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» 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

» A Monastic Week

Douai Abbey
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» Yesterday the delegates to General Chapter departed after their meeting here to prepare for the General Chapter in July at Worth Abbey. Also here were the Abbot President, some of the officials of the congregation and the abbots on the president's regimen (his council). To mark their presence among us the Douai brethren hosted a soirée on Tuesday night which saw long, lively and happy discussions. We pray for them all a safe return to their monasteries.

» Today the community marks the golden jubilee of priesthood of Frs Finbar and Boniface. The abbot will celebrate Mass at midday and preach and a number of the mission fathers are coming down for the occasion. After Mass there will be a festal lunch at which guests of both jubilarians and friends of the community will join us. May their day be a blessed one. Ad multos annos!

» Monks' moves

Douai Abbey
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» Yesterday Fr Abbot, assisted by Fr Gabriel, was at St Mary's Schools, Ascot, to administer Confirmation on a number of the girls there, followed by lunch. At the same time Fr Gervase was in Wash Common leading the third of his workshops for extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist.

» On Friday Abbot Thomas of St Louis Abbey flew in via Chicago, accompanied by one of his brethren, Fr Dominic. Yesterday another monk of St Louis, Fr Cuthbert, arrived via Dallas. Fr Cuthbert is the St Louis delegate to the EBC General Chapter, which meets in July at Worth Abbey. This coming week there will be a few days of orientation meetings at Douai for the delegates of all our monasteries in preparation for the General Chapter. Choir will be a lot fuller and louder for a few days.

» In the middle of the past week Fr Benjamin travelled to Yorkshire to assist in the burial of Lady Sonia Fairfax's ashes; her funeral was held in the abbey church a couple of weeks ago.

» Fr Oliver is today at home helping his mother re-adjust after her release from hospital, where she had been treated after a stroke. She has made a good recovery, thanks be to God.

» Chant, and dogs

Douai Abbey
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» After a few days of quiet in the wake of the Triduum and Easter Sunday,  the life of the community is back in full swing. Yesterday and today the community is being treated to intensive inservice in both the theory and practice of Gregorian chant. Leading us is Sr Margaret Truran OSB, an English nun at Sta Cecilia in Trastevere, Rome. She is well known to many of the community and it is a pleasure to have her teaching us.

» Tomorrow Frs Abbot and Alban will be heading to Stanbrook Abbey for the annual EBC History Symposium. Travelling with them will be Sr Margaret, and Fr Boniface of Downside, who has been with us the last couple of days catching his breath after Easter.

» On Low Sunday a dog attacked out poultry during our Sunday Mass, killing one of the laying ducks. The abbot, who had just returned from Mass at Winchester, took some time to get the beast to release a chicken it had bitten. The owners of the dog professed to be oblivious to what their unleashed dog had been doing, and we suspect that they have been coming regularly with their dog while we are busy in Mass. People walking their dogs through our private grounds have long been a problem, especially when we had sheep; some years ago a dog savaged several of our sheep.

We may well soon have to take firmer steps to avoid such issues, not least for the safety of the monks and their guests. For the time being we would firmly request that people do not bring their dogs to Douai Abbey for walks and romps in our grounds. We have livestock that needs to be protected, not to mention ourselves and our guests. The abbey grounds are not public but private property, which we are more than happy to share with those would like to enjoy them responsibly. This invitation, sadly, cannot be extended to dogs. If you would like to bring a dog to Douai you must contact the Bursar's office beforehand. Should permission be given, the dog must be on a leash at all times.

It is regrettable that we have to spell things out like this, but the abuse of our hospitality has adverse effects on others, human and animal. We are surrounded by countryside in which people are able to walk their dogs, subject to the law of the land, so we are confident we are disadvantaging no one.

» Speaking of bursars, Fr Oliver's mother, Anne, is in hospital after suffering a stroke last week. Please keep her in your prayers.

» Holy Week Update

Douai Abbey
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» The last weekend of March proved a busy one at the monastery. Bishop Philip was staying with some of his staff who were to form a Portsmouth diocesan selection committee interviewing eight prospective candidates for the priesthood who were also staying with us. Also here for several days were the knights and companions of the Order of Malta on their annual retreat. Their retreat master was Fr John Hemer MHM. Their robes added a dash of added lustre to the Sunday Mass. Hard their heels as they deprated came several seminarians from Allen Hall in London, who were making their pre-diaconate retreat under the direction of Fr Alban.

» The latest issue of The Douai Magazine is now available for collection at the back of the abbey church and at the monastery's reception. Those who have subscribed for it to be delivered by mail should be receiving theirs soon. The Magazine is still offered free, but any donations are gratefully accepted!

» On Wednesday last week Fr Abbot made is regular tour of our parishes in the Midlands. The same evening the Body of Sonia, Lady Fairfax was received into the abbey church, prior to her funeral the next day, whch was celebrated by Abbot Geoffrey assisted by a number of monks and a schola from the Douai Abbey Singers. May she rest in peace.

» Last Saturday Fr Abbot went to Wardour Castle to hear a lecture on the silverware belonging to that historic chapel.

» For the commnunity's Palm Sunday pontifical Mass an innovation was introduced: instead of processing from the parish church, always an akward affair, we processed from outside the library, skirting the edge of the library law to the west door of the abbey church. It was a great improvement and will become a regular feature of our Palm Sunday Mass from now on. This year the glorious warm sunshine gave the day a summer feel.

» This morning another stalwart of the abbey church congregation, Mary Bellhouse, died. She had been ill for some time but her death was still something of a surprise. May she rest in peace.

» For those interested in joining the monastic community for its liturgies in the abbey church over the Sacred Triduum, the times are as follows:

Maundy Thursday: Mass of the Lord's Supper 8pm, followed by Adoration
Good Friday: Solemn Liturgy of the Lord's Passion 3pm
Holy Saturday: Great Vigil Mass of Easter 9pm
Easter Sunday: Solemn Mass of the Lord's Resurrection 11am

Please note that on Easter Monday the monks' Mass will be at 9.15am.

The monastic community prays for all our benefactors, friends and associates a most blessed and grace-filled Triduum.

» Back on track

Douai Abbey
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» After some strange problems on the website we have changed the hosting for both website and email. The process is complicated by our using a filtering security service which adds a layer between us and the internet. It seems now to be complete and the website and email are working properly. This is an improvement for both these services, especially for our email which has now been moved off our ancient onsite server.

» Over the past weekend Douai hosted the national retreat for Benedictine oblates. It proved a busy weekend here as we also hosted the Wokingham Catenians and a confirmation group from Kensal Newtown.

» On Tuesday this week Fr Abbot visited Culham Court near Henley to see the extraordinary private chapel there, and its fine architectural and liturgical features.

» Yesterday Fr Oliver visited his mother to celebrate her 91st birthday. That evening the body of Leopold Antelme was received at the abbey church ready for the funeral Mass today at 11am. Also last night Fr Hugh celebrated a Missa cantata for the Order of Malta at St James', Spanish Place in London. The Knights of the Order will be at Douai this coming weekend on retreat.

» The latest issue of The Douai Magazine is now available from the back of the abbey church or from the monastery's reception area. Copies for subscribers will be posted next week.

» Deaths in the family

Douai Abbey
Published by in News ·
In the last 48 hours the comunity has been saddened by the deaths of three locals who were well-known or of great service to the monastic community. Jenny Smith, the sacristan at the church at Burghfield, which until very recently had been part of the abbey parish, died from cancer. Leopold Antelme also died after illness. He was an Old Dowegian and had been actively involved with the community over many decades. Lady Sonia Fairfax, a stalwart of the abbey church congregation and at one time Lady of the Bedchamber to Queen Elizabeth II, died in her home after several months of rapid decline. Both had received the last rites from Fr Oliver and Fr Benjamin respectively.

May their souls, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

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