Archive for December, 2016

New Years Day

10.30am Holy Eucharist at Holy Trinity Church Baker Street, there are no Services at the Priory on New Year’s Day.

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Preaching at St Mary’s Priory Church’s Christmas Services the Vicar, Canon Mark Soady, will say:

I am not among those people who complain about Christmas having become to secular – after all December 25th started out as a pagan festival. No on actually knew what day Jesus was born on, in the stable in Bethlehem two thousand years ago, so the early Christians  took over the  the Saturnalia Festival. The Festival  celebrated the new light as the days started to get longer again, and so the early Christians used it to celebrate the birth of  the light of the world.  Jesus speaks of himself as “I am the light”.


For many of us these days feel very dark: the uncertainty of a President Trump, life after Brexit, terrorist acts almost daily, the ongoing carnage in Aleppo…..and much more.

As Jesus came in to the darkness of the people’s lives two thousands years ago, so he comes in to the darkness of our life today  –  if we allow him in. God humbled himself to come to us, he came as  baby so he could make himself more accessible to us, we must now respond to that humble act by embracing God. We must embrace God by trying to become more like him.

If we have become distant  to God Christmas is a time to re-engage with him. As  the sending of a Christmas card helps us to  re-engage with our friends we have lost, so meeting the Christ Child afresh this night enables us to rebuild our relationship with God.

`The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it’

The Gospel of John


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Details of the activities for 2017 have been published.

Cathedral Exhibition on Angels

We kick the year by hosting the Cathedral Exhibitions of Textile Art – Angels exhibition. The Deo Gloria  funded exhibition will be with us in January. This display gives a series of impressions about angles as link between this world and another dimension. It combines the familiar comfortable Christmas story, with the unfamiliar and uncomfortable realm that exists beyond our understanding.




LENT: Stations of the Cross & Sunday Evening Preachments


Throughout Lent we will mount Nigel Robert Pugh’s Exhibition of paintings of the Stations of the Cross. On Sunday evenings at 6pm we will look at the images and what message we can draw out for today, with the help of visiting Preachers.

March 5th: Religious Art with Revd Celia Jones, Magor (Christchurch, North Street)

March 12th: Accused & Pilate with His Honour Judge Huw Rees

March 19th: The Weeping Women with Revd Canon Daniel Burton former Chair of Embrace the Middle East

March 26th: Jesus meets his mother with Revd Paul Lockett former Chantry Priest at the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham and Queen’s Chaplain.

April 2nd: Entrust with Deacon Jeff Pearce, Abergavenny (Christchurch, North Street)

April 9t:  Death on the Cross / Descent

Mons Day

During May we will display quilts  produced by 130 pupils from across Monmouthshire featuring themes of the Great War including WWI poets, the role of animals in the war, life in the trenches, nurses, the Abergavenny War Memorial and poppies.


We will host a Mons Day Service over the weekend of May 6th/7th.


We will host the Bible Society fabric display on the theme of Creation during September, which is also the month of the annual Abergavenny Food Festival.


In addition we will mark the major Christian Festivals during the year. We will also be holding a Festival of Church Music at the end of August.

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A week end of celebration


Donkeys, Bishops and a new singing monk all contributed to a great weekend at the Priory.

On Friday evening we had the annual Carol Concert with Vision of Hope a Christian Charity which rehabilitates ex-prisoners on a near by farm – and they brought their donkeys along to join in.


Vision of Hope Carols

On Saturday morning Bishop Richard Commissioned the Holywell Community’s first Concentor, Br Simon . In this moving service two new associates were also admitted to the Community.


Br Simon swears his oath of Canonical Obedience 

Read Bishop Richard’s Sermon here.


The New Concentor and Associates join us


The afternoon saw us donning Costumes as we Walked the Nativity  from Holy Trinity Church, Baker Street to the Abbot’s Garden at St Mary’s Priory -sharing the good news of Christmas and general Christmas cheer throughout the town. Br Simon was Joseph and Sr Jenni, Mary, while Fr Chris Walters and Bishop Richard toke on the roles of the Magi.Fr Mark proclaimed the good news in his role as Archangel Gabriel.

Christmas Music and Carols were on the programme on Saturday evening for the Abergavenny Borough Band’s Christmas Concert in the Priory Church.


On Sunday at 11am we welcomed our second Bishop of the weekend. Bishop David Thomas returned to Abergavenny to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of his Consecration as Bishop. Fr Mark said, “It is right that this  celebrations takes place here where he lived for the whole of his Episcopacy”.


Bishop David processes out at the end of the service 

The weekend concluded with our Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols. The Choir excelled  themselves and Abergavenny Rotary Club provided Mulled Wine & Mince Pies.


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Christmas Message 2016


Canon  Mark Soady’s Christmas Message 2016

This year saw the unveiling of our Jesse Window. It is a pictorial demonstration of  God taking Human form- of God at the first Christmas being born as a human.

The window by showing the family tree of Jesus shows us Christ’s humanity. Other aspects of the window show us how God promised that Jesus would come to save, as he promises Jesus will come again at the end of time.

For us at St Mary’s Priory the window is not just a piece of art, beautiful though it is.  It is an Icon.  The icon artist and priest Fr Regan O’Callaghan says Icons are a  means of “praying with our eyes open”.  It has been wonderful to see the thousands of people who over the past five months have sat before it quietly praying with their eyes open.

Virgin and Child

At the centre of the window is the Christ child with his fingers raised in blessing- blessing us the viewer. That is what the Christmas message is all about, by coming to earth God blessed and blesses us. Christ’s other hand is holding the Holy Bible, the book which guides and shows us how God wants us to respond to that gift of his blessing. He wants us to show love to all people.

I pray we, the people of Abergavenny, will show that love throughout 2017 – and not just at this Christmas time.

A blessed Christmas!



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New Deacon Ordained

Jeff Pearse who has served as a Licensed Lay Minister here for the past six years was today Ordained Deacon by the Bishop of Monmouth at Newport Cathedral.


Deacon Jeff (far left) assists Bishop Richard at the Ordination Mass

Having served as a Reader (LLM) for many years in Manchester Jeff retired to Abergavenny at the turn of the decade, and has served as a Lay Minister in Abergavenny during that period.

Welcoming his ordination, Canon Mark Soady said,

” Jeff is a very gifted preacher whose sermons have been a blessings to us here, I look forward to seeing is other skills at work in his new expanded ministerial role. WE are indeed blessed to have him on the team!”

Deacon Jeff is expected to be Priested at Petertide 2017.

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This Advent & Christmas we are doing lots of ‘church with out walls’ as we take the Carols out in to the town and share the Chrismas message in other ways to.

Bear & Carols 2015

Bear & Carols 2015                                                                                                                   


This December we will be found singing carols to the reserve Troops at Monmouth Castle,  the Residential Homes and Sheltered Housing Complexes in Abergavenny, as well as doing a ‘pub-crawl of carol singing’.

On Saturday afternoon December 17th there will be A Walking Nativity through the town. We start at Holy Trinity Church, Baker Street at 2pm and end up at the Abbot’s Garden, St Mary’s Priory. Part of the Abbot’s Garden will be set up as a Crib Scene. We will end the Nativity by signing carols around the crib, while drinking Mulled Wine and eating Mince Pies.


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