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» Of Books, Schools and Sisters

Douai Abbey
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» Last Friday Fr Abbot was at Blessed Hugh Faringdon School in Reading to offer Mass for the beginning of the school year. It was the beginning of a week of heightened contact with the school. On Monday this week the new headmaster of Bl Hugh Faringdon, Dr Simon Uttley, came to speak to the monastic community about his mission at the school and how Douai might be help foster the Catholic life of the pupils. To that end today and yesterday about 50 year 7 confirmandi from the school came to visit the monastery, hear a little spiritual input from Frs Alban, Peter and Gabriel, enjoy some lunch and celebrate Mass. This may become a regular feature of the school year.




» Also last Friday the Turner Collection returned to Douai after half a century on permanent loan to Reading University. The collection comprises about 250 pamphlets from late 18th century France, all of which relate to one of our monks, Dom John Turner, who was much involved in the revolutionary politics of the time (when our monastery was, of course, in Paris).

» Wednesday just passed about 17 Aussmption sisters left after spending 10 days in retreat at Douai. It thr first time in many years the sisters had enjoyed a retreat together. We feel cinfident they spent a pleasant and rewarding time with us as today we were happily surprised to receive a delivery of a case of wine from the sisters. They know the way to a monk's heart!




» Falling into autumn

Douai Abbey
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» Last Friday the monastic community concluded a very engaging annual retreat led by Mgr Roderick Strange. After the last conference, the non-resident fathers returned to their homes and the resident community began again to normal round of activity. This week 16 Sisters of the Assumption are with us on a 10-day retreat.

» On the Thursday before the retreat ended Fr Finbar travelled to the Isle of Wight for the funeral of Mother Mary David Totah OSB, prioeress of St Cecilia's. Mother Mary David had been enduring cancer. May she rest in peace.

» Last Monday Fr Abbot was at Ealing Abbey for the first Regimen meeting with the new abbot president, Christopher Jamison OSB. Yesterday Abbot Geoffrey was at Oulton Abbey in Staffordshire for the opening of its new aged care facility. Also present were Abbot David Charlesworth of Buckfast and Bishop David McGough, fellow trustees of Oulton with Abbot Geoffrey.

» On the Retreats & Courses page you can find for download two new brochures, one for the remainder of 2017 and another for 2018.




» Holiday & Retreat

Douai Abbey
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» The community tonight finishes three weeks of constitutional holiday and resumes its full regime of monastic obervance and work.

» Starting tonight is our annual retreat, for which the mission fathers will join the resident brethren, as well as Fr Edmund from Rome and the Anglican Benedictines from Salisbury. Our retreat master this year is Mgr Roderick Strange of St Mary's University, Twickenham.

While we are on retreat please avoid contacting the monks except for when absolutely necessary. Emails would be preferable to phone calls. The retreat ends Friday morning, when we will be back to normal. We thank you for your understanding.




» New Abbot President

Douai Abbey
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» This morning the General Chapter of the EBC gathered at Worth Abbey elected Abbot Christopher Jamison, abbot emeritus of Worth and currently director of the UK National Office of Vocation, as the new Abbot President of the EBC. He replaces Abbot Richard Yeo, who has served as president for 16 years. Ad multos annos!  Abbot Geoffrey has been re-elected as First Assistant to the President, and Abbot Edmund has been re-elected Procurator in Curia, although his title is to change to Procurator General. The General Chapter will conclude this quadrennial session today.

» As the monastery prepares for its summer recess in August, it is a good time to be getting overdue repairs done. Near our refectory some subsidence in the paving stones has required them to be dug up and a new foundation laid for them. In the abbey church, a roof leak in the sanctuary is to be repaired this week. The leaks in the nave await another day. This coming Friday the monastery will be connected to nigh-speed fibre broadband.

» Last week a lime tree near the guest carpark had to be chopped down after it was found to be near death and in danger of toppling onto the library roof in high winds. The main trunk was largely hollow. Fr Bernard took the opportunity to step in and see for himself.






» General Chapter

Douai Abbey
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Today the abbots, abbots, officials and elected delegates of all the houses of the English Benedictine Congregation will assemble at Worth Abbey for the quadrennial EBC General Chapter. From Douai Abbot Geoffrey, Abbot Edmund and Fr Godric will attend. One of their duties will be to elect an abbot president. Please pray for the work of the General Chapter.




» A week of calm

Douai Abbey
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It has been a blessedly calm week thus far. Fr Abbot returned today from a week's holiday with Fr Austin up north. Catholic mental health chaplains have been on retreat here, led by Bishop Richard Moth of Arundel & Brighton. Fr Gabriel is harvesting a goodly yield of honey from the hives. Yesterday in thre abbey church Fr Oliver led the funeral of Bill Brister, an Old Dowegian (and father and grandfather of Old Dowegians).




» The new pavilion

Douai Abbey
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» After much planning was the opening and blessing last Sunday of the new war memorial and Douai Room in the equally new cricket pavilion on our former school's prinicpal playing field. While the monastery still owns the field, it has been leased to the Douai Park Recreation Association which undertook to rebuild the decrepit war memorial cricket pavilion. Old Dowegians contributed to the appeal to finance this and they also fitted out a room upstairs to honour the old school. It houses a display of old school sporting uniforms, trophies and honour boards, and a monitor playing a film remembering the school made by an Old Dowegian, Jonathan Kight. A huge marquee was erected for the day and a splendid lunch, with music, laid on by the Douai Society for the gathered old boys and monastic community. It was the largest ever single gathering of old boys, with well over 200 in attendance. Later in the afternoon a cricket match was played between the old boys of Douai and Downside.






» The bustle of the last few weeks has given way to some relative calm. Yesterday the last of the end of year services for regional schools was held, being the Downland group of ten schools who farewelled their leavers. There have been two large weddings in the abbey church, as well as concerts and school visits, including the last (yesterday) of the regular visits throughout the school term of pupils from the London Oratory School; the last until the new school year, that is.

» Last Friday Fr Hugh drove into central London to collect a number of sacristy items donated by the Faithful Companions of Jesus in Somers Town, who are renovating their convent. They offered a friendly welcome, and are currently blessed with two young novices. We thank the sisters for their generous and useful donations. We thank also, and pray for, those who have donated to the Sacristy Fund and The Douai Magazine, with a trickle of donations still coming in.



» Summer bustle

Douai Abbey
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» The community is into its midsummer period of hustle and bustle. With the end of the school year at hand, a large number of regional primary schools are holding their end-of-year services in the abbey church. Most primary schools do not have a facility big enough to host these events, so we help where we can. Alas some wayward youth left graffiti on a seat in the nave, though thankfully this was able to be removed.

» Given that we still have a couple of school services to host, it was perhaps not ideal timing that the resident community held its semi-annual church clean yesterday. It was neither too warm nor too sunny so we managed to complete the work comfortably before lunch and without too many aches afterwards.

» On 22 June the brethren of Quarr Abbey came to visit us, led by their Abbot Xavier. Abbot Xavier celebrated conventual Mass, which had been moved to midday, after which we adjourned to the refectory for a festal lunch. When they left to return to the Isle of Wight Fr Finbar, one-time the prior administrator of Quarr, went with them in order to celebrate Mass the next day for the nuns at St Cecila Abbey, Ryde, on their patroanl feast. Their original patronage is actually the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

» The following Saturday Fr Oliver went to Westminster Cathedral for the priestly ordination of six deacons who had just finished their pre-ordination retreats at Douai. Ad multos annos! As it happens Fr Oliver, along with Fr Austin, celebrated 40 years of priesthood the following Wednesday. To them also, ad multos annos!

» This week a group of parishioners from our missions at Ormskirk and Scarisbrick are staying at Douai for a holiday, accompanied by Fr Godric, their parish priest.

» We have just learned of the death of Bill Brister, and Old Dowegian who fathered two Old Dowegians and grandfathered three more. The family has had a long association with both our school and monastery. His funeral is planned for 19 July in the abbey church. Requiescat in pace.




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