News from the Priory

November 2023 News

November saw two distinct improvements in the transport infrastructure affecting movement to and from Volmoed. First, a bridge over the nearby national road was repaired, allowing traffic to move along that road again, thus reducing traffic volumes that had made travel along the lengthy unpaved detour road not only unpleasant but dangerous. Second, movement along the main road through the bottom of the valley became possible again, once the single-lane bypass around the damage resulting from the storm of late September was completed.

The immediate benefit of these improvements, apart from ease of access to areas beyond the valley from Volmoed, was that people from those areas could once again come to Volmoed relatively easily. There has been a noticeable increase in attendance of the Thursday and Sunday morning church services since, with those who had found themselves unable to come to Volmoed after the storm expressing their delight at being here again.

October 2023 News

Gradual recovery from the devastating storms of late September continues, within the Western Cape generally as well more locally within the Hermanus area and specifically in the Hemel-and-Aarde Valley including here at Volmoed, where efforts are underway to clean up the riverbanks (which has also provided material for neighbours to use in repairing roads on their properties) though the main access road onto the Volmoed property remains impassable. The lengthy detour along a dusty unpaved road with increased traffic volumes is still necessary for travel into Hermanus, though work on opening the main road through the bottom of the valley has begun. The electricity supply remains somewhat unstable, and there are water restrictions for townspeople as the water supply is still constrained.

Br Roger travelled to Mariannhill Monastery Retreat House in Pinetown KZN to attend the annual meeting of the Council for the Religious Life, together with representatives from most of the other religious communities in the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, as well as the Liaison Bishop who facilitates the interaction between the Council and the institutional Church. The meeting took place over two days in early October, and included reports from each community about its life and work, as well as discussion of challenges that exist within communities and between communities and the church. We also prayed and ate together and had times of fellowship, all of which strengthened the supportive relationships among communities.

September 2023 News

Any reflection on events of the past month cannot but be dominated by the astonishing aftermath of the storm that swept through the Western Cape during the night of Sunday 24 September. Roads were extensively damaged, bridges washed away, electricity and water supplies disrupted. The region in which Volmoed is situated continues to grapple with the impact. Road access remains constrained with real concern of it deteriorating further. Several communities have not yet had their electricity supply restored, while some communities are still physically isolated. Water supply to towns and suburbs remains limited.

On Volmoed we have been relatively well off. The level of water in the river rose significantly, and the main access road was inundated, leaving considerable amounts of debris behind when the water level dropped again. Thankfully, no buildings were flooded or otherwise damaged. Our electricity supply was restored by the Wednesday. The main pump for the water system is expected to be usable after it is serviced. We are grateful. We do have to make a substantial detour along a now much busier gravel road in order to get to town and shops.

August 2023 News

This past month featured several opportunities for strengthening our monastic community’s relationships with the wider church in various forms. We are situated within the Diocese of False Bay (in the Anglican Church of Southern Africa), whose bishop, the Right Reverend Margaret Vertue, has just retired. Brs Scott & Edwin attended the final service of ordinations to the diaconate & priesthood carried out by Bp Margaret, at All Saints parish church in Belhar. Brs Roger & Edwin subsequently attended a service of thanksgiving for Bp Margaret’s ministry, at the Kruiskerk in Stellenbosch, shortly before the bishop’s retirement.

And now there are six …

2 brothers with 2 new associates
2 Brothers with 2 new Associates … John de Gruchy AHC, Br Edwin, Isobel de Gruchy AHC, Br Daniel

We once again were pleased to welcome the residential Volmoed community and staff to celebrate the Feast of St Benedict with us. What made this occasion all the more special was that it included the reception of Isobel and John de Gruchy as Associates of Holy Cross. The festal Eucharist at noon in the main chapel was followed by a fine catered meal for all in the Volmoed dining room.

mpumelelo is received as a postulant
Mpumelelo is received as a Postulant

Mpumelelo Khambule was received as a Postulant of the Order on Saturday 15 July. We are happy to have him as a member of our monastic community. His inclusion takes our number to six. Volmoed has helpfully made Faith Cottage, closest to the Priory, available for our use while we work through the process of adding to our own accommodation. Br Daniel has taken up temporary residence there.

June 2023 News

Br Scott met with several clergy on retreat from the Rondebosch Archdeaconry in the days leading up to his departure for the US with Br Roger on 1 June. They attended the annual Chapter gathering of our Order at our Holy Cross Monastery in upstate New York. Brs Edwin and Josias were unable to accompany them due to difficulties with the US visa system. They did well to maintain the rhythm of the life of the Priory here in the absence of the other Brothers.

May 2023 News

Br Scott led a retreat for the Postulants from the Cape Town Diocese Fellowship of Vocation. The group attended our chapel prayers, and the Brothers and Rev Wilma met with them individually for conversation about their vocational journeys.

We also interacted with a group from the York Archdiocese in the UK who were in SA to strengthen the link with the three Anglican dioceses in the Western Cape. They joined us for some chapel prayers and we shared conversation with them around a meal.

We attended a gathering of Volmoed residents over soup and bread for conversation around the experiences of life at Volmoed and concerns about the future. It was a time of strengthening the sense of being community together.

April 2023 News

A VYLTP Taizé Youth Day was held at Volmoed on the Saturday before Palm Sunday. Brs Edwin & Josias participated throughout the day in various ways, while Br Scott led a workshop on an aspect of prayer in the afternoon. All the Brothers attended the evening prayer around the cross together with the young people.

Palm Sunday was of course the beginning of Holy Week. In Br Daniel’s absence, we appreciated Rev Wilma’s availability to preside at the Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday observances. Serghay & Yohane of the Volmoed staff helped Brs Edwin & Josias create the altar of repose in the smaller chapel for use after the Maundy Thursday service in the evening.

It was good to have John de Gruchy with us to preside at the Easter Vigil which began in the darkness on Easter Sunday morning. John then celebrated at the joyful Eucharist which followed while the sun rose after the Vigil.

The Clothing of Two Novices

The month of March opened and closed with significant events for the Brothers at the Priory.

edwin kriel receives the habit
Edwin Kriel receives the habit

Edwin Kriel was clothed as a Novice in the habit of our Order on Saturday 4 March. The ceremony was witnessed by a sizeable congregation of his family and friends from Worcester as well as members of the Volmoed community. It was a happy occasion, and the rain that followed was received as a sign of blessing. Having completed six months as a Postulant, Br Edwin will continue his formation as a Novice for a year. Please join us in prayer for him during this next phase.

josias morobi receives the habit
Josias Morobi receives the habit

Josias Morobi was a member of our monastic community some years ago, at the monastery outside Makhanda (Grahamstown) in the Eastern Cape. Having left to continue his discernment elsewhere, he has now returned to us. Br Josias was clothed as a Novice in the habit of our Order at Vespers on Thursday 30 March, in a ceremony witnessed by members of the Volmoed community. We give thanks for two such happy occasions in a single month. Please do include Br Josias in your prayers.

February 2023 News

Life during the past month or so was unusually full for the Brothers at the Priory. Our monastic choir was also unusually full, with seven of us joining in song and chant during chapel prayers for much of the time.

The main feature was the visitation by Br Robert James, the Superior of our Order. He arrived from the US on Monday 23 January and stayed until Saturday 18 February. This was the first time he was able to return to Volmoed since the start of the pandemic, and it was good to have him with us in person for conversations about our life and work and about our future. While here, Br Robert taught novitiate classes on aspects of liturgy, and also had fruitful discussions with the monastic community on this topic.