ST MARY'S PARISH CHURCH HOLYWELL COMMUNITY: St Mary's Priory, Abergavenny
The old monks left Abergavenny following the Reformation of 1537
but on 2 September 2014 a new monastic community came into being in the town with the intention of focussing on community needs within the framework of the Benedictine tradition.
The Holywell community is based in a house on the Holywell estate, and share their possessions in the tradition of holding "everything in common". They live by a monastic rule of life although they have not takien the traditional monastic vows.
The new venture is based on St Mary’s heritage; a Benedictine Priory was established on the site in 1087. The Prior, Fr Mark says, "My predecessor, The Very Revd Jeremy Winston, instituted monthly Monastic Days when people from the parish and further afield could spend a day in the routine of a Benedictine monk, praying the hours and doing outreach work. When I arrived here two and a half years ago I looked at ways that the Benedictine Rule of Life could pervade the life of the parish on a day to day basis. My colleagues and I came up with the idea of a new Monastic Community in the Spirit of St Benedict."
One of the founder lay members Ami says: "It is a great honour and privileged to have been called by God to serve both the Church and wider community in Abergavenny. I am very excited to discover what God has in store for the next year as Sam and I work alongside Fr Mark to bless and serve such a wonderful town. Jesus commanded his disciples to ‘go’ and that’s what we are doing within the Holywell Community: we are going where God sends us to do his work."
Community life is framed by the daily services.
Morning prayer (8.15), Eucharist (8.30), Midday prayer (noon), and Evening Prayer (16.30) are all public services in St Mary's Priory church Monday to Saturday. Compline is said by the Community privately.
The work of the community targets the consequences of poverty in the area. Although Abergavenny is thought of as a wealthy town, the north of the town is the poorest area in Monmouthshire and this juxta-position of wealth and poverty make it more marked. The outworking of some of the issues around deprivation has tangible consequences for other areas of Abergavenny and community life in general, particularly with regard to the town centre and its access points.
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