Catching Up

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Catching Up

Douai Abbey: The Monastery of St Edmund, King & Martyr
Published in News · 19 December 2023
IF THERE IS ONE THING WE ARE at present, it is busy. Add to this the tyranny of distance between monastery and web-monk, and there is the not-unexpected result that updating the news here has suffered. But herewith, below, a catch-up post!

» Our annual retreat at the very end of August was given by Abbot Christopher Zielinski, abbot of Lendinara in the north of Italy. The community enjoyed his conferences delivered with warmth and wisdom. During the retreat Abbot Paul clothed Br Tobias Flynn as a novice. We pray that he will persevere in the monastic life and flourish at Douai.
» During the summer we were able to welcome back Br Cassian, a monk of Ndanda in Tanzania who is studying at the Beda in Rome and living at Sant’Anselmo.
» At the end of September Father Geoffrey contributed a paper on the Jesuit library at Scarisbrick Hall to a three-day conference at Campion Hall in Oxford, held to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the British Province of the Jesuits.

» The monastic community was saddened at the death of Celia Primavesi in September. She was a much-loved member of the community at St Luke’s, Theale. Our prayers and sympathy are with her husband Greg, also very much involved at St Luke’s and at the monastery. Five members of the community concelebrated her funeral at St Luke’s.
» Fr Boniface, in a spell of very bad health, spent five weeks in the Royal Berkshire Hospital before moving to Holy Cross, a Catholic care home in Heathfield, Sussex.  The home is run by the Sisters of Grace and Compassion, an active congregation of Benedictine sisters. He has settled in there very well, and is much recovered from his earlier malady. We know he is appreciative of the kind messages he has been sent from near and far.
» We continue to be visited by men who are actively discerning a possible vocation to Benedictine life at Douai. Once again we welcomed an “alongsider” to live with us for two months in the autumn.
» The Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMM) at Cold Ash have left their home and moved to Canning Town. The sisters there have had strong links with Douai for over 100 years, and the convent at Cold Ash was for a time the sisters novitiate house. For the last 40 years a rota of our monks have said Mass for them several times a week. As well as various pieces of furniture, we have inherited a fish tank which Fr Gabriel and Br Tobias have now stocked with a selection of tropical fish.
» Different groups have been on retreat during the autumn: the clergy of the Portsmouth and Arundel & Brighton dioceses, the co-workers of the Passionists, and the young people belonging to YouCan, a network of young Catholics who have established links with ourselves and many other monasteries.
» Fr Abbot has been busy with his abbatial responsibilities and with his continuing work for the Bishops’ Conference as Secretary to the Liturgy Office. He has also attended various meetings including with the other abbots, with the abbesses, of the English Benedictine Congregation. He has also undertaken the visitation of our parishes in Scarisbrick (Lancs) and Stratford-upon-Avon (Warks).
» Our bespoke and precious set of vestments known as the Ward Vestments, which date from the 1890s, have suffered damage over the years, although they are only used twice a year, on the solemnity of our patron, St Edmund, and at Pentecost. The cope and the deacon’s dalmatic have been sent to Watts in London for specialist repairs.
» Br Aidan has been elected by his fellow students as student representative at the Blackfriars studium in Oxford.

» The Rodolfus Choir are returning to Douai after five years’ absence, for our traditional New Year’s Eve concert. It will be an offering of festive choral music from composers including: J.S. Bach, Howells, Pärt, Victoria, Warlock, and Gabrieli, as conducted by Ralph Allwood MBE and Elinor Cooper. Tickets are £15, but for under-18s, £10, and are available at

- in the abbey church -
0620 - Matins & Lauds (English)
0745 - Weekday Conventual Mass
[1030 - Sunday Conventual Mass]
1250 - Midday Office (English)
1800 - Vespers (Latin, Gregorian Chant)
2000 - Compline* (English)
*No public Compline on Sundays
Douai Abbey
Upper Woolhampton
Reading, Berkshire
RG7 5TQ, United Kingdom

Visitor Enquiries: 0118 9715 399
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