About us.

We are an enclosed community of Roman Catholic women following the Rule of St Benedict. We are members of the English Benedictine Congregation ( see link) which also includes houses of monks and two other houses of enclosed nuns.

We are situated in a village just outside Stafford in England and less than 20 miles from Birmingham. There is a good bus link to us from Stafford and good rail links to London, Birmingham and onwards.

The area is very beautiful, within a 10 minute walk you will find a canal with a good walk beside it – you can walk to the local stately home of Shugborough Hall, there are canal boats and a canal side cafe. The river is just beyond this, there is woodland with marked walks and the villages themselves ( which almost link with each other) make the whole area very peaceful. From our enclosure we have good views of the local hills, whilst within our enclosure we have small areas of woodland, a pond, lawns, fruit and vegetable areas.

Currently there are 7 of us living here and one sister living away:- we have 8 solemn professed sisters.

International discerners are very welcome subject to visa requirements, just contact us and take it from there.

 Joining Us.

Enquirer – you are welcome to contact us via email – novblog@googlemail.com or by post, (SEE CONTACT US).  Tell us a little about yourself, ask questions and arrange a visit. At least one visit is usually needed before Aspirancy/live- in can be considered. However those travelling from abroad may be able to live-in immediately after some contact by email or post and a few days in the guest wing.

Aspirancy– come and share our life and get a greater insight –  this usually lasts between one and three weeks. Again, those travelling from further away may live-in for a longer period of time. Towards the end of your aspirancy, application may be made to enter the community.

Postulancy – this begins with a short, beautiful ceremony where you first knock on the enclosure door requesting entry, briefly visit Chapel and are welcomed by the community in the Chapter Room. This lasts for 6 months ( with possible extension to one year) and you will wear simple, neat secular clothes.

Novitiate – this lasts for two years and begins with the Clothing ceremony where the Benedictine habit and white veil are recieved along with a new name ( this is optional). It is a time of growing deeper into the community life and closer to God. The first year we keep as our Canonical year.

Simple Profession – the white novices veil is exchanged for the black veil of the professed and vows are taken for three years.

Solemn Monastic Profession – the sister recieves a wedding band worn on the right hand, a cowl – the main symbol of solemn profession- and makes her vows for life. 

Requirements for entry.

We accept – single Roman Catholic  women or those with an annulment, age 21 upwards ( exceptions may be made) – we have no upper age limit.

                    you must be free of debt  and have no dependants.

                    you must be healthy in mind and body – our congregation will not allow us to accept those with severe  mental illness or with debilitating physical problems.

A medical, references and baptism/confirmation or reception ( for converts) certificates or letters are required prior to entry.

Formation – in our community there is structure with the formation program but it varies with the individual person as what is studied alongside the Holy Rule which has to be studied at least 3 times during the course of the Novitiate, there are classes with the novice mistress twice a day. The Noviceship are encouraged to read widely, especially on Benedictine Spirituality and other monastic life, and the vows are studied intensely with the novice mistress through the two and a half years and the Rule is read out to us daily in refectory. We have novitiate choir practice as we need it usually concentrating on learning to sing the Latin we use at Vespers and preparing for Saints days and Feasts.

Various sisters may be appointed to assist the Novice Mistress in giving instructions especially in the Catechism or the History of our congregation and House. We have a good library and sisters are encouraged to read widely and may bring things up for discussion at class times and arrange to see the novice mistress on an individual basis as needed. At times we listen to a tape of spiritual direction given by someone such as FR Michael Casey. Correspondence courses may be taken after clothing as a novice – we are near to Maryvale Institute – see post – which is an excellent Catholic education centre.

As a contemplative community formation is mainly through living this life and recommitting to it each day, growing with each other, learning to accept and love the different aspects of each other and trying to see one another as Christ.

We keep complete silence at night and during the day only speak when necessary, at recreation and at noviceship classes. When someone comes to visit we do spend more time talking to them though as things need to be explained and shown, also you are encouraged to ask questions – we know it is all confusing to start and you will feel lost at times – this is understandable and isn’t breaking silence in the same way that chatting all over the house would be.

We usually work alone but may walk with others in recreation time, on Sundays and recreation days. Lectio is done alone in a place of choice; half hour private prayer is done is chapel – this is not communal, sisters may find a time and space there to be alone. Extra prayer may done anywhere.

Timetable – our life revolves around the Mass and Divine Office with choir practice, recreation and some conferences. Other than this sisters – including postulants and novices – put in their own prayer/work/study and relaxation times ( with advice, help and guidance from the novice mistress)  so sisters may be busy at times and have more space at other times – it’s up to them to find a balance remembering our committment to lectio, study and prayer as well as work. We do not have chapter of faults, use the discipline or lots of penitential practices. Penitence can come in the ordinary things of the day and we can all be a point of penance for each other at times – living together is not easy but it is rewarding and if we are called to this life it is a way of coming closer to Him.

It does vary on some days – on Sundays our prayer times are sligtly different, we have longer recreation and we do only necessary work such as cooking. We sometimes watch a video in the afternoon together and generally take more time to relax and pray.

On Thursdays we have exposition of the Blessed Sacrament for the day,we each have at least one period of adoration,try to spend more time in solitary prayer in chapel  and have Benediction.We also have an early night – this means Compline at 6 followed by supper and bed.

We also have Exposition and Benediction on 1st Fridays, 3rd Sundays and major solemnities, we also include a day each year set aside to have for praying for vocations to the Priesthood and the Religious Life.

Sisters are free to explore and try ways of being creative such as gardening, making preserves or cards, learning to play and instrument or do calligraphy.

Life here is simple and rhythmic. As we are rural we live close to the land and often change our work around according to the weather eg; i will quite often work in the garden on a good day and catch up on a rainy day. We also follow the liturgical seasons with their changing emphasis, colours and beauty and mark the seasons of our lives with special days of celebration of entrance, clothing and professions.

At Christmas we have a two week ‘holiday’, where we are free to talk, spend time with each other, do only essential work and have lots of time together. Sisters may put on a show, a panto, do treasure hunts, arrange special teas and generally try to have fun – we are after all celebrating our Saviours birth. It is a relief to get back to normal – blessed silence and simpler food! – after the holiday is over though.

    I hope that helps, if there is anything else you want to know, please ask here or in the question and answer section. Pax.

      

              

                                                                                              

19 thoughts on “About us.”

  1. Just the information I was looking for thankyou

  2. Anna Mogensen said:

    Hi,
    I am a Danish scolar who is currently researching on the new phenomenon of blogging.
    Would it be ok if I phone you in order to ask a fwe questions on your blog; i.e. how you got the idea, if you saw a specific need etc.
    It would be so interesting talking to you so I sincerely hope it is possible.
    Which phone number do you have? 🙂
    Best regards,
    Anna Mogensen

  3. Hi Anna, thanks for asking but we can only take phone calls from family whilst we are in the noviceship. We are interested in answering your questions if we can so you can either post them here and we will reply or we can contact you by email to answer them.
    This blog was started by an aspirant we had who suggested it – we didn’t even know what a blog was then. We thought about it and asked permission then went ahead.
    We did this because we had noticed in our own searching that it was sometimes difficult to find information about communiites and yet there seems to be a lot of people out there discerning, so maybe we could help a little by giving a a glimpse of our life.
    You can see that we do only give a glimpse. We are an enclosed contemplative community and we are living this life fully so we don’t have too much time to give to the blog,which is why it isn’t updated too often and it takes time for us to answer questions. We don’t have a lot of free time to give to it really but it is important to us.
    Our blog is meant to be lighthearted and we are obviously not professionals, we share our difficulties with it. One of our sisters likes it because it is so ‘amateur’ and we are happy about that. There are more informative sites including our own main one, we are just an open door for people to ask a few questions and make comments/
    We like the comments and would like to interact more – as time allows of course. We have not yet said much about ourselves – this is because this is new for our community and we are trying to be sensitive to them and to family and friends. We are also a bit shy, a vocation is very special and personal and it is not so easy to explain. We will be putting more on though.
    We hope this helps a little,please do contact us again,
    with best wishes and prayer, Sr Mary Magdalen and Adele.

  4. Marieteresa said:

    hi again, does you community have extern sisters? If so how many? If not would your community consider having them? or rather if someone entered with and wanted to become an extern would this be welcomed?

  5. Hi Marieteresa, our community doesn’t have extern sisters but we have had Regular Oblate Sisters who are very similar. We don’t have any at the moment but our constitutions do allow for them so if someone was interested it could be explored.
    It would be best to write to our novice mistress and take it from there (address above) if you think you are interested. Regular oblates live in the enclosure, go through full formation, and wear the full habit but take promises instead of vows so don’t have voting rights in Chapter (as they are not solemn professed) – they also keep a different degree of enclosure – it sounds very like extern sisters from what i know of them. I don’t think anyone who has entered has become a Regular Oblate but some who start this way later make solemn profession and live a more enclosed life – this can happen because the formation is exactly the same.
    I hope that helps, Pax Sr Marie-Therese.

  6. Marieteresa, hi again, i deleted your last comment by mistake – my hand slipped off the mouse mat. Your email didn’t get through on the yahoo address which is why you didn’t get a reply – incase anyone is wondering – we always reply to emails if we get them.
    However your email did get through on novblog so i passed it on to Mother – i think she has just written to you, let us know if you don’t get it please. It seems that there have been some problems with our service provider as other emails have not reached us either.

    Mother Abbess has offerrred her email address, this is – gertmary@googlemail.com – Mother Abbess and Mother Anne can be contacted through this address. I hope this helps and wish you many blessings in your discernment. Pax sr marie-therese.

  7. Can I draw your attention to the new website of the publishers, The Catholic Truth Society (CTS).

    http://www.cts-online.org.uk

    It’s got some downloadable publications on it, plus it’s got a great range of Catholic books, DVDs and other things.

    We’d appreciate if you could review it in your blog.

    Thanks, Sophie (CTS)

  8. Kathryn said:

    Dear Sr. Marie-Therese;
    Thank you for your diligent work keeping up with your blog, and your openness in doing it. It gives me and others such a unique opportunity to learn more about monastic life as it is being lived out; quite a generous offering if you ask me.

    I have a few questions:

    Do you pray a “vigils” office? I am used to practice of having the Office of Vigils first thing in the morning, or in the middle of the night, or the eve before if anticipated.

    Do you, does the community pray the Office of Readings at all?

    What does “space” (listed for 8am above) mean? What does “drink” mean (listed for 9:15am above)?

    Thank you very much!,
    Kathryn

  9. Sophie – thanks, I will remember to write a post about your site, we do sell CTS publications in our parlour and are very impressed with them, the site is great, thanks for bringing our attention to it.

  10. Thankyou Kathryn, what nice things you say, it’s encouraging for me too.
    We don’t pray Vigils – our congregation used to say Matins in the night or in the early morning but some years ago Matins and Lauds were combined to form a longer Morning Office – I think it fitted in better with the general pattern of life for someof the communities of our congregation. We still keep Morning Office at the moment ( it could change though) but some communities have once again seperated the offices. Our Midday Office is also longer – half hour – as it is Terce, Sext and None combined. With all of these we do say the whole Psalter every week and we say the Angelus at 6, 12 and 6.

    The office of Readings was an early morning office – matins time – so no we don’t – and i don’t think we ever have- said this one.

    ‘Space’ – yes I thought this bit might be confusing but I just did’nt know what to write there. You see there is roughly half hour gap between the end of Morning Office and Mass and there are no set things to do then. Sisters singing the Mass psalm ( two present the antiphon and sing the psalm whilst standing in the centre of choir) have a short practice; some go for a walk; some tidy cells; I start the laundry. Everyone seems to find some way of using this time but it’s not long enough for Lectio so it is adaptable.

    Drink – we can have breakfast either before or after Mass, if we have it before we can go back and have a hot drink in the refectory before we start work.
    With many things like space and drink times are approximate too – offices, recreation, conferences, Mass have set times though. Just recently we have changed the times of our novitiate classes to 11am and 5pm so that we have longer blocks of time and can go out into the garden to work and we have another priest staying with us who says his own Mass at 5.30 which it is optional for us to go to.
    I hope that helps, keep blogging with us. pax.

  11. Hi Sister, you might want to edit the first email address (add an “l” at the end for “googlemail”) – some people might not notice it and try to send their mail to the wrong address!

  12. Thanks VA for letting me know about the missing letter, have sorted it, pax

  13. Dear Sr. Marie-Therese,

    Thanks for updating the “About Us” section, it was wonderful! Your life seem so filled with God! As goos as your post on the main page and this update here, I am now even more desperate to visit! You are and your blog is a regular “vocation catcher”! Your so good at it, your fishing lure and line stretches across the pond to the US!

    Speaking of pictures, I have a few of you and one of Mother Abbess that a friend Deborah took earlier this year – January maybe? – after your clothing. She was in the UK visiting a friend who was clothed at a Carmel the same day you were. As she knew I was discerning with you all, she sent me them. If you like, I can email them to Mother Anne if you want to see them or put them in your photo album. They are very nice. Just let me know.

    Mary

    P.S. Deborah entered a cloistered Visitation Monastery this past May.

  14. Hi Mary, I remember Deborah very well, she visited a week after my Clothing and we got lots of time to chat which I enjoyed very much. She did tell me that she was entering at Tyringham in the coming months and gave me the web address – so I have been checking it out now and then to see if she is mentioned. If you are in touch with her please give her my best wishes and prayers. Annie and I also sent some messages to each other as our convents are very near to each other – and I do check phatmass to see what she is up to too. I think it’s good to make contacts and links across the globe and pray for each other – it’s one of the great things about the internet actually.
    I’d love to see the pictures she took, you can email them to the novblog address instead of mothers if you would as I would then get to see them more easily, thankyou for offerring.
    Thanks too for the nice things you write to me here, it does give me a boost, and in God’s time hopefully we will get to meet too. peace and blessings, sr marie therese.

  15. I just wanted to let you know that I have added quite a few new Catholic books to our web site recently:

    http://www.antiquemallbooks.com/cgi-bin/cdbooks/results.html?searchfield=keywords&searchspec1=Books%20Religion%20%26%20Spirituality%20Catholic

    Many are on St. Benedict and Monasticism. Most of our books are out-of-print and of the hard-to-find variety. At any rate, I thought I would pass along our web site again since you seemed to enjoy our selection last year.

    God bless you!

    Peter

  16. Marianne said:

    Hi,

    I am trying to get in touch with your guest mistress or prioress. I am a consecrated virgin – living in Denmark and am again afer 20 years seeking contcat with a benedictine community to sepnd quiet days and yearly retreats. I used to have abenedictine director in my years of fomation. I have been solmn consecrated for 17 years now and been living an active life. It is necessary when I have no community and need to earn my living. Now I am retired and live a contemplative life in the world but are now seeking contact with the Benedictines again. I used to live in England and had contact with Stanbrook but they are moving. Hope you can pass my mail on

    Marianne Groesmeyer, ocv

    • Hi Marianne, Yes you could email both of us at novblo@googlemail.com
      i am the guest mistress also. Did you want us to get in touch with stanbrook or did you just want to get in touch with us we couldn’t make it out?
      Hear from you soon
      god bless
      sr. davina
      x

  17. Hi Sr. Davina

    I always wondered about the route of entry so this was an interesting insight.

    Just two question though. What sort of references do you need & accept and whats involved with the medical. That sounds a bit daunting

    Pax

    • Hi Leigh,
      At last i can reply quickly, well references are: your parish priest and someone else who has known you for a while, maybe your employer, you also need to supply baptismal and confirmation certificates for entrance into religious life. The medical is up to your local GP – a full medical is required.

      Hope this answers the questions ok
      Sr. d

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