Ordinariate Priests' Retreat at Buckfast Abbey

This last week St Mary's Abbey, Buckfast, was the venue for the Ordinariate's Priests' Retreat, to which wives were able to attend too. Throughout the week we were able to sing our liturgy in the Mass and Daily Offices together with Adoration and Benediction. We had times of silence and also times for fellowship. And into this basic framework we also had retreat addresses by Mgr John Armitage - a great friend of the Ordinariate and also Rector of the National Shrine to Our Lady at Walsingham. Further to all this we also enjoyed the comfort and meals at the Northgate House of the Abbey.

The Ordinary addresses us after Dinner

During the retreat we took time out to visit the Ordinariate's Personal Parish Church in Torbay. We were all very impressed by the step of faith both their Pastor and his people had made. In fact many of them called it: 'inspiring'.

What Father David and their community had done was to buy a redundant Methodist Church and to begin converting it into a Church for the Ordinariate. It has now been erected as a Personal Parish of the Ordinariate, and Father David made the first Parish Priest.

Though the regular congregation is small, they have plenty of faith and enthusiasm and under the guidance of Father David are accomplishing things many thought unlikely to happen. The most important thing is perhaps the growth in devotional and prayer life of its members. This has been helped by Sr Mary Joseph being connected to the parish (she is a sister under hermit vows under the Ordinariate). They now have daily Mass in the Ordinariate's rite and have plans to begin also publicly saying Mattins and Evensong daily.

All this they are accomplishing on a shoestring budget, with faith and not a little hardship especially by Fr David, his wife and family. However this is also something that inspires others, and the Ordinary announced that a supporter of the Ordinariate had just given £60,000 for the project.

The current project is to convert one of the halls into a presbytery. The original estimate for the conversion seemed achievable so they began to proceed only to find that the tenders came back £60,000 more than estimated. It seemed the plans would stall. However the Ordinary happened to mention it to a supporter in London, who upon hearing this news got out his cheque-book and wrote out a cheque for the amount needed!

No doubt there will continue to be difficulties on the journey of this new Catholic church in the Southwest. While so often the talk is about closing churches, what this small community of Catholic Christians show is that with faith, commitment, enthusiasm and the willingness to suffer for their Lord astounding things are possible.

May Our Lady of Walsingham and St Cuthbert Mayne pray for them.

The main door of the Personal Parish Church of Our Lady of Walsingham with St Cuthbert Mayne, in Chelston, Torbay

Father David sharing the story so far. Behind him the temporary sanctuary. The Organ will be moved in due course in order to provide for a large sanctuary.

One of the stations of the cross
The Lady Chapel
Fr David

The Ordinary, his wife, Mgr Armitage et al

Explaining the plans for the Presbytery

Listening to the plans

The hierarchy is honoured here with a photograph of the Ordinary, the head of the Ordinariate, under the Successor of Peter, our present Pope Francis

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