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Douai Abbey
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» The last week and a half has been heavy on things patrimonial. On 10 November our Florentine Madonna finally returned after a long period of restoration by eminent conservator Ruth Bubb. The restoration has lightened the painting immensely and revealed details previously unnoticed. It has returned to its home in the long cloister.

» This past week the new Short History and Guide of the Library was received from the printers. Written by Abbot Geoffrey and designed and produced by Fr Hugh, it will meet a growing demand for information about the Library and Archives, and their contents. It will soon be on sale for £5 in the Library.

» This past week 21 Benedictine senior educators stayed at Douai for a brief retreat led by Fr Gabriel of St Benet's, Oxford. The weekend before there was an oblates' retreat here led by Fr Gervase. This weekend we have a number of seminarians from Wonersh on retreat with us. All these activities reflect something of our traditional involvement in the life of the Church.

» Back to normal

Douai Abbey
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» After a week which saw three separate English Benedictine Congregation meetings held in quick succession at Douai, things have settled back to a more normal pitch. We were fortunate to have all the novice masters and mistresses here to celebrate both All Saints and All Souls, the latter with its blessing of the community graves. The Abbot President Christopher Jamison visited for two of the meetings.

» Our recent monastic experience weekend went well, and we are still awaiting a better idea of what fruit it may have borne. We hope next year to run an "alongsider programme" at Douai, and some of the monastic experience weekenders have expressed interest in this. More food for prayer.

» One of our ancillary staff, Graham, turned 50 last Friday, and the community threw a small surprise party for him. He has been with us for 3 decades already, and is trusted as if he were a member of the monastic community. Ad multos annos!

» Yesterday Fr Hugh sang Mass at Wardour Castle, which is an important part of English recusant heritage and its chapel is actively used for Catholic worship to this day.

» Abbey church advisory

Douai Abbey
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For those intending to visit the abbey church in the next day or two, please note that the paving outside the west door of the church is being replaced after the accumulation of damage over the years. Please take care if entering via that door, and be alert to any notices that might advise entry via the north door.

» Monastically busy

Douai Abbey
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» This past weekend six men stayed here on a monastic experience weekend. We pray that from their number we may reap a vocation or two.

» On Saturday a weary but cheery Fr Cuthbert flew in from St Louis, Missouri. He is the advance guard of two meetings being held at Douai this week: of the congregation's novice masters and mistresses, and the congregation's Commission for Continuing Formation, established by General Chapter last July. May their work this week be frutiful.

» Tonight the EBC Continuing Formation Commission met with the resident community to explain something of their brief and to hear any input we had to offer.

» Abbey stones & mobile monks

Douai Abbey
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» On Friday last week Fr Abbot was part of the public meeting St James' church, Reading, of the Hidden Abbey Stones Project. The project seeks to raise awareness of, and recover, the many building stones from the now-ruined Reading Abbey which are believed to have made their way to other parts of the town in the centuries since the monastery was dissolved by Henry VIII in 1538.

» Last weekend, at short notice, Fr Hugh was in Jersey to supply in the parish at St Helier.

» On Tuesday Fr Abbot travelled to see the brethren in Ormskirk. Today he is returning via Stratford for a meeting of the Douai Abbey Parishes' Trust, which Fr Peter and Br Simon are also attending along with other monks from Douai parishes.

» This week Bishop Peter Doyle of Northampton and two dozen of his clergy are making their annual retreat at Douai.

» Some brethren have recently returned from beaks away but a nasty cold is still taking a toll on the resident community.

» Stretched, & a Catalogue

Douai Abbey
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» The community is significantly stretched at the moment, a combination of more than usual numbers of monks away at once on holiday or work, and illness. Please be patient if any requests are not answered immediately.

» Today Frs Abbot and Austin are visiting Fr Richard at his parish in south-west Wales.

» At last we have more information on concerts in the abbey church, which can be found on the Concerts page.

» For some years some Dutch academics at the University of Nijmegen have been working on the catalogue of our monastery in Paris, compiled by Dom Benet Weldon. Next year it will be printed in a limited run. However, it can be delved into online thanks to their tireless efforts. You can have a look to see what our monks were reading in the 17th century by following this link. The catalaogue will be permanently linked from the Library page.

» Fraternity

Douai Abbey
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» In the week just passed we happy to welcome more than 30 clergy of Portsmouth diocese, along with Bishop Philip, for a five-day retreat led by Fr Nicholas King SJ. Aprt from the obvious spiritual importance of such an occasion, it was clear that the week allowed for some renewal of camaraderie among clergy most of whom live alone and do not always get to see their brethren in the diocesan presbyterate.

» Such fraternal spirit is no less vital in the monastery. During the past week Fr Abbot has visited the brethren on the midland parishes, bringing back a supply of apples from Fr Francis at Kemerton; and Frs Alban and Benjamin visited Fr Benedict at Studley. As part of a different sort of fraternity, the Society of Our Lady of Winton, the fraternity of Catholic parents at Winchester College, held their annual dinner in London last Friday, at which Fr Hugh represented the community and gave the address, speaking on the place of boys in the Rule of St Benedict.

» In the coming week a number of the resident brethren will be away at various stages, most of them seizing the opportunity to grab some holiday, but some to attend the funeral this coming Thursday of Joan McLarnon in Ormskirk, who has died after a long battle with lymphoma. Two days before she died Fr Boniface received her oblation to the monastery on her deathbed. May she rest in peace. On Tuesday night Fr Hugh will be at Hinsley Hall in Leeds to speak to the national conference of diocesan financial secretaries.

» Also this past week, the display at the entrance to the monks' refectory of 19th-century Minton tiles depicting the medal of St Benedict, relics of old Stanbrook Abbey, has been enhanced by the addition of a spotlight, which is governed by a timer. It makes an even more striking feature as we enter for meals.

» Into Autumn

Douai Abbey
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» Autumn is here and the community is quietly busy. Several of the brethren are having flu jabs for what is predicted to be a bad season for flu.

» School visits continue, most recently last Thursday when 40 pupils from the Oratory Prepartory school came for the day, looked after by Fr Benjamin. Fr Benjamin will go to Thorngrove School on Monday to answer questions about Catholic and monastic life from the senior pupils.

» Another of our ducks ash been mauled to death by a dog. We still see people bring their dogs to walk in our private grounds, letting them off the leash. We would remind people that our grounds are not open for dog-walking without prior and explicit permission from the Bursar, and dogs should never be off their leash, for the safety not only of our poultry but also of monks and their guests.

» Today Fr Alban is travelling to Ormskirk where Joan McLarnon, a long-time friend of community and the parish at Ormskirk, is in hospital, gravely ill. The community is praying for her actively, and for others who have been brought to our attention.

» Today four Friars of the Immaculate leave us after making a long retreat in our Cottages.

» Yesterday we celebrated the 75th birthday of Fr Finbar, and the Golden Jubilee of Abbot Geoffrey's monastic profession. Ad multos annos!

» Last Monday we took delivery of a dalmatic to match the chasuble and cope we acquired late last year, made in an Italian silk fabric, "Musical Anegls", by Mary Collings of Norwich. It was partly funded by gifts to our vestment fund. The dalmatic and its accessories are the kind benefaction of Rev Christopher Walters and family of Jersey, to whom we offer thanks and remembrance in prayer and Masses, as for all our benefactors. This new gold set will be used for major solemnities likle Christmas and Easter.

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