An appeal has today been launched by a community of Benedictine nuns for funds to build a church at their new monastery in North Yorkshire.
The Community of Our Lady of Consolation is seeking to raise £2.4 million for Phase II of the development of the new Stanbrook Abbey, near Wass.
The nuns plan to build an abbey church with a sacristy and chapel for the Blessed Sacrament, four parlours, a guest wing and conference room at their new Modernist-style sustainable monastery in the North York Moors National Park.
The 21 nuns of the community moved to their new abbey from a Victorian building in Callow End, near Worcester, in 2009 because because the old building became too expensive and difficult to heat and maintain and because the new design better served the demands of the Benedictine charism, vocation and lifestyle.
It is also very much a 21st century building and the completion of Phase I – the main cloister, offices, kitchen, refectory and a guest room - attracted headlines in some national newspapers because of its advanced ecological features.
The distinguished actress Patricia Routledge CBE, who played Dame Laurentia McLachlan, a former Abbess of Stanbrook, in a 2006 performance of The Best of Friends, has agreed to be a patron of the Phase II appeal (see notes below for details of audio and print interviews). The other patrons are the Most Rev Arthur Roche, the Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Leeds, and the Rt Rev. Terence Drainey, the Bishop of Middlesbrough.
Dame Andrea Savage, the Mother Abbess of Stanbrook Abbey, said: “Living in the heart of Yorkshire, rich in monastic history, the Stanbrook community looks to renew the footprint of our great Benedictine heritage in the 21st century for women. Our new monastery overlooks the ruins of Byland Abbey with Rievaulx Abbey four miles to the north of our home. The community’s main work is prayer. We want to share our life of prayer. In order to do this we need to build our abbey church – please can you help?”
Archbishop Roche said: “The people of Yorkshire are very proud to see the Benedictine Sisters establish a monastery in their midst. The act of faith that led them to build a monastery in Yorkshire, where before the Reformation there were more monasteries per square mile than anywhere else in Christendom, deserves a generous response from us as they endeavour to complete the buildings which are so important to the living out of their life of faith and their monastic vocation”
Bishop Drainey said: “What the sisters bring to our area, to our local Church can never be measured in financial terms. They provide a power house of spiritual riches for all to share. I encourage all who can to support this appeal which in the end will profit us all.”
Patricia Routledge said: “I know these are difficult times for all of us but I do believe the wonderful Stanbrook Community is very deserving of support. I hope that people may be able to find as much as they can manage towards funding the completion of their monastery.”
Donations to the appeal can be made by visiting the Stanbrook Abbey website at http://www.stanbrookabbey.org.uk/