Archive for January, 2018

A Memorial to former Provincial Assistant Bishop, the late Bishop David Thomas has been placed in the St Joseph Chapel of the Priory Church.


The Lectern in Joachim’s workshop prior to dispatch

Credo Cymru decided to place the memorial to Bishop David in the Priory Church as it was the church used by him for most of the Ordinations and Chrism Masses he presided over during his episcopacy.  The Priory Church was the location of his Requiem Mass last June, following his sudden death in May.

Like the Jesse Plinth and the Altar in the Chapel the Lectern was designed and made by Joachim Tantau, an honours graduate of the Prince’s School of Traditional Art.


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One Hundred Years ago last August saw the birth of Oscar Romero, who as Archbishop of El  Salvador was Martyred, and is now one of the modern saints remembered on the West-end of Westminster Abbey.


As part of the Romero Festival in South Wales we will host a stunning original play about his life. Romero: Heartbeat of El Salvador will be performed by the RISETheatre here at the Priory on March 13th at 7.30pm. Tickets priced £10 ( Concession £8) are available form the Tithe Barn.


In this month’s Parish magazine, Michael Woodward tells the story of this remarkable man.

Last year marked the centenary of the birth of Oscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdamez, Archbishop of El Salvador, who was murdered whilst celebrating a quiet Mass on 24 March 1980 in the Chapel of the Hospital of Divine Providence, San Salvador. His martyrdom was the culmination of a life spent in the service of God and the poor. It ensured that throughout the world Archbishop Romero became known as an exemplar of authentic Gospel spirituality in the face of grinding poverty, exploitation and persecution perpetrated by a corrupt and violent government on its own citizens. He paid the ultimate price for standing up for the suffering people – mostly poor rural farmers – and defending fellow priests struggling against the oppression of an oligarchy which systematically massacred catechists: to be caught carrying a Bible was a death sentence. Many fled their homes and villages. RISE Theatre have produced a riveting play called Romero: Heartbeat of El Salvador which tells his story. It is coming to the Priory Centre on Tuesday, March 13th. Performed by a talented young cast, the swiftly moving plot depicts the Archbishop’s development from a boyhood marked by an early desire to become a priest to that moment when, as Archbishop, he was pierced by an assassin’s bullet at the altar. John Bosco is an extraordinary stage presence, communicating Romero’s journey and dilemmas with energy and subtlety. The play, with its contemporary soundtrack and images, not only captures the chronology of events, it also depicts the political and social turmoil which gripped the country. This was not a unique situation in Latin America at that time, but it was particularly marked in El Salvador, with its escalating cycle of political murders and disappearances, and where the ‘security services’ had become death squads. The civil war in El Salvador, which lasted from 1977 to 1992, claimed some 75,000 lives: to their shame the USA funded the security forces at $1million per day. Oscar Romero lived through this developing storm as priest, as Bishop, and from 1977 as Archbishop. The play makes clear that he was not, at least during the earlier stage of his career, a man who liked taking sides. His superiors recognised his gift for thoroughness and administration and appointed him to posts where he could diligently exercise it. Gradually, as his duties brought him into deeper contact with extreme poverty and suffering, widespread, violent persecution by the security services, and the priests struggling at local level to address these challenges, Romero evolved into a Bishop and Archbishop for whom quiet respect for the status quo was no longer an option. Romero was particularly touched by the murder of his friend Fr Rutilio Grande, a pioneer of empowering the faith of the poor by encouraging the formation of small Christian communities. This happened days after Romero’s installation as Archbishop. Increasingly ‘Monsenor’, as he is universally known in El Salvador, applied the Gospel to his daily experience, and began to speak clearly for the voiceless, quickly becoming the nation’s principal defender of the oppressed. In his Sunday homilies, broadcast to the nation, he implored a change of heart on the part of the authorities, reviewing in meticulous detail the violence and murder committed during the previous week. This was not a message the authorities wished to hear spoken, but neither could they rebut it; a team of young lawyers and activists corroborated each case. Bombing the radio station just led to imaginative re-routing of broadcasts via Costa Rica. Like Jesus, towards the end of his 3 years of prominent public life, Romero knew that he had become a marked man. Since his martyrdom, Archbishop Romero’s renown has spread far and wide; he is a Christian leader and teacher who belongs to everyone. His life and fate are relevant to our own disturbed world, where the wickedness which convulsed El Salvador in 1980 is still with us. His statue is above the West Door of Westminster Abbey, and he will very likely be canonised soon. This play is strongly recommended for all those interested in applying the Gospel to our lives, and anyone wishing to learn more about Romero’s life and times.

“An awesome and inspiring performance from Rise Theatre.” -—The Cathedral of St John the Baptist, Norwich

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The Relevance of the Rule

What’s Benedict got to do with me?

During Evensong at 6pm during Lent we will look at what the Rule of St Benedict has to say to the Baptised.


February 18th

Benedict for all The Prior

February 25th

Benedict & Holy Scripture – Fr Jonathon Wright (Scriptologist)

March 4th

Lay membership & the rule – Lay members of the Holywell Community

March 11th

Benedictine Prayer – Fr Richard Simons OSB (Belmont Abbey)

March 18th

Benedictine Community -Fr Sam MacNally-Cross (Oblate OSB)




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As well as the National Anniversaries of it being the Centenary of  the ending of hostilities in World War 1, the creation of St John’s Priory for Wales and women getting the vote; it is also our Royal Patron The Prince of Wales 70th Birthday and the 20th Birthday of the Abergavenny Food Festival.



Our Vicar, Canon Mark Soady, said ” It is right that we mark all these land marks in the life of our nation, town and Priory. We are planning how we may best mark all these events in a suitable way. Details to follow.

The Prince of Wales has  a courtyard named after him in the Priory, after his 18 year association with the site as its Development Trust Patron. The Food Festival has always used the Priory as one of its sites. Fr Mark is a Chaplain to both St John’s and the Royal British Legion, and served in the Royal Army Chaplains Department from 1998 -2012.

Seventy Years ago last November HM The Queen and HRH THe Duke of Edinburgh got married- this year we are Celebrating marriage.

One Hundred years ago last August saw the birth of Archbishop Oscar Romero, in March we host a new play about him.


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As we read in Church today St John’s account of the Marriage at Cana in Galilee Canon Mark Soady launched our Year of Celebration of Marriage with his sermon on this Sacrament.


Fr Mark and the Bishop at the Marriage of Samuel & Katy Patterson (August 2017)

Launching the year Fr Mark heaped praise on those who are able and willing to make the commitment of marriage,” as a single man I look on you with some envy”.

He said:

The Prayer Book tells us that Jesus consecrated marriage by his presence at the Wedding in Cana, but Marriage came late to the  list of the seven Sacraments. St Thomas Aquinas  spoke of it as a Sacrament in the 13th Century and his view was confirmed by the Council of Trent 300 years later. It differs from the other sacraments in that the couple are here the ‘actual ministers of marriage’ claims the Benedictine Theologian Anselm Grun.

Marriage is called by many names :

  • betrothal
  • nuptials
  • wedlock – from the old English ‘pledge’
  • matrimony

The term wedding tends to relate to the actual ceremony and accompanying festivities ie ‘wedding breakfast’, ‘wedding cards’, ‘wedding bells’ ‘wedding cake’.

The English word ‘marriage’ comes from the Old  French to ‘give  a husband’ .

Marriage is surrounded by ’emotions’, in to this ‘love’ marriage brings a structure to help partners live together appropriately. In the words of the Prayer Book, “..ordained for the procreation of children, to be brought up in he fear and admonition of the Lord and to praise of his holy name”, so although I am not myself married I have experienced married live I have been affected by it, as I was brought up by a married couple.

The Prayer Book also reminds us “…it was ordained for the mutual society, help and comfort that one ought to have for the other”. Very early on in the history of humankind, as we read in the Book of Genesis God created Eve because ‘it was not good that man should be alone”. The Oxford Zoologist Professor JZ Young claims.” We shall never know at what stage of evolution the family emerged”, but it has been there from the very earliest of times.

So does the ancient natural institution of marriage fit into the Christian sacramental system?

Well the prayer book speaks of it ‘ signifying unto us the mystical union that is betwixt Christ and his Church”. No pressure there then!

This is a Sacrament because the couple saying ‘Yes’ to the the vows is  something to do with God. We speak of the Service as ‘Holy Matrimony’ because it is a union placed under God’s blessing. While it secures the couples hope that their union will remain inviolable, the realist knows that sometimes that union does break up, but surely that does not mean that at that moment the vows were said truthfully and honestly under God.

I quote Anselm Grun again, ” a sacrament is something Jesus brought about two thousand years ago, which  is enacted in our present day world, and which flows in to human activities and achievements now. With regard to marriage, it means that the love which Jesus showed us to the point of death and beyond flows into transform the love of man and woman”.

Christian marriage is mirror of God’s love. The love a husband and wife have for each other enables them (and we who observe it) to get a sense of what Chris’s love actually means.



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As part of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity we will welcome Christians from the town to St Mary’s Priory on Wednesday, January 24th at 12noon


This year following he theme All will be free each denomination will show how it brings Kingdom freedom  through its outreach activities.


Other service in the week are as follows:

  • Thursday 18th: Abergavenny Baptist Church
  • Friday 19th: United Reformed Church
Saturday 20th: The Ecumenical Service would
be held at Llanwenarth Baptist Church, Govilon at 2.30pm.
  • Monday 22nd: Gateway
  • Tuesday 23rd: Methodist Church
  • Wednesday 24th: St. Mary’s Priory Church , (Anglican)
  • Thursday 25th: Salvation Army


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