News from the Priory

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.

January 2023 News

Volmoed welcomed a substantial number of guests during the festive season. As a result, our Christmas and New Year’s Day (on which we observe the Feast of the Holy Name) chapel celebrations were well attended with many joining us for coffee/tea and confections afterwards. We are pleased to be able to offer hospitality in this way. Our monastic community brought the old year to a close in fellowship with several of the residential Volmoed community and friends on New Year’s Eve.

November 2022 News

A young man from KwaZulu Natal who is discerning a monastic vocation made his first visit with our community. His understanding of religious life has been nurtured by a women’s community in KZN. During his visit, he joined us in making a pilgrimage to Cape Agulhas, the southernmost tip of Africa and officially the place where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet. It also has a beautiful seashore and the third oldest lighthouse (established in March 1849) on the South African coast.

October 2022 News

The Brothers at Volmoed were accompanied by John de Gruchy on a day pilgrimage to nearby Genadendal, the site of the first mission station in South Africa (established by Moravians who were also a significant part of the early history of Volmoed and of the valley we are situated in). We were warmly welcomed and shown great hospitality. The site has been substantially restored in recent years. The driving force behind the restoration is Dr Isaac Balie, the first curator of the comprehensive museum, who graciously guided us on an extensive tour, sharing his encyclopaedic knowledge of the remarkable history of the place, including extraordinary verbatim quotations. We were even treated to some lovely organ music, beautifully played by the local organist of over 50 years on the fine instrument they have in the attractive church building there.

Camino Completo

Together with a good friend, Br Daniel arrived in Santiago de Compostela on 2 October, having set out on the Camino from St Jean across the French border on 18 August. He attended the Pilgrim Mass that evening, which he found quite moving. As he was in his monastic habit, he was asked for blessings and thanksgivings from other pilgrims, which was a special experience. He then continued to Finisterre on the coast, which brought his pilgrimage to an end. He will be spending three days in Madrid before returning to southern Africa to continue his sabbatical in Namibia.

A New Postulant

Edwin Kriel was received into our Order as a Postulant here at St Benedict’s Priory on Thursday 1 September. The postulancy is a six-month period of deeper discernment which is also the beginning of the process of monastic formation. We are very pleased that Edwin has joined our community and ask you to pray with us that the blessing will be mutual. Edwin comes to us from Worcester in the Western Cape.

Thursday 25 November – The Feast of James Otis Sargent Huntington

This week saw our celebration for the second time at Volmoed of our Order’s Founder’s Day. We were pleased to host the other Volmoed residents and staff to a festive lunch following the midday Eucharist.

Fr. James Otis Sargent Huntington was the first member of the Order of the Holy Cross to make his life profession, doing so on 25 November 1884 in New York, NY, USA. James Huntington was a passionate advocate of social justice, seeing prayer and action as inextricably intertwined. He has been described as forward-reaching, looking for enriching change and development, interested in the future.

We ask for your prayers for us and for our brothers throughout this Order that was established by the confident endurance of that remarkable man, that we may continue faithful to the spirit of our Founder.

First-anniversary news from St Benedict’s Priory at Volmoed

We recently sent out our second newsletter to those on our email address list. You are welcome to sign up to receive future newsletters by email here. The text of the newsletter follows …

But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day.

2 Peter 3:8 (NRSV)

This is such wisdom from St Peter, and the words might have been written for us at St Benedict’s Priory as well. Who can believe that it is already a year since we arrived here at Volmoed? And looking back and reflecting on this year that was, it seems to me the things that make the day feel like a thousand years might threaten to outweigh the things that make a thousand years feel like a day.

Turning one…

During lockdown big celebrations are not in order. But we couldn’t turn one without something. So today at Eucharist we had a nice, small outdoor coffee time with some beautiful edible treats. Just about everyone from Volmoed was with us – so it was not a big group, but it is the people who have been part of our lives at Volmoed for the year.

It has been a fascinating year to say the least. We arrived on the last day of August, 2019, and began our worship life here the next day. There was a time of settling in. Then a time of reaching out to folks in the region. Then there should have been a time of ripening and growing in ministry, but COVID-19 had a different plan. Lockdown has now extended for about half our life at Volmoed.