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» 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» Also yesterday the abbey chruch received the newly-refurbished Pugin sedilia originally made for our church in Douai, France.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

» 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.

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