French Benedictine monks to establish community in Hobart

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Monks from the Abbey of St Joseph de Clairval, above, pose outside the main entrance of their monastic quarters.
Monks from the Abbey of St Joseph de Clairval, above, pose outside the main entrance of their monastic quarters.

A community of French Benedictine monks will establish a community of “traditional monastic observance” in the archdiocese of Hobart, in Tasmania.

The monks are from the Abbey of St Joseph de Clairval in Flavigny, France.

Fr Pius Mary Noonan OSB, who will leave the abbey of Flavigny to lead the establishment of the new foundation, announced the news in a letter distributed to friends of the community on 7 October.

“The community will not be officially established for a couple more months, but we have now reached the point where the news can be shared with our friends and benefactors,” he wrote.

“This is necessary so that you can pray for its success but also so that you can be aware of our need for support as we initiate this project. At this stage we have nothing except the good will of several candidates to the monastic life.”

Fr Pius said the decision came after a long period of discernment and “lengthy negotiations” with abbey authorities in Flavigny and local church authorities in Australia.

“By the grace of God and the maternal intercession of Our Lady of Cana, to whom the priory will be dedicated, it is our great hope that a Benedictine monastery, celebrating the traditional Roman monastic liturgy and providing retreats in the tradition of the Flavigny monks, will soon be a living reality on Australian soil,” Fr Pius wrote. For this to happen, Fr Pius asked for prayers and secondly, financial contributions.

“We are starting literally from zero, and need to cover basic expenses of establishment, including construction, purchase of land, and operational expenses,” he wrote.

“We are relying entirely on Our Lord moving in the hearts of prospective benefactors to give generously, especially at this important beginning.”

Flavigny was the seat of a Benedictine abbey from the 7th Century until the French revolution. The current Abbey was founded in Switzerland in 1976, and there are currently about 50 monks in the community.

While they live according to the ancient Rule of St Benedict, the Flavigny monks are also known for organising and hosting numerous retreats following the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuits.

While most of these take place in France, the monks regularly host retreats in English-speaking countries, including Australia.

Their most recent trip to Australia took place in December 2015, when they hosted two five-day retreats in Bowral.

Donations for the new foundation in Tasmania can be made to the following bank account: Account Name: Notre Dame Priory; Account Number: 10242562; BSB: 062654. Cheques, made payable to ‘Notre Dame Priory’ can be sent to: Notre Dame Priory, C/- PO Box 450, Picton, NSW, 2571.