Archive for August, 2016

The second  in our series as we look at food justice issues in the run up to Food Festival & Harvest

What is food justice? According to Oxfam’s Grow campaign: “It’s possible to feed everyone on the planet, but many go hungry because the food system is broken. We are campaigning to ensure that, in a world where there’s enough food to go around, no-one has to go to bed hungry.” A whole host of factors such as climate change, land grabs, food price spikes and intensive farming are stopping nearly 900 million – that’s 1 in 8 people – worldwide from having enough to eat.

Land grabs

Finding space to grow food in poor countries has always been an issue, but now the situation is getting out of control. Land used by poor families to grow crops is being sold to wealthy companies or foreign governments looking for cheap agricultural space. These families are often evicted without their consent, with little or no warning and no compensation. It’s time to get land grabs under control. Oxfam is calling for tighter regulation of how land is bought and sold, that protects the rights of poor people while encouraging positive investment to fight poverty.


Climate change

As temperatures rise, crop yields will fall—to as much as half their current levels in some African countries according to some predictions. At the same time, extreme weather events like heat waves, droughts and floods are getting more frequent and severe, and the seasons that people rely on to grow crops are getting even more unpredictable. Oxfam and Christian Aid are keeping the pressure on rich countries to make vital progress on reducing their carbon emissions and support people living in poverty to protect themselves from the devastating effects of climate change. The world’s governments have dragged their feet for too long. It’s time to start dealing with a situation that’s only going to get more urgent.


Food price spikes

After decades of progress, the number of people without enough to eat is actually increasing, and food price spikes are a big part of the problem. That’s because, when you spend up to 75% of your weekly income on food—as many poor families are forced to do—sudden rises have an especially destructive effect. Price spikes have many causes—the changing climate, oil prices, dysfunctional commodities markets, biofuels policies that mean crops end up in cars and not on plates—but what’s clear is that we are facing a whole new challenge. Oxfam is calling on governments to work together to deal with food price crises effectively and to tackle the problems that mean millions of people can’t afford enough to eat. Intensive farming Following a century of increases, crop fields are flatlining— because intensive farming can only go so far. It’s time to focus on the huge untapped potential of small-scale farmers in developing countries— especially on women, who often do most of the work for little reward. Already, 500 million small farms help to put food on the plates of two billion people—or one in three people on earth. With effective government support and a focus on sustainable techniques, productivity could soar. In Vietnam, for instance, the number of hungry people has halved in just 12 years—a transformation kick-started by government investment in small farmers. It’s time to change the way the world thinks about growing food.

St Mary’s Priory site will again host part of the Abergavenny Food Festival from September 17 – 18. We will also host a Food Justice Seminar in the Church on Friday, September 16 ; and be looking at food justice in the Priory Church and Abbot’s Garden all over the Food Festival weekend.

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OVER the next month in the run up to the Food Festival and Harvest we are looking at Food Justice, in his sermon today Ordinand and Holywell Associate Samuel Patterson reminded us that wee must be fully content with our place in God’s plan no matter what that is. 

That sometime involves sacrifices and changes in our life.We need to humble ourselves so that others can be lifted up.


He pointed out that :

…once we start to walk like this with God, once we’re daily relinquishing all that we have and are and want to Him, what do we do then? ‘Show hospitality to strangers…remember those in prison and those who are being tortured, as if you were enduring such things…do good and share what you have’ just a few mentioned in today’s New Testament reading. When we’re no longer holding on to all our stuff we are free to share it.

Instead of hoarding wealth, to use it to help those in need, instead of gathering stuff, to give it away to those who need it more than us. In practice this looks like giving all those clothes you’re never going to wear to charity to help those in need, it looks like buying food with the fair-trade label and checking home grown produce is having a fair price paid for it too. It looks like checking the ethical standards of the companies we use and not seeking out a bargain when we know that our clothes’s costing less than our lattes doesn’t make sense. It looks like buying extra food and popping it in the food bank collection point.




Samuel at Sunday lunch

As the morning drew to a close he challenged us further:

A very simple example for you; in a few hours many of us here will be faced with a very key decision. Who gets the last roast potato. Now it may be that, like me, you like them so much you’ve eaten more of them than anyone else has and you’re eyeing up the last one too. Humility teaches us that when we ask ‘Would anyone else like the last roast potato?’ we are asking because we think someone else deserves it more than us rather than simply legitimising it’s inevitable appearance on our plate.


St Mary’s Priory site will again host part of the Abergavenny Food Festival from September 17 – 18. We will also host a Food Justice Seminar in the Church on Friday, September 16; and be looking at food justice in the Priory Church and Abbot’s Garden all over the Food Festival weekend.

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Writing in the September edition of the Three Churches Magazine Deacon Sarah Gillard-Faulkner writes:


In recent weeks the opening sentence of Saint Benedict’s Rule has been highlighted to me on more than one occasion. In one translation it states: “Listen Child of God, the Guidance of your teacher.” For me it’s the opening word that is really important. Saint Benedict right from the outset is instructing his followers in a command. Listen! As a music teacher I had often to teach pupils who were to sit GCSE music how to listen. For listening is not just about hearing. It goes much deeper than just hearing the sounds. I would often say to those pupils, listening is when something manages to change you in some way. In getting young people to listen to pieces of music, I was encouraging them to hear distinctly what the composer is trying to portray in his music. It is about listening to the light and shade of a piece, its highs and its lows, the small whispers and the loud exhortations. This I think is what Saint Benedict is instructing his monks. In other translations the rule says: Listen, to the voice of the teacher. The teacher is the only one to whom the Christian should be focused on, that is God. To listen to what he has to say to us through prayer, reading of the scripture, receiving the teaching of the church and the holy sacraments it how we are to be changed. Fr Mark in recent weeks has stated that he wishes us to go back to doing the simple things and doing them well. Not to be busying ourselves with too much but to be focusing ourselves on doing things well for Christ. And in doing so giving ourselves both as individuals and as communities dedicated to following the way of the Lord to LISTEN! How can we ever do his will if we don’t even know what it is?

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Rosie Boycott, food campaigner, journalist and Chair of the London Food Board, will be speaking here on the topic of food justice on the eve of the Abergavenny Food Festival. The event will take place  at 7pm on Friday September 16th.

Rosie Boycott believes the food system is in a mess. “Today on the planet, more people are fat than are hungry,” she says. “Yet many households still experience hunger and in rich countries we have food banks next to obesity clinics. We all agree that something is radically wrong – but what?”


At this event organized by Abergavenny’s Just Food Group, Rosie Boycott will be addressing the question of what is wrong with our food system, where we have come from since the agricultural revolution, how food and profit – when profit is the prime motive – gets in the way of food justice and health for people and planet. The event will be accompanied by music and stories for Zimbabwe.

A journalist who writes and speaks regularly about the importance of food for health and in reducing carbon emissions, Rosie Boycott has a wealth of understanding on the food system. She got interested in food politics after starting a small farm in Somerset about which she has written a book. As Chair of London Food since 2008, she is responsible for helping to improve Londoners’ access to healthy, locally produced and affordable food.

The food justice theme will continue all weekend in the Priory Church with a activities planned by the Holywell Community and parishioners.

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As we move in to the Autumn our mind turns to the Food Festival and Harvest.


The site will again host part of the Food Festival from September 17th – 18th. We will also host a Food Justice Seminar in the Church on Friday, September 16th – more details to follow; and be looking at food Justice in the Priory Church and Abbot’s Garden all over the Food Festival weekend. As usual Traditional Teas will be served on the Vicarage Lawn on the Saturday.



Harvest Evensong on September 30th at 7pm with Harvest Sunday on October 2nd, preacher at the 11am service will be Canon John Davies, followed by Harvest Lunch ( pre-bookable)

On the Saturday October 1st there will be  a Pet service at St Peter’s, Llanwenarvth at 2pm.

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Our Vicar, Canon Mark Soady will be the preacher at the opening Mass of the Fr Ignatius Memorial Trust Pilgrimage this year. Fr Mark will preach at St David’s Church  in the Shadow of Llantony Abbey at 11.30am on Saturday , prior to the walk to Capel Y Ffin for Evensong and then the Pilgrimage to the ruins of Fr Ignatius’ Abbey.

Shot With Spirit-6973-(ZF-2913-14776-1-003).jpg

Who was Fr Ignatius

Fr Ignatius (1837-1908) was a prominent figure in the Catholic Revival which swept the 19th century Church of England. As a young man he resolved to restore to it the monastic life lost at the Reformation, and devoted the rest of his life to this aim.

Ordained deacon in 1860, he served a brief curacy at St Peter’s, Plymouth, where he came under the influence of the Tractarian éminence grise, E.B. Pusey, and Priscilla Lydia Sellon, foundress of one of the first Anglican women’s communities. His attempt to establish a ‘Brotherhood of the Love of Jesus’ was thwarted by illness, but after convalescence in Belgium and a six-month second curacy in Stepney he founded the ‘English Order of St Benedict’, in rooms lent by the Reverend George Drury in his rectory at Claydon, near Ipswich.

At the same time he embarked on a parallel career as a preacher of missions. Originally undertaken to publicise his monastic venture and raise funds to secure suitable premises, this soon became Ignatius’s chief occupation, and made his name a household word. It remained the principal source of income for his Monastery until the final year of his life, but being left for months at a time without adequate leadership the community never developed to its full potential.

Fr Ignatius combined an extreme taste in ceremonial (much of it modelled on what he had witnessed in Belgium) with evangelical earnestness in the pulpit – he often got on better with Low Churchmen and ‘Dissenters’ than with Catholic-minded Anglicans. His relationship with the Church authorities was consistently stormy: no bishop would advance him to the priesthood, and towards the end of his life he excited considerable controversy by accepting priest’s orders from an episcopus vagans, Joseph René Vilatte. Ignatius was however a man of deep spirituality, whose face when he prayed was reported to shine with heavenly light.

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Speaking at the Patronal Festival and at the Commissioning of the Holywell Community the Bishop of Monmouth took as his text: The Revelation to St John 12:1-2

After that there appeared a great sign in heaven: a woman robed with the sun, beneath her feet the moon, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was about to bear a child, and in the anguish of her labour she cried out to be delivered.

He said:

A woman robed with the sun. You may be excused for thinking – on this Patronal day – that this woman in Revelation is Mary. It isn’t. The writer, St. John draws on the figure of Ziôn, the new Jerusalem, the church.

And that is quite appropriate because when we think of Mary, the mother of our Lord, we should always be drawn into two directions. To Jesus. And to the church. In ultimate truth it is the same direction, in practice it is a journey that twists and turns as we come to lay our lives and our will to God’s plan of redemption.

So today, as a parish community we celebrate the journey of Mary, and recognise that this our journey as faithful disciples of Jesus.

What I want to reflect about – for a few moments – is the cost of Mary’s discipleship and the cost of our own.

This week I have been surrounded by martyrs. No, not the type who make a fuss about nothing. No I mean real martyrs. St Teresa Benedicta of the cross ( Edith Stein) and also Maximilian Kolbe. St Maximilian is remembered today and St Teresa Bendicticta last week.

They were twentieth century martyrs. Both were born in Poland, both died in Auschwitz. Edith Stein was brought up a Jew , became an atheist and then converted to Christianity. She became a Carmelite nun living in the Netherlands at the Order of our Lady of Peace. Discovered to be a convert, she was taken to Auschwitz camp and gassed the next day.

Maximilian was a remarkable Polish priest who was devoted to the ministry of Mary. He famously took the place of another prisoner and after weeks of starvation was killed by injection.

They are radical examples of discipleship and yet they shared the same intent. To give all to God and by so doing to give all to those he calls us to serve.

Now those examples of red martyrs as they are called (for they were killed for their faith) are extreme and not really for us. But their lives are worth reading. Edith, or St Teresa Benedicta as she was called, was also a great thinker and writer. But here is a simple quote, which for me sums up the profundity and simplicity of discipleship.


Bishop & Prior

“Let go of your plans. The first hour of your morning belongs to God.”

It is a call for all of us to get our priorities right. Start with God, centre on him and the rest will flow. I know it’s true because it works! If I am overly cocky or independent I will inevitably fall on my face. There are unwritten laws of the spiritual life which operate and that is the simplest and yet the hardest. Give your self to God. Like Mary did when she said “let it be”. Like Edith Stein or Maximilian.

And to give us an example of this intent to centre on God we have the Holywell Community in our midst. They take St Teresa Benedicta’s words to heart. The first hour of your morning belongs to God. Of course in monastic terms the hour is part of the office. And each day the Holywell Community will be in the office, this church, praying the hour of Lauds, or morning prayer. They are not obvious saints. – Unless I have missed some thing! But they are models for us, and for themselves of a faithful community who tries to put God first. And it’s working. Now in its third year the community flourishes and is a place of growth, of acceptance and of vocation. It’s presence here is a blessing for the parish,the church and the wider community.

As I come to commission them for a further year I do so with hope and joy because I see God blessing their intent of putting him at the centre of their lives together. In the charism that they are given both as individuals and as a community may they live out the discipleship of Mary and others, and may they bless you as you bless them.

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THE BISHOP OF MONMOUTH as Episcopal Visitor will Commission the Holywell Community for a new year of work at a Sung Eucharist on August 14th at 11am.

The Service on the eve of the Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary willl also be an opportunity for us to mark our Patronal Feast.

Virgin and Child

The Blessed Virgin Mary portrayed in our Jesse Window with Jesus.

A new High Mass set in memory of a previous Vicar Revd Morgan Clement will be used for the first time at this service.

The Service will be followed by a Salmon Lunch

There will also be a celebration of the Holy Eucharist at 6pm on Monday – the Feast Day itself.

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Details of Harvest Services have been released:

Friday, September 30th, 7pm Harvest Evensong

Saturday, October 1st at St Peter’s, Llanwenarth  a Pet Service at 2pm


Harvest in the Vicarage Garden

Sunday October 3rd

8am Holy Eucharist, 9.30am All Age Worship

11am Sung Eucharist, Preacher Canon John Davies , former Vicar of Milford Haven

1pm Harvest Lunch (Please pre-book)


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