Archive for November, 2014

Speaking at the Advent Carol Service at St Mary’s Priory Church the RC Archbishop of Cardiff, The Most Revd George Stack reminded us that even though Advent is the start of a new liturgical year, it is not starting the ‘same old’, for we have changed from last Advent by our experience of life and by being further along our faith journey.

Archbishop Stack in procession

Archbishop Stack in procession

Earlier in the service the seven lessons from the Holy Scripture toke us through the prophetic promise of the Old Testament in to the New. Lessons were read by a Chorister, MU Enrolling Member, a Sub Warden, a server, a member of the Holywell Community and our LLM Jeff Pearce (photograph centre).

Among pieces sung by the Choir were Sir Charles  Villiers Stanford Benedictus in B flat, The Advent Prose, The Cherry Tree Carol, and Charles Wood O Thou the central orb.

Other Advent events

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NOVEMBER 30TH 6pm Advent Carol Service: From darkness to light

Preacher: Most Revd George Stack, RC Archbishop of Cardiff

Sam explains the Advent wreath at the Mother & Toddlers

Sam explains the Advent wreath at the Mother & Toddlers Club


The Jesse tree will be dressed Sunday by Sunday with symbols of God’s work of Salvation throughout history


During December we will be taking out the good news of Christmas by singing carols in the Town’s pubs on December 10th & 17th and in the Residential Homes on December 22nd. We will join other Christian Churches in the town to sing in the shopping Centre on Saturday morning, 20th.

A stop outside the Market

A stop outside the Market (2014)

Again this year our Walking Nativity will move from Holy Trinity Church through the town to the Abbot’s Garden at St Mary’s Priory.

We will also host Christingle Carols Services for five local schools during the month

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As we mark the third Anniversary of the death of Dean Jeremy Winston it has been revealed that the Diocesan Advisory Committee has agreed in principle to advise the Diocesan Chancellor that he should grant permission for the moving of the Jesse Tree and the creating of a Memorial Window above at the East end of the Lewis Chapel.

The Window design

The Window design

Welcoming the news the President of the Winston Memorial Appeal, The Lord Rowe-Beddoe said:

Lord Rowe-Beddoe at the Dean Jeremy's Service of Thanksgiving

Lord Rowe-Beddoe at Dean Jeremy’s Service of Thanksgiving

“Our prayers have been answered and we thank all those who have contributed in the early stages and maintained their faith in our wonderful project.”

Fr Jeremy died on November 21st 2011, only two months after being installed as Dean of the Cathedral. He had previously served as Vicar of Abergavenny for 18 years.

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Bishop Honours Fr Mark

On Sunday night the Bishop of Monmouth Collated Fr Mark Soady as a Canon of the Cathedral Church of St Woolos, Newport before the Cathedral Dean Installed him in to the Canon’s Stall of St Teilo.

Canon Soady, Dean & Bishop

Canon Soady, Dean & Bishop

Speaking at the service the Bishop said:

“We are blessed with (his) ministry and (his) commitment to serve in God’s Kingdom. It is a reminder that becoming a Canon is not just an accolade, but a responsibility. It is an opportunity to promote Kingdom values through the Cathedral in its wider ministry to the Diocese.”

“Mark is a popular and well-known representative of Christ in Abergavenny and further afield. He has political connections which allows him an ongoing conversation with those in government. His work with the Army and local University as a chaplain has demonstrated his concern to be with people in all sorts of conditions. His passion and vision for setting up the Holywell Community has provided a clear example of the church serving through hospitality and prayer the needs of the wider society.”

Canon Soady served as Minor Canon at the cathedral from 2003-2008 and as Hon Priest Vicar from 2011.

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The Bishop of Monmouth yesterday (November 15th) Installed Revd Sarah Gillard-Fualkner as Deacon and Sub-Prior . The service was in the context of a Mass for Our Lady.


In His address the Bishop, who is Episcopal Visitor of the Holywell Community, said:

It’s good to be here to license Sarah into her new roles as Parish Deacon, sub Prior and Bishop’s Chaplain. I wonder if there is enough of Sarah to go around, but those of us who know Sarah well, knows that she puts a great deal of energy and commitment into her work and I personally have been a beneficiary of her multi tasking.

I know also that Sarah is greatly shaped by her faith, traditional yet vibrant, and this coming year some of that faith will be brought to the fore as she co-ordinates the Walking with Mary programme in anticipation of the Diocesan Pilgrimage to Walsingham.

It’s good therefore that we have this passage from Luke relating the Visitation story as giving an insight into the motives of Mary and how we -and in this particular instance -Sarah – can benefit upon closer examination and see what it says about our vocation and how it fits in with God’s plan.

I want to consider three actions by Mary in this gospel extract

Mary set out and went with haste

Mary was on a mission. She had been told by the angel Gabriel that her cousin, an elderly lady was pregnant. Mary had to go to see her. Why? To share in the great wonder of Gods plan, unfolding in their midst? To have a gossip about what’s going on. Now, it is clear that Mary was not like most young girls! She had a mind of her own. It would have been unusual for a young girl to travel away up into the hill country. But she did. She was on a mission and nothing was going to stop and with the impetuosity of youth she went with haste!

Oh, if only we were ready to do God’s mission with such haste! We prevaricate, we have our meetings and our parish councils and often it’s about everything else part from the Mission. What mission – the mission of the incarnation. God coming amongst us, bringing salvation, bringing healing and a change of life. Are you directly linked into the mission? Sarah needs to remind you that God comes first.

The Community praying with its Episcopal Visitor

The Community praying with its Episcopal Visitor

The second thing

Mary greeted Elizabeth.

You know it’s all about being human. Being alongside each other. Supporting each other. There should be no them and us in the church. Whatever them and us you want to talk about. It’s about greeting each in love. Celebrating our common humanity in Christ. The work of a Deacon is to bridge the gaps. In a purely human way to do the work of service that brings the love of Christ. Sarah you are known for this work. I have seen it in the way that you go about your work and support others. You have had a special ministry for ordinands in college. You have a wonderful way of working with prisoners as a Prison Chaplain. I know you will, time willing, engage in work in the community here in Abergavenny.

Mary greeted Elizabeth. What followed? Joy! The child leaped for joy! You can hear the laughter, the sheer joy and exuberance of the occasion as both Mary and Elizabeth realised that God was at work and it was going to be ok. Laughter. I don’t need to tell you about Sarah’s laughter. It doesn’t so much echo around a parish but the whole of the Diocese. It’s a timely reminder that we are, above all, a people of joy. How can we not be, when we know that God’s mission is our mission. And in our community we are shaped by love, we greet each other in peace and goodwill. It cannot be better than that.

And finally

Mary said My Soul Magnifies the Lord.

To magnify means to grow bigger. And if my soul like Mary’s needs to grow bigger to accommodate God then let it be so. It does not mean that I grow smaller – that’s a rather strange view that almost suggests that my humanity diminishes in order to allow God to be in charge. Not at all. In the same way that love has the capacity to be added to and not subtracted, as a parent can love more than one child equally. So it is with us. By accepting Gods love, our soul, our very life, can expand to new horizons. We are not diminished, but we can burst out with Gods glory and goodness, his grace and his healing love.

The journey of Mary is a wonderful forerunner of the Christian life. We accept the mission of love, we serve others in love, we grow in the stature of Christ as we allow his Ministers to develop within us. This is a model of joy, it is the model of the church.

Sarah and all the people here gathered: journey well. Do not be distracted. Keep on message! Be kind to each other and let joy flow. And finally rejoice in the Lord, for he is here and his spirit dwells within us!

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The weekend of November 15th and 16th sees a weekend of very different services


Revd Sarah Gillard-Faulkner

Revd Sarah Gillard-Faulkner

At 12noon on Saturday, November 15th the Bishop of Monmouth will install Revd Sarah Gillard Faulkner as Deacon and Sub-Prior. During the service the Holywell Community lay members and others will present symbols of Ministry to Deacon Sarah: Stole, Catechism, Home Communion Set, Bible, Paschal Candle and Holy water. The Priory Choir will sing William Byrd’s Ave Verum corpus and Ave Regina .


Later that day the Priory Community will gather for its annual race night- an opportunity to raise funds and have some fellowship. Do join us at 7.30pm, and if you want Fish & Chips book in advance on 01873 853168


We have seen a number of tragic and fatal road accidents on the roads around Abergavenny lately, at 3pm on Sunday, November 16th we will remember all who are suffering as result of Road Traffic Accidents with a service in the Priory Church.


Just one week after those killed in war are honoured, bereaved families, politicians, and representatives from the emergency services will gather to remember all lives lost and broken on our roads in a number of events taking place across the country. This year the theme for the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims is ‘Speeding Kills – Design out Speeding’; inappropriate and excessive speed is a key cause of crashes, road death and injury. RoadPeace is calling for the use of technologies such as speed limiters and black boxes to be fitted in vehicles, as well as a default urban 20mph limit.



Fr Mark Soady will be installed as a Canon of the Cathedral Church of St Woolos, Newport at a service in the Cathedral on Sunday, November 16th. Having been Licensed by the Bishop of Monmouth,  Dean Lister Tonge will install Fr Mark in to his new Canon’s stall.

Organising in the Canon's quire

Fr Mark organising in the Canon’s quire

Fr Mark supervises the repair of the Cathedral roof

Fr Mark supervises the repair of the Cathedral roof

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We will remember the fallen of all conflicts over the last 105 years over the weekend on November 8th / 9th

Gwent Bach Choir will perform The Armed Man ( A Mass for peace) by Karl Jenkins, and Angus Dei by Samuel Barber on Saturday November 8th, 7.30pm.

On Sunday, 8th Remembrance Sunday the fallen will be remembered at all services. The main service at 10,50am will include the Laying of Wreaths and a 2 Minutes Silence at 11am.

To mark the Centenary of the start of World War1 the Priory Church Choir have produced a CD of Remembrance Music. The CD is available form St Mary’s Priory.

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It was good to welcome the Bishop of Monmouth to the Priory Church this morning to Confirm 7 new disciples.


Bishop Richard used the Gospel  message ‘Blessed are the pure in heart’ as the  text for his Sermon.

“Christian Faith is not skin deep. It goes to the heart of the matter. This service of confirmation is concerned with the life of the spirit that God has given at our baptism. Of course this is not separated from our body and mind, but the life of the spirit is at the centre of who we are and how we relate to God and others.

Blessed are the pure in heart

Strange in our society we place so much emphasis on external freedom. Our rights, our benefits. But a mature rounded person needs to look for the freedom of spirit which comes from purity of heart.

If we mention the word pure it has negative overtones – a Puritan who doesn’t enjoy life and it’s pleasures. How far this is from the truth! The Christian life is about joy, about love and peace. But these qualities, this way of life is hindered if we do not have a pure heart. The word pure in Greek literarily means clean, not full of dirt. For the early fathers of the church a pure heart was a heart set on the things of God, his goodness.

There are many things that distract us, many things that pull us apart within and without. There is a struggle between good things and bad things. A pure heart is set on working towards the good and allowing God to work within us.

Pure can also mean clearly transparent – you see things as they are. The saints which we celebrate over this weekend are people who allow God’s love to be revealed because they are open, transparent in their love for God. They can see God because he is within. We see that purity in them.

Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God. The Jews thought you could only hear God. Jesus says you can see God. You can, literarily recognise him.

For you being confirmed today I ask that you will have pure hearts. Hearts that will be focused on God and seek the good. If you do this God will reward you for you will begin to see the landscape of the spirit. You will see God. You will recognise him in your life and recognise him at work in the circumstances of your life and in those you meet. God is never absent, it’s just that most of the time we don’t see him! What you and I need is to give ourselves openly to God to receive his spirit of love and have our eyes and hearts open to catch glimpses of heaven in our midst.

For blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.”

The Bishop will speak at the King Henry VIII School Remembrance Service next Friday at 9am, and will return to the Priory Church on November 15th at 12noon to Licence our new Deacon & Sub -Prior.

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Power-struggles, bloody feuds and vaulting ambition; the Wars of the Roses and the rise of the House of Tudor provide a dramatic backdrop to life in the courtly houses of Wales of the period. The year is 1525 and this documentary sets the scene for the living history series, Y Llys.

Fr Mark being interviewed

Fr Mark being interviewed

The  second half of the programme includes footage of worship at St Mary’s Priory Church, as well as a look at  William Herbert and our  other Tudor Tombs. WATCH

If you watch the reality programme this introduces you may recognise the Chapel Cantor!

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