Something up above was calling him imperiously’. Today something is indeed calling us, in the most profound way,something over and above our day to day lives. Something for which we should indeed throw down all that is holding us back, just as James and John left their nets in the boat and followed Christ, for the mole it was the call of spring and the river, for us it is the new life of Christ as we are called once again to be a part of ‘the river’ of God’s salvation history. Let us drop everything and as the mole toddled alongside the river, let us toddle alongside our divine father enrapt in the story of our salvation.


I saw water flowing from the right side of the temple unto the left side, it gave us life and his salvation, and the people sang with joyful praise, Alleluia Alleluia.


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Speaking at a service in Holy Trinity Church, Baker Street following the Ecumenical Good Friday March of Witness the Vicar Fr Mark Soady will say:

So far this year we have celebrated Diamond Wedding Anniversaries with three couples. What a statement of Christian love their life together has been.

One couple said they never go to bed  with an argument unresolved, all spoke of the need to give and take in their marriage. Such giving and taking is a sign of the sacrificial love in their hearts.

It is  such sacrificial love as this which caused  God the Son to die on the cross for us on that first Good Friday. Jesus love for us is so great that he is prepared to die so our sins can be forgiven – and we can experience eternal life.

Each of us, as Christians,  are called to emulate that sacrificial love , as the three couples who have celebrated their long married lives together have done.

May God give you the power to go and do like wise


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ON Good Friday the St Mary’s Priory Church Choir will sing their Musical Director, Tim Pratt’s new major choral work Stabat Mater at the Priory Church at 7pm. The Concert will be proceeded by the Good Friday Liturgy at 6pm.

A week later Tim Pratt will be awarded the Archbishop of Wales Award for Church Music by the Archbishop, Dr Barry Morgan.

Stabat Mater – the Sorrows of Mary- refers to her feelings at the foot 0f her son’s cross

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We are hosting two concerts at St Mary’s Priory this week.

On Wednesday evening the Priory Centre is the setting for Dragon Fly.

Marcia Crayford- Violin
Susie Meszaros-Viloa
Sarah Newbold- Flute
Katherine Thomas – Harp
Programme includes:

Tickets (£10) are available at the door or from the Tithe Barn.

In the Priory Church On Saturday you can hear St John’s Passion.

It is performed in the original German with projected subtitles in the English by Gwent Bach Choir.

Tickets area available at the Door or from Abergavenny Music

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In the last of the series Solicitor Rob Phillips reflected on how his faith impacts on his work in a very busy solicitors office.


My workplace is an office. A solicitors’ office. Its busy, as are most offices nowadays. There are all sorts of pressures. The phone rings from the moment I arrive in the morning. Letters have largely been replaced with e-mail and as a result no longer are response times measured in days – or even weeks – but rather in hours or perhaps minutes. A particular client of mine telephones to enquire why I haven’t responded if his e-mail doesn’t get an answer within 30 minutes of it having being sent. And if I’m not in the office – no matter I have a blackberry. It has a red light on the top which flashes when an e-mail is waiting to be read and which makes it almost impossible to resist the temptation to check and to respond. Solicitors live in the modern society where everyone expects instant communication and patience is often a dirty word.

The end of the financial year for most solicitors practices is the last day of April. A date we are fast approaching. These weeks are a particularly busy time. Fees targets must be met. Bills must be issued in time. Debts must be recovered. Probably worst of all new targets must be set for the following year. It seems a never ending circle – targets, pressure and stress. Where then is Christianity to be found in this workplace?

I have recently been involved in a tender exercise. The tender was for a Christian organisation that wished to review the way in which it spent its legal budget and presumably to test the market to ensure what it was spending in legal fees was competitive and represented good value. As you will all know, Christian organisations of all denominations hold assets which are invested with the purpose of generating an income for the organisation. This income is used to pay clergy pensions, it supports ministry, sometimes it pays for outreach programmes. The investment is often made in property and this is where I come in. My legal practice is in property law – more particularly the disputes that arise from the ownership of property. I work for the owners of large property portfolios. I undertake the litigation work that inevitably and necessarily flows from the ownership of such assets. The Christian organisation I was recently involved in a tender for is certainly not alone in investing in property. Far from it. No doubt each of us here has invested money in one way or another over the years in property – whether it be our own homes, investments in pension funds, insurance schemes or similar – all of these invest in property funds. There will have been legal disputes and litigation about those disputes. Where is Christianity to be found in this work?

Ron Phillips relaxing

Rob Phillips relaxing

What I have told you so far hopefully gives you some insight into what I do in my workplace. It is not however what I have recently been advised by an American business marketing consultant to say about what I do. On a recent training course I attended he told me that I needed an elevator pitch. This he explained was a 30 second – or ideally less – exposition of my “offering”. What I would say to someone I met in an elevator in the 30 seconds or so it took me to get from the ground floor to my destination floor. I suggested I say that I am a property litigation lawyer, that I manage court proceedings, draft court papers, represent clients at court, attend mediations, negotiate with other parties, write letters, make telephone calls. This was great he told me, but I needed to think more about the “message”. Having listened to what I did he told me that my elevator pitch, that 30 second conversation (or opportunity to sell myself as he would have it) the answer I should give in response to the question, so what do you do, should always begin with the phrase, “I find fast effective and efficient solutions to disputes involving land and buildings”. I’m not sure that I could ever bring myself to actually say that whether in an elevator or indeed anywhere else – certainly not without visibly cringing. But, perhaps ironically, it did ring a chord when it came to this lecture. It is almost exclusively true to say that clients come to me with an intention of resolving their disputes. They do not want to be involved in time consuming, stressful and, above all, expensive litigation. The legal profession has increasingly recognised over recent years that litigation is often not the most effective way of resolving legal disputes, certainly not legal disputes between commercial entities who will often have numerous other contracts and agreements with one another – a wider commercial relationship which it is mutually beneficial to maintain. People, businesses, government departments, Christian organisations do not want legal disputes. They want a resolution to their dispute. The Christian organisation which I have mentioned undertaking a tender exercise for is surely in the business of resolving disputes – more than this, they wish to resolve disputes in a manner which is consistent with their ethics policy, a policy that itself is derived from a detailed consideration of Christian teaching. Certainly there will be hard questions to be answered in terms of whether it is ethical to engage in litigation in certain circumstances. Ultimately however for a Christian organisation entrusted with assets, the parable of the talents gives clear guidance as to what is expected. I am sure that the Church and certainly our clergy would be less than impressed at a Representative Body which decided not to continue investing its assets in the fear of finding itself unable to answer a difficult question and as a result without money to pay pensions, and to support ministry. The assets must be well managed but ethically managed so that they grow, but not at the expense of living out the Christian gospel. Sometimes a hard balancing act, but one that the parable of the Talents surely tells us that we must attempt.

Church in Wales

What though of the client that does not have such religious convictions? How should a Christian lawyer respond? How do I respond? The legal profession is fundamentally client centred. Rules of professional conduct make it clear that, in almost all circumstances the interests of the client must come first. At first glance this may not seem problematic.

Isaiah Chapter 1 Verses 10 to 17 tell us:

Seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow”

Where the client is the oppressed, the orphan, the widow, it is easy to see how the Christian lawyer may put the interests of his client first.

How is the Christian lawyer to balance his or her religious convictions with the fundamental requirements of professional ethics and codes of conduct? Would it be desirable in a democratic society that a lawyer should seek to dissuade a client from adopting a particular course of action when that course of action is permissible pursuant to the laws of the land, simply because it offends against the lawyer’s religious beliefs? What alternative does the Christian lawyer have? To segment work life from religious life? Perhaps the lawyer can blame the politician who enacted the legal framework in the first place which is now potentially being used by the client to obtain an advantage for themselves which the Christian lawyer considers unconscionable? If its not the politician’s fault then perhaps it is the fault of the electorate that elected him? All this feels far too much like passing the buck. Can it really be the lawyer’s place simply to represent and to pursue his client’s perception of what is good within the confines of the legal system within which the lawyer operates or can and should he represent his own moral and religious convictions to his client in the manner in which he dispenses his legal advice? The expropriation of Jewish property in Nazi Germany was presided over by lawyers who worked towards their client’s perception of what was good within the confines of the legal system that existed within that political state.

In the first book of Kings Chapter 3 verses 16 to 28 we are told the story of two advocates pleading their case before a judge. You may recall it better were I to say two mothers pleading to their king. The two mothers had spent the night in the same room after giving birth. One of the children died during the night. The allegation was that the mother of the dead child swapped her child with the living child. The king’s solution to the dispute was to take a sword and to divide the child in half giving half to each mother. The true mother abandoned her case in favour of arguing for compassion, that the life of the child should be saved, she would give up her claim to the child if it could but live. In arguing for compassion the judge saw the strength of the true mother’s claim and the child was given back to her. Compassion was the mother’s route to justice.

King Solomon in his judgment room

My difficulty with all of this however comes when I read the New Testament. For this appears to turn concepts of justice as I understand them as a lawyer entirely on their head. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus tell us:

“if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well”

Does this mean that I should never be defending anyone against a legal action brought against them? Even an incorrect and unjust application? Is Jesus telling us that we must simply give up in the face of such unjust treatment? Or is the message that the way in which to defeat evil, anger and hatred is to meet it with love?

So with the telephones ringing in the office, the e-mails arriving, the blackberry’s red light flashing, the targets, the pressure and the stress where is the Christianity to be found in my workplace? In managing property portfolios and resolving disputes, where is the Christianity to be found in my legal work? I can answer where it should be found although I fear all too often I fall well short of the standard. It should be found in the advice, in the decisions, in the interactions with colleagues, with clients and with opponents. In demonstrating love for my neighbour, whoever that neighbour may be and no matter what they have done.

At evensong three weeks ago Fr Mark prayed an Ancient Welsh Prayer:

Grant, O God, your protection; and in your protection, strength; and in strength, understanding; and in understanding, knowledge; and in knowledge, the knowledge of justice; and in the knowledge of justice, the love of it; and in that love, the love of existence; and in the love of all existence, the love of God, God and all goodness. Amen.




Doctor-Professor John Saunders

Policeman- Sir Trefor Morris CBE QPM

Politician- Nick Ramsay AM

Journalist- Caroline Woollard

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AT tonights meeting of the PCC (the trustees) the following Annual Report of activities was approved.



Charity number: 1137751

Annual Report  for the year ending 31 December 2013

Trustees’ report

The trustees have pleasure in presenting their report and the financial statements of the charity for the year ending 31 December 2013. The organisational structure, administration details and governance of the charity are set out further in this report while the activities of the church form the first part.


This year has been a busy one for the Parish, with services, pastoral care and mission and outreach work continuing, the loss of our Associate Vicar, many special services and major events being held, including the Archbishop of Wales Award for Church Music being hosted at St Mary’s and the Civic Service for Abergavenny’s Mayor being held at the daughter church, Christchurch. St Mary’s received a national award for its guide book and was visited by over 5,000 youngsters and their families and teachers as the schools in the town held their Christingle and Christmas services. Hundreds of people also visited St Mary’s during the Advent to Candlemas Flower Festival, and visitors from all over the world continue to come to the church to see its medieval monuments. All this was done in increasingly tight financial circumstances.

Cllr Sam Dodd robes Cllr Sheila Woodhouse as Mayor

Cllr Sam Dodd robes Cllr Sheila Woodhouse as Mayor


The range of activities for St Mary’s with Christchurch can be split broadly into three categories – worship, prayer and pastoral care; fundraising and fellowship; and hosting events staged by both local and provincial organisations, from schools’ gatherings to concerts and from Wales-wide award ceremonies to art exhibitions.

Worship, prayer and pastoral care

Fr Mark Soady celebrated the first anniversary of his joining the parish on the Feast of Epiphany, January 6. He continues to serve St Mary’s Priory Church and its daughter church Christchurch as Vicar; St Peter’s, Llanwenarth Citra, as Rector; and Holy Trinity Church, Abergavenny, as Priest-in-Charge.

In February, we launched the Young Benedictine project, which will see three or four young people live in community, working with both young people and the wider church and local community. The name was changed to the Holywell Community, as they will live in the Curate’s House in Holywell Road. Work is still ongoing to establish the community and we are planning to have completed the preparatory work and create the first community in 2014.

As well as the usual weekday and Sunday worship during the year, Fr Soady has organised and/or presided over a number of special services:

  • In early February, schoolchildren from King Henry VIII Comprehensive, Abergavenny, came to St Mary’s to commemorate Holocaust Day, when victims of The Holocaust and subsequent ethnic cleansings were remembered;
  • In March, a special Mass was said for St David; and St Mary’s hosted the town’s Women’s Word Day of Prayer service;
  • During Lent a series of Evensong addresses say various ministers talk about their experiences of Christianity in other parts of the world in the One Church, On Faith, One Lord series of sermons. Fr Robbie Dennis spoke of his time in South Africa, Fr Bernard Sixtus spoke of growing up and serving in the army in Germany, Preb. Sam Ashton spoke about the Middle East, the Rev Will Ingle-Gillis told us of worship in the USA; and Bishop Dominic Walker took us to India.
  • In April, we again welcomed Bishop Dominic when he brought the Diocesan Pilgrimage Staff to the church on its way from Newport Cathedral to St Asaph at the end of the Year of Pilgrimage;


  • Bishop Dominic was back at St Mary’s in June for a service to mark his retirement and  a celebration of his decade as the shepherd of the diocese;
"In the light" Bishop Dominic arrives

“In the light” Bishop Dominic arrives

  • It was a much more sombre event in July, when the Armed Forces Day service saw the TA soldiers caught up in the Brecon Beacons tragedy remembered. Two soldiers died and one became critically ill while training in very hot weather;
  • A service in October linked One World Week and Suffering Church Action Week with the theme of  global justice;
  • Also in October, the congregations gave thanks for the bounty with the earth brings at their Harvest Thanksgiving services
  • In November, the All Souls Mass, Remembrance Day and the Road Peace service to commemorate those killed or injured in road crashes, took place;
  • In December, there were more joyous occasions as local schools used the church for their Christingle and Christmas services – over 5,000 youngsters, their families and teachers visiting the church in the space of a week.

Services taken by visiting bishops became a theme for the year, with the Bishop of St Helena, the Rt Rev Richard Fenwick, presiding over the Easter Day Eucharist at Christchurch, while the former Provincial Assistant Bishop, the Rt Rev David Thomas, took the equivalent service at St Mary’s. Both Bishop David and Bishop Dominic presided over a number of other services during the year. We also hosted the Rt Rev David Bannerman, Bishop of our sister diocese of the Highveld, South Africa, on two occasions this year.


Last February visiting 7 Corners, and seeing what they do.

Last February visiting 7 Corners, and seeing what they do.

As well as these special services, we continued to try to enable ordinary people to live out their faith as part of our parish community through:

  • Worship and prayer, learning about the Gospel, and developing their knowledge and trust in Jesus.
  • Provision of pastoral care for people living in the parish
  • Missionary and outreach work.

Acts  of worship were carried out on almost every day of the year, and pastoral care continued through, in particular, the visiting of, and on occasions taking Communion to, parishioners who through sickness or age were unable to come to church. The average attendance at the main Services at the churches was 150, and the number reported to be recorded on the Electoral Roll for both churches on 31 December 2013 was 266  (2012: 258).

In addition to our regular services, we enable our community to celebrate and thank God in the milestones of the journey through life. Through baptism, we thank God for the gift of life, in marriage public vows are exchanged with God’s blessing and through funeral services friends and family express their grief and give thanks for the life which is now complete in this world and to commit their loved one into God’s keeping. This year, the Vicar celebrated 20 baptisms and took 60 funerals. There were only six weddings, reflecting the national trend of fewer weddings, thought to be because of the ‘13’ in 2013.

The new Bishop's future daughter-in-law

The new Bishop’s future daughter-in-law

Bishop & Deacon, prior to the wedding

Bishop & Deacon, prior to the wedding

Eucharistic services were held at care and nursing homes and retirement complexes throughout the year, as well as harvest thanksgiving and carol services at the OAP hall in the town.

The Parish Fellowship held evenings of reflections for Lent and Advent which saw parishioners gather to share poetry, prose, prayer and memories.

Ecumenically, the parish shared services of Compline and Stations of the Cross with the Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady and St Michael’s, Abergavenny, during Lent, as well as participating fully in the Abergavenny Council of Churches.

The Civic Service for the Mayor of Abergavenny, Cllr Sheila Woodhouse, took place in Christchurch, where Cllr Woodhouse is a sub-warden.  Fr Soady was appointed as her Chaplain.


Mission and outreach work

The year saw church members looking even further outward in their mission and outreach, including:

  • St Mary’s becoming an accredited centre for a national marriage preparation course. 7 couples attending the first of these in February, exploring their relationship and what marriage will mean to them.
  • Members of our Mothers Union volunteering at a contact centre for children suffering family break-up, which opened this year in Abergavenny.
  • The Mothers Union also helping to buy goods for people being re-housed locally; and collecting baby items and food for asylum seekers in Newport.
  • Families who had suffered bereavement during the year being personally invited to the All Souls Service, with many taking up that invitation.
  • At Christmas, the congregations filling boxes with small items as part of the Shoe Box Appeal, sending presents out to Eastern European countries
  • Parishioners contributing staple foodstuffs and toiletries to the Abergavenny Food Bank, which opened its doors in the town this year.
  • The hosting of a weekly Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.
  • Members of the church continuing to be involved with the 7Corners project in Abergavenny, which aims to provide a place for young people to meet. This was done through helping at the project, providing funds and by Fr Soady becoming a Trustee of the charity.
  • The large number of motorcyclists who meet at Abergavenny bus station on Saturdays and Sundays being invited to a Road Peace service to commemorate those who had died in road traffic accidents. While their attendance at the service was again disappointing, it provided an  opportunity to chat about the work of the church. The service itself was attended by others affected by RTAs.
  • Members of the Mothers Union and other parishioners contributing to Velindre Cancer Care by knitting chicks for Easter, which were then sold in aid of the charity.
  • The Parish Fellowship also contributing nearly 30 Christmas parcels of items such as toiletries, gloves, and small gifts for older teenagers in Abergavenny who, through no fault of their own, are living by themselves.
  • Contributing to the Bishop of Monmouth’s Lent Appeal.


Much of the parishes’ mission and outreach work was organised by the Abergavenny Anglican Churches Together group, established from all four churches in the Rev M.Soady’s incumbency during 2012.

St Mary’s Priory Choir went on their annual Singing Week in July, becoming choir in residence at Coventry. The choir continued to participate fully in church services, including singing Vespers and Compline on some Friday evenings and Choral Evensong at both St Mary’s and Christchurch.


The Choir singing in Coventry Cathedral

The Choir singing in Coventry Cathedral

The choir has also introduced choral scholars to its ranks, providing training opportunities for young people of sixth form age, who might otherwise not either be involved in choral singing or come to church. The choirmaster is working with the music department of our local comprehensive school to recruit potential scholars.

Members of the congregation again joined fellow pilgrims from all over the country for the annual Fr Ignatius Memorial Pilgrimage through the Llanthony Valley in August.

The Herbert Chapel tombs

The Herbert Chapel tombs

St Mary’s was visited by people from all over the world and from nearer home, with many groups such as U3A, local history organisations, Mothers Union and other church groups booking tours to learn about the collection of medieval monuments in the church – said to be one of the finest in the country – and to sit quietly in a church which has been a place of prayer for nearly 1,000 years.

The church bells, described as the finest ring of 10 bells in Christendom, were rung each Sunday, at funerals and weddings, and on special occasions. They were also rung by a number of visiting groups of ringers.


Hosting events

In February, the Church Monuments Society presented St Mary’s with the award for the Best Church Guide Book in the UK, judged by Sir Simon Jenkins. The award ceremony including two lectures on the monuments in the church.

In April, St Mary’s hosted the Archbishop of Wales Award for Church Music when those who contributed greatly to the musical life of the church throughout the Province were honoured.

During Lent, the church hosted Risen: Art of the Crucifixion and Eastertide, an exhibition of some of the work from the Methodist Art Collection and the Dean of Monmouth, the Very Rev Lister Tonge, used took the opportunity to lead a session on using art in meditation and prayer.

One of the paintings from the Methodist Art Collection

One of the paintings from the Methodist Art Collection

The Priory Centre Hall and Christchurch Hall continued to be resources for the community. As well as hosting church fundraising events and after-service fellowship, Christchurch Hall was used by an art group for vulnerable youngsters and as part of the North Street Open Gardens Scheme. The congregation at Christchurch is encouraging the local community to make more use of the Hall, including running a coffee morning each month.

The Priory Centre provided the venue for various fundraising activities and celebrations, including St Mary’s Patronal Festival lunch and the parish’s Christmas lunch. We also held a fashion show, a sparkling afternoon tea on the Vicarage lawn and again provided refreshments during the weekend of Abergavenny Food Festival. These fundraising events were as much about fellowship as raising much-needed funds.

In June, the church and Priory Centre courtyards were taken over by a Medieval Fayre, organised by the Learning Service, part of the St Mary’s Priory Development Trust. The day saw musicians and archers, stalls and games, as well as our Vicar being put in stocks and pelting with wet sponges to raise funds.

St Mary’s itself hosted a number of concerts, including those by the Gwent Bach Society and the Crickhowell Choral Society.


Only Boys Aloud

Only Boys Aloud

The church also hosted two concerts in aid of the St Mary’s Winston Appeal (SMWA), which aims to create a stained glass window in the Lewis Chapel in memory of the Very Rev Jeremy Winston, former Vicar of the Parish. Early in the year, Keith Davies appeared as Elvis in a concert of both gospel and rock ‘n’ roll music, while later in the year renowned pianist Peter Lutter gave a recital. In May, Only Boys Aloud appeared at Abergavenny Borough Theatre to raise funds for this cause; they were joined by soloist Simon Pratt, a member of St Mary’s Choir, and the chorus of the WAWWA Musical Youth Theatre from Newport.

The SMWA completed the process of choosing a designer for the window, firstly choosing a shortlist of three from the 24 who expressed an interest, before finally appointing Helen Whittaker, the creator of the Queen’s Jubilee window in Westminster Abbey, as designer. The process of applying for both grants and faculties for the work on both the window and on the restoration of the Lewis Chapel is ongoing.

The Festival of Flowers: Advent to Candlemas

The Festival of Flowers: Advent to Candlemas

In November, members of the Abergavenny Floral Arrangement Society designed and staged the Advent to Candlemas Flower Festival, which saw over 70 arrangements depicting Biblical events and local history created by arrangers from all over South Wales. Many hundreds of people visited the festival, which raised £8,000 to be used for the Lewis Chapel restoration. A number of events were held during 2013 to raise funds in preparation for the Festival, including a flower arranging demonstration and a fireworks party.


Reference and administration details

St Mary’s Priory Church and its daughter church, Christchurch, is in the Parish of Abergavenny, in the Deanery of Abergavenny and the Diocese of Monmouth in the Church of Wales.


Incumbent and ministers

The Incumbent is the Reverend Mark Soady. He was assisted by Associate Vicar, the Reverend Dr Bernard Sixtus until the latter announced in February that he would be joining the Ordinariate. The Diocese agreed to replace Dr Sixtus with a stipendiary minster who would split his work between the parishes and the Holywell Community but no-one has as yet been appointed. The worship in the parish has been made possible through the on-going contribution of  Licensed Lay Ministers Jeff Pearse, Gaynor Parfitt and David Meredith.

As well as the assistance given by the bishops mentioned above, worship was led by the Canon Andrew Willie and the Rev Frances Buxton, both of whom have retired to Abergavenny, and the Rev Malcolm Lane, who will return to the parish in 2014 after five years away as house-for-duty priest at Michaelston y Fedw.


Objectives and activities

We review our aims, objectives and activities each year, looking at what we have achieved and the outcomes of our work in the previous twelve months. The review looks at the success of each key activity and benefits of activities in a wide variety of cultural areas. The review also helps us ensure our aims, objectives and activities remained focussed on our stated objectives. We have referred to the guidance contained in the Charities Commission’s general guidance on public benefit when reviewing our aims and objectives and in planning our future activities.

When considering our activities for the year, the incumbent and the Parochial Church Council (PCC) have considered the Charity Commission’s guidance on public benefit and, in particular, the specific guidance on charities for the advancement of religion.

The objective of the Charity is promoting in the ecclesiastical parish the whole mission of the Church. Encouraging and facilitating the practice of the Christian Faith by the Churches includes the following:

  • The provision and maintenance of the fabric of St Mary’s Priory Church, Abergavenny, and of Christchurch, Abergavenny and their associated buildings;
  • Conducting regular Christian worship in both Churches;
  • The celebration of the Holy Eucharist, including on a daily basis at St Mary’s Priory Church; marriages, funerals and baptisms;
  • Leaving St Mary’s open to the public to enter and benefit from personal spiritual contemplation; and to be able to view the medieval monuments and learn about the Benedictine foundation of the Church and its place in the history of Christianity and of Abergavenny;
  • The maintenance of Christian burial places;
  • Promoting the study of Christian teaching, practices and Scriptures;
  • The provision of means and encouragement to promote fellowship within the membership of the Churches and the wider community;


Detailed restoration  work underway

Detailed restoration work underway

In addition to the above, Christian devotional acts and outreach work is carried out, including:

  • Visiting the sick;
  • Administering the Sacraments to those unable to attend regular acts of Worship, to the sick and dying;
  • Supporting pastoral work;
  • Fostering ecumenical links between differing Christian denominations;
  • Supporting the work of other charities through, among others, the Mothers Union and Mission and Outreach Committee.


Further achievements in the year

Monies were raised by freewill offertory, fund raising activities and specific appeals. These were used to support the work and administration of the churches and wider mission. Volunteers, who helped at each act of worship to support the clergy, have donated their time. The churches expect to continue with their acts of worship and pastoral care during 2014 and will continue to actively try to increase its Electoral Roll, through its mission work in the community.

The activities of the committees and groups within the churches continued during the year. The monies raised contributed to the general income of the churches. These activities are expected to continue during 2014. All those involved in group activities and who assist with the main functions of the churches are volunteers.

In order to continue to foster increasing unity between the different Churches and congregations within Fr Soady’s Incumbency, regular meetings of the Wardens from all four Churches were held. In addition, the joint PCCs held a quiet day at Ty Mawr convent, Monmouth, to explore how we could work more closely. The Rev Mark Lawson Jones, Vicar of Cyncoed, led the day, which centred around the meaning of the Trinity.


Archbishop & Vicar in Procession with Church Wardens

Archbishop & Vicar in Procession with Church Wardens

The Trustees

The trustees who served the Charity during the period from the Annual Vestry Meeting in April 2013 until the end of the year were as follows:

The Reverend Mark Soady             Chairman

Mr Anthony Aurelius                       Christchurch representative

Mrs Janet Battersby                         Deputy People’s Warden, Representative on the Deanery Conference

Mrs Sheila Davies                              People’s Warden, Representative on the Deanery Conference

Mrs Margaret Dodd                          Representative on the Deanery Conference

Mr Stephan Grabner                         Representative on the Diocesan Conference

Mrs Anne Griffiths

Mr Clive Jones                                   Parish Treasurer

Mr Steven Lamerton                        Gift Aid Treasurer

Mr Vernon Lewis

Mr David Marsh

Mrs Eunice Marsh                             PCC Secretary

Ms Louise McLeod                            Safeguarding Co-Ordinator

Mr Jeff Pearse                                    Licensed Lay Minister, representative on the Deanery Conference

and the Diocesan Conference

Mr Andrew Powell                             Deputy Vicar’s Warden

Mr Tim Pratt

Mr Robin Smith                                 Vicar’s Warden

Mrs Hazel Watkins

Mrs Sheila Woodhouse                    People’s Sub-warden at Christchurch, Christchurch Treasurer

Ms Caroline Woollard                      Vicar’s Sub-warden at Christchurch, representative on the Diocesan Conference and member of the Governing Body of the Church in Wales

In addition (from January 2013 to the Vestry meeting in April 2013):

Mr John Auty

Mrs Anne Parr

Mr Robert Phillips

Mr David Williams

In May, Mr Clive Jones died. He was a long-standing member of the Church community, having sung in the choir as a boy, served as churchwarden and sacristan and having been treasurer for many years. As it was so close to the Vestry meeting, it was decided to re-organise the wardens’ responsibilities. Mrs Sheila Davies became Vicar’s Warden, Mrs Janet Battersby People’s Warden, Mr Andrew Powell remained Deputy Vicar’s Warden, while Mr Robin Smith took over the responsibilities of the Treasurer and Deputy People’s Warden.


Structure, governance and management

The Parish of Abergavenny is part of the Diocese of Monmouth within the Church in Wales. The Church in Wales is a Province within the Anglican Communion and, as such, exists to advance the Christian Religion through world-wide mission. The object of the Parochial Church Council is to ensure that the life and work of the Church within the Parish helps to fulfil that mission, both locally and more widely.

The Representative Body of the Church in Wales holds the land and property of the Church in Wales, including St Mary’s Priory Church, Christchurch and other church buildings, and including the Garden of Rest at St Mary’s, and their contents. The Representative Body is an exempt Charity and was set up under Section 13(2) of the Welsh Churches Act 1914. It acts on behalf of the Province in paying the stipends of the full time clergy, and administers the Church in Wales scheme of covenanted and gift aid giving recovering tax on behalf of the parishes.

The Parochial Church Council (PCC) is not a body corporate, its composition, procedure and powers being regulated by the Constitution of the Church in Wales as amended from time to time by its Governing Body set up under Section 13(1) of the Welsh Church Act 1914. Elections are held at an Annual Vestry Meeting which must take place on or before 30th April each year. All persons whose names are entered on the Electoral Roll are entitled to vote and stand for election. Before assuming office, every member of the PCC publicly makes a declaration that he or she will be bound by the Constitution. The Members and Officers of the PCC, including the Incumbent, on appointment become Trustees of the “Parish of Abergavenny Parochial Church Council Charity”.

The PCC also appoints the Priory Trustees, a body set up under a 1925 Deed of Trust to administer certain lands and properties held by the Representative Body as Custodial Trustees on behalf of and for the benefit of the Parish. The Trustees report to the PCC and their accounts are kept separate but consolidated with those of St Mary’s and Christchurch within the Charity Accounts presented with this report.

The St Mary’s Winston Appeal also works under the auspices of the PCC and its accounts are also kept separate but consolidated with those of St Mary’s and Christchurch within the Charity Accounts presented with this report.

Property administered by the Priory Trustees includes the Priory Centre, the Tithe Barn and the Curate’s House. The latter two have been purchased in recent years and their freehold values are shown in the Accounts of this Charity.


Commercial operations undertaken in the Priory Centre and the Tithe Barn are administered by The St Mary’s Priory House Company Limited, a Service Company registered with Companies House and in which the Priory Trustees, on behalf of the PCC and the “Parish of Abergavenny Parochial Church Council Charity” hold 51% of the shares.


Risk Review  

The PCC has conducted it own review of the major risks to which the Charity is exposed and systems have been established to mitigate those risks. The risks facing the Charity include the state of repair of the Churches and the financial requirements to meet its stated activities, including payment of its Annual Parish Share, bearing in mind the fall in the numbers of regular worshippers and the reduction in regular giving. The structure of the Churches is continually monitored by the Fabric committee and the Church architect, and the finances are controlled by careful budgeting and encouragement and appeals to the worshippers and visitors.

There have been no serious incidents or other matters relating to this charity over the previous financial year that we should have brought to the attention of the Charity Commissioners but have not.


Organisational Structure  

The PCC is responsible inter-alia for promoting the mission of the Church, the parochial budget and all expenditure there under, the care and maintenance of the fabric of the Churches and of the Garden of Remembrance, and for action on any other matter referred to it in accordance with the constitution. The PCC is also the normal channel of communication between the parishioners and the Bishop of the diocese. All members of the PCC are volunteers.

In addition to the election of members, the Officers, i.e. The People’s Warden, the Deputy People’s Warden (St Mary’s) and People’s Sub-Warden (Christchurch) are elected at the annual Easter Vestry; the Vicar appoints the Vicar’s Warden, Vicar’s Deputy Warden (St Mary’s) and Vicar’s Sub-Warden (Christchurch) at the same meeting. New representatives are told of their responsibilities and of the issues facing the Churches by existing representatives, and receive such additional training as required. Other Officers, including the Secretary, Treasurer and Safeguarding Officer are appointed at the first meeting of the PCC after the Vestry Meeting.

As indicated, members of the PCC also serve as representatives on the Deanery and Diocesan Conferences and the Governing Body of the Church in Wales. St Mary’s and Christchurch are active members of Abergavenny Council of Churches and volunteers help run the Christian Aid Fortnight activities in the town, organise Lenten study groups, and stage a town centre carol service.

The Churches are run entirely by volunteers as the clergy are remunerated by another charity from the Share payments made by all the Churches in the Diocese. Without the work of these volunteers, who, for example, enable St Mary’s to be kept open every day for members of the public to visit and to pray, the Churches would not function.


Committee structure

The PCC met nine times in 2013 but between these meetings, a number of committees meet to support the work of the Churches:

  • The Mission and Outreach Committee (members of which are from all four churches in the incumbency)
  • The Finance Committee
  • The Fabric Committee
  • The Fundraising Committee 


Regular inspections and maintenance of both Churches, plus the other buildings and the grounds, were carried out during the year as required.


Experts and Vicar consult

Experts and Vicar consult



 Investment policy

The Parochial Church Council (PCC), through its finance committee, has considered the most appropriate policy for investing funds and agreed to achieve the best available rate from our Bankers, e.g. through the use of three-month Bonds, within the constraint of maintaining rapid access to funds in the event of a call on them.



Lloyd Bank, 54 Cross Street, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire NP7 5HB, and, HSBC Bank plc, 2 Frogmore Street, Abergavenny, NP7 5AF.


Independent Examiner

Dorrell Oliver Limited, Linden House, Monk Street, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire NP7 5NF.


Trust Architect

Michael Bartosch, of Bartosch & Stokes, 1 Bath Parade, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL53 7HL



Approved by the Trustees

and signed on their behalf

by The Reverend Mark Soady, Chairman










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In the  last of the series Solicitor Rob Phillips reflects on how his faith impacts on his work next Sunday , 6pm at Christchurch, North street.198582_1003485801799_1428_n



Doctor-Professor John Saunders

Policeman- Sir Trefor Morris CBE QPM

Politician- Nick Ramsay AM

Journalist- Caroline Woollard

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Again this year we will share these services across the four Anglican Churches in Abergavenny

8am BLessing of Palms & Holy Eucharist
10.30am Procession with the Donkey from Holy Trinity
11am Blessing of Palms, Procession and Sung Eucharist
6pm Evening Prayer
Holy Monday
7.30pm Compline (St Peter’s Church, Llanwenarth)
Holy Tuesday
8am Holy Eucharist
7.30pm Stations of the Cross (Christchurch, North Street)
Holy Wednesday
10am Holy Eucharist
7.30pm: Stations of the Cross: Joint Service at  Our Lady & St Michael RC Church, Pen-y-pound
7pm Mass of the Last Supper and Stripping of the Altars
followed by march to the Altar of Repose at Holy Trinity and Watch ’till Midnight
10AM: United March of Witness, including Service at Holy Trinity, Baker Street at 10.30am
2pm Stations of the Cross  (Christchurch, North Street)
6pm Liturgy of the Day
7pm Sacred Concert by  St Mary’s Priory Choir. World Premier of Stabat Mater
8pm Paschal Vigil
8am Holy Eucharist
9.30am All Age Eucharist
11am Parish Eucharist; Preacher Revd Dr Mark Claviar, Dean of Residential Training, St Michael’s College, Llandaff
6pm Evensong

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