Latest News From The Monks of St. Augustine's
23rd December 2010 - A New Home
After 10 months of careful deliberation, the Benedictine monks of St Augustine's Abbey in Ramsgate, have voted to purchase the Franciscan Friary at Chilworth, Surrey, as their new home.
On 15th October last year, the Community of eleven monks announced their decision to vacate the monastery on the Kent coast which has been their home for 149 years, and to relocate to smaller premises. Only 4 months after taking that decision, their brief initial search for a new property came to an end when the Order of Friars Minor made public their own similar decision to leave their Victorian Friary on the outskirts of Guildford, and suggested that the building might be suitable for the Benedictines of Ramsgate.
For almost 120 years Chilworth Friary, a Grade 2 listed building designed by Frederick Walters and constructed in 1892, has served as the Franciscans' Novitiate house, a place of studies for the training of new entrants to the Order. As a purpose-built religious dwelling with its own church and cloister, it seems an ideal location for a monastic Community.
Fr Michael Copps OFM, Minister Provincial of the Friars Minor, commented: "One of the most difficult things I have had to do as Provincial was to come to the decision that we could no longer sustain our house at Chilworth. Most of the Friars in the Province started their religious life there, and have fond memories of a monastic building that managed to be homely, with a beautiful church set in woods on the top of a hill. I had been thinking with horror that it might become a hotel or health spa, until I was shown the information on the Internet that the Ramsgate Benedictines had decided that they had to leave Ramsgate and look for a smaller monastery. Reading their 'wish list' for the place they were looking for, I saw that Chilworth ticked nearly all the boxes. We see it as providential that it is going to continue as a building housing men dedicated to seeking God's will in living the monastic life. St Francis found shelter in a Benedictine Monastery at the beginning of his calling. Though the Friars are sad, it is good to be helping the Ramsgate Benedictines continue their life in a new home."
Dom Paulinus Greenwood OSB, Abbot of Ramsgate, concurred saying: "We have been extremely fortunate in finding a suitable new home within such a relatively short period of time, and will always be grateful to the Franciscans for alerting us to the availability of their Friary. Since making the difficult decision to move from Ramsgate just over a year ago, we have been encouraged and supported by the goodwill, prayers and benefactions of many people, and we do not forget them. We feel that this is God's will for our Community at this time, and hope to forge ahead in the coming months to re-establish our monastic life and witness in this beautiful, tranquil setting."
8th December 2009 - Solemn Profession of Fr Thomas David Kolangaden OSB
During Mass on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Fr Thomas Kolangaden OSB of our Community made his Solemn Profession of Monastic Vows: a life commitment to the Benedictine vows of Stability, Conversion of Life, and Obedience.
The Abbot and Community were joined by many friends, parishioners, Religious, and members of the local clergy for the celebrations.
Fr Thomas who is originally from Kerala, India, has been with us since 2003, and for a number of years has been Guest Master in the monastery.
15th October 2009
Benedictine Monks of St Augustine's Abbey, Ramsgate, Seek New Home.
The Benedictine Monks of St Augustine's Abbey, Ramsgate, Kent, have voted to vacate the monastery in which they have lived for 148 years, and to relocate the Community. This follows a long process of discussion and discernment, and after taking professional advice.
The present Abbey, built in 1861, designed by Edward Pugin, the son of renowned Gothic-revival architect Augustus Pugin, can house 40 monks. The Community, which currently numbers eleven monks between the ages of 24 and 88, is no longer able to meet the Abbey's considerable running and maintenance costs. The monastic Community, therefore, is now actively looking for a new property and location better suited to its size and requirements.
Dom Paulinus Greenwood OSB, the Abbot of St Augustine's, commented: "We are united in our search for a new site which will enable us to live an authentic, balanced, monastic life of prayer, work, and study, according to the spirit of the sixth-century Rule of St Benedict, and to share that way of life with others who feel truly called to it. This is traditionally characterised by the daily celebration of Mass and the seven Liturgical Hours of the Divine Office, the reception of guests, manual work, and various intellectual pursuits. We look to promote the enduring values of Benedictine monasticism and plan to extend and develop our existing guest ministry to offer residential and non-residential hospitality to groups and individuals, both men and women. We also hope to offer structured retreats, educational courses and spiritual and intellectual study days."
A new Abbey will need adequate provision for a church, land for market gardening, and other dedicated work areas, especially for producing the Community's successful range of 'Sanctuary' products (honey, beeswax furniture polish, organic lip-balms and skin creams), and a shop in which to display and sell them. There is also a pressing need for a practical, user-friendly structure in which to house the Community's large monastic library. Moreover, given that all these changes will involve considerable cost, the Community will shortly be launching a public appeal to help raise the necessary funds.
The Abbot and Community sincerely hope that whoever acquires the Abbey property will show sensitivity to its historical and architectural significance, and be mindful of its importance locally as part of the cultural heritage of the wider Pugin family legacy.
Further information will be posted on the 'News' page as and when it becomes available.
Registered Charity No. 245415 – Trustees of St Augustine's Abbey, Ramsgate.
Note: The first monks arrived in Ramsgate from the Italian monastery of Subiaco in 1856, and successfully evangelized much of the coastal region of Kent, establishing and, for many years administering, all but one of the existing Catholic parishes on the Isle of Thanet, whilst acting as chaplains to the locality's numerous convents of nuns and Religious Sisters.
The monks also provided independent preparatory and secondary Catholic education in the area for 130 years from 1865 until the closure of The Abbey School and St Augustine's College in 1995.
On 1st January this year the monks officially withdrew from all responsibility for the running of parishes.
13th - 20th July 2009 - Benedictine Juniors' Congress, Rome.
The youngest of our monks, Bro. Anselm Carpenter OSB, aged 24, flew to Rome on the 13th July to take part in a week-long international gathering of Junior Monks (i.e. those who have taken their first vows). The residential Congress took place at Collegio Sant' Anselmo, the Central Headquarters of the Benedictine Order, situated on the Aventine hill in Rome. The purpose of the Congress, which is held every few years, is to bring together young monks from all over the world in order for them to experience, at first hand, the geographical, linguistic, and cultural diversity of the Benedictine Confederation, while, at the same time, witnessing the riches of the common monastic tradition that unites them. Monasteries from every continent were represented. In the fierce heat of a Roman summer, the participants enjoyed a busy programme of liturgical celebrations, sight-seeing, excursions to places traditionally associated with St Benedict, and, of course, the culinary delights of Italian hospitality.
12th July 2009 - Annual Pigrimage in Honour of St Mildred of Thanet.
This year Fr Abbot was invited to preside and preach at the Mass in honour of St Mildred on Sunday 12th July 2009. This was a full, sung Pontifical Mass, celebrated in the beautiful church of St Mary the Virgin, Minster-in-Thanet. The Benenedictine monks and nuns of St Augustine's Abbey, Ramsgate and St Mildred's Priory, Minster Abbey, were joined by members of the local clergy, Religious Sisters, and many pilgrims and parishioners of the Thanet Deanery for this annual event.
Click here to view photos taken on the day.
25th May 2009 - St. Augustine's Monastery on Reuters
23rd May 2009 our new web-shop was featured on Reuters News Click here to see us!
26th April 2009 - Visit from Ann and Michael Kelly
On Sunday 26th April Michael Kelly, a former parishioner of St Augustine's Abbey, and his sister, Ann, an Old Girl of the Ursulines at Westgate-on-Sea, visited the monastery and the abbey grounds.
Michael spent 25 years working for the Royal Household and was awarded the LVO (Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order) for his service. Ann, who has just returned from India where she was assisting the Benedicitne Sisters of Grace & Compassion, was awarded the MBE for her missionary work in Barbados where she has lived and worked for over thirty years.
21st March 2009 - Golden Jubilee of Profession
On 21st March 2009, the Prior of the Monastery, the Very Rev. Dom Benedict Austen OSB, celebrated his Golden Jubilee of Monastic Profession: 50 years in vows.
The occasion was marked by a High Mass in the Abbey Church, followed by a champagne reception with buffet luncheon for family, friends, former parishioners, local religious, and members of the Thanet Deanery Clergy.
Click Here to view photos taken on the day.