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» A week of calm

Douai Abbey
Published by in News ·
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.

» Abbatial manouevres et al

Douai Abbey
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» This week the monks have been thin on the ground. Some monks are on, or have just returned from, holidays. The abbot has been in and out. Last Sunday he celebrated Mass to mark 50 years of the parish of Wash Common, which some of our monks have served over the years. On Tuesday he was at the British Library doing research and then went to Lambeth Palace for the launch of Reunion Revisited: 1930s Ecumenism Exposed by Fr Mark Vickers. In the latter part of this week he has been staying at our parish in Ormskirk.

» Last year the old boys of school, the Douai Society, took our run of The Douai Magazine away to be digitized. This project, generously funded by the Douai Society, is now complete, and the issues from the beginning up to the year 2000 can now be found hosted by them at the Douai Society website. A link to the archive will be added to our Links page as well.

» The Young & the Senior

Douai Abbey
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» On Saturday last Fr Abbot confirmed 28 pupils from Winchester College and St Swithun's, Winchester, in the abbey church.

» This week Douai has been hosting the Union of Monastic Superiors, the body covering the superiors of the various monastic houses in the British Isles, including the Anglican ones. On Wednesday they visited Lambeth Palace and met with Justin Welby, the incumbent of Canterbury. Joining them at Douai was the new abbot primate of the Benedictine confederation, Gregory Polan, his first visit to us after his election last September.

» On Tuesday night Fr Hugh attended an advanced screening in London of a film soon to be released, Summer inthe Forest, about Jean Vanier and some of the original residents of the L'Arche community.

» Repairs and retirements

Douai Abbey
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» Yesterday the Visitor, Abbot President Richard Yeo, and his assistant Abbot Luke Jolly of Worth, came to Douai to deliver the final visitation reports and bring the quadrennial visitation to a formal close.

» Also yesterday the abbey chruch received the newly-refurbished Pugin sedilia originally made for our church in Douai, France. Dating from the mid-nineteenth century, they had fallen into desuetude and disrepair after the post-conciliar re-ordering of the abbey church made them redundant. Our seemstress, Sally Fish, has re-webbed and re-upholstered them, and a colleague of hers has repaired the areas of deterioration in the woodwork. They will now be permanently sited near the main altar, to be used at Sunday Mass and other big liturgical events. We will no longer have to lug the wooden chairs from the choir for this purpose.

» Today Fr Abbot was given a farewell lunch at Wonersh seminary, having taught there for 21 years. As a parting gift the seminary community gave him the latest tome on the English Reformation, Heretics and Believers, by Professor Peter Marshall.

» This week Fr Oliver is away at a religious bursars' conference at Worth Abbey, and tonight Frs Alban and Gabriel heard the confessions of the confirmandi at Winchester College who will be confirmed by the abbot in the abbey church this Saturday.

» Stratford Pilgrims & Ecumenical Vespers

Douai Abbey
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» On Sunday 21 May an ecumenical group of pilgrims organised by Fr Alex and his parish at Stratford-on-Avon spen the afternoon at Douai, enmjoying a tour of the monastery, some input from the brethren and then vespers. It was a beautiful, sunny afternoon and they enjoyed Douai looking its best.

» Beginning last week Fr Peter has had the blessing of a visit from his sister and niece, who live in Canada.

» Last Sunday a number of the brethren returned to Magdalene College in Cambridge to sing vespers in the chapel of what had been a college for Benedictine monastic students until the Reformation. The schola was made up of, from the resident community, Frs Abbot, Oliver, Hugh and Gabriel, with Fr Godric representing the mission fathers. Fr Oswald of St Benet's, Oxford joined us as did a monastic student there, Br Jaroslaw from Glenstal. A ring-in among the monastic choristers was Mgr Mark Langham, the Catholic chaplain at Cambridge. The chapel was full for the vespers, at which the college chaplain, Rev Nick Widdows, giving a well-pitched sermon on St Augustine of Canterbury. After the vespers, the Master of Magdalene, Lord Williams (formerly Archbishop of Canterbury and a confrater of Douai), and the Fellows, including Professor Eamon Duffy, entertained the brethren to drinks and supper.

» 'Ofmon' inspection, et al.

Douai Abbey
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» Starting on Monday, the Douai community will be undergoing the quadrennial Visitation by the Abbot President, assisted by Abbot Luke of Worth. Since long before schools, care facilities etc were inspected, monasteries have been inspected, or visited, to ensure that the monastic community is following the Rule and constitutions; that the liturgy, formation studies and finances of the monastery are sound; and to allow the brethren a chance to voice concerns, fears and even joys. The actual Visitation will last a few days and a report will be delivered by the Visitors at the end of May.

» The abbot has a reasonably full plate at the moment. These past few days he has attended meetings of the Berkshire Record Society and the Jacobite Studies Committee, and tomorrow he will confer the sacrament of Confirmation at Portsmouth Cathedral.

» On Wednesday Douai hosted a book launch in the guest refectory. The book, Gradual: A Renaissance chant book and its role in the Counter-Reformation, by Julian Berkeley and Tony Scotland, is a small and handsome harbound volume that charts the rescue, restoration and history of a rare book of Gregorian chant printed at the famous Plantin press in Antwerp in 1598, and found in a parlous state in a bookshop at Kingsclere, a few miles from Douai. It is published by Shelf Lives based locally at The Pottery in Baughurst. It sells for a modest £15. If you would like a copy enquire through the webmaster.

Julian Berkeley addresses the launch guests

One of the restored volumes on display at the launch

The book, available for £15

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