Thursday, October 15, 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 of the Community’s website 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.

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