» On 8 October Fr Abbot went to Blessed Hugh Faringdon School in Reading to celebrate Mass for the new pupils there. Also that day Sr Laurentia of Stanbrook came to stay for the week to do some study, as well as catching up with the community. It is a few years since she has been here.
» The next day Fr Hugh attended the Coptic Church's vespers and offering of incense for Nayrouz, the Coptic new year. Held at St Margaret's, Westminster, it was an ecumenical event with addresses or messages from church leaders, HM the Queen, the Prince of Wales, the Prime Minister and members of the House of Lords, including Lord Alton.
» On 11 October the portrait of Margaret Wake, 17th century prioress of the English Carmelites in Antwerp, was brought back to Douai by Fr Abbot. Part of the gift of archives and artworks from the now-closed carmel of St Helens, it has been carefully restored over the last year and is now looking resplendent indeed.
» Next day, Friday, Sr Margaret Truran of Sta Cecilia in Rome stayed the night with us on her way back to Rome after the funeral of her mother. While the occasion was sad, her visit was not unwelcome.
The same day a travelling exhibit from the diocese of Westminster came to Douai. Covering the life of Cardinal Manning, an important but not well-enough known figure in the reurgence of the Catholic Church in England in Victorian times, the exhibition will be in the abbey church for 6 weeks.
» Saturday, 13 October, saw Fr Hugh, on his 50th birthday, at the Aid to the Church in Need event at Westminster Cathedral. After Mass, there was a series of addresses in the cathedral hall, including from Sr Luma OP, who spoke of the plight of Iraqi Christians in their homeland, and the family of Asia Bibi, the Christian who is on death row in Pakistan on a false charge of blasphemy and whose appeal is currently before Pakistan's supreme court.
» With the arrival of Fr Gregory in the novitiate, there are now four birthdays in a row in October: It has meant a busy time for Sarah in the kitchen as she has made cakes for all our birthdays, decorating them according to some aspect of the person concerned. Two of the recent cakes are shown below.
» We have heard that Fr Alexander, PP at our parish in Stratford-on-Avon, was in Rome for the canonizations last Sunday of St Paul VI and St Oscar Romero, among others.
» On Monday this week an expert from the National Portrait Gallery in London visited to make a brief initial survey of the many portraits of monks, nuns, divines, saints and kings held at Douai.
» Also this week we hosted a meeting of the rectors of the seminaries of the Church in England and Wales.
» On Wednesday 17 October Tom Messenger arrived to spend a number of weeks as an alongsider with the monastic community, during which time he will live, eat and work alongside us. Please pray for him that his time with us with be fruitful.
The same night was the launch of Fr Hugh's new book, Ecumenism of Blood: Heavenly Hope for Earthly Communion, published by Paulist Press in New York. Held at St Wilfrid's Hall at the London Oratory, and somewhat affected by the railway chaos that day, a good number of guests, including Frs Abbot and Prior, Lord Alton, Bishop Wilson of Westminster, heard addresses from +Angaelos, Coptic Archbishop of London, and Professor Anthony O'Mahony of the Pontifical Oriental Institute. Paulist Press' UK distributor has just gone out business, so while a new distributor is found the book will be available very soon direct from Douai Abbey itself, and can be ordered from Amazon or The Book Depository.
» Today the Friends of Salisbury Cathedral will be making a day visit to Douai, with tours of the abbey church and library included in their itinerary.