Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Retreat in Pluscarden

I have just returned from a week in the most northerly Latin monastery in the world and it was wonderful. The weather was gentle, not too hot, not too cold and not too much rain. The travel was not so kind; I normally fly to Aberdeen and get the no. 10 to Elgin but the service has stopped calling at the airport between 8am and 6pm so I had to get a taxi to Dyce station, a train to Elgin and a taxi to the Abbey, and on the way back two buses took me to the airport. I will have to find alternative travel arrangements next year. I did some reading (see below) and some sleeping!

As you may all know Br Driostan Nunan died recently and the community was still in mourning while I was there so we prayed for the repose of his soul after every supper. There were two 1 month postulants there - please pray for their vocations. Fr Giles was there taking a break from his monastery in Ghana with undhaven hair and a long beard.

A family was also staying for a few days, Grandmother, parents and two children. The eldest child was a boy who I think will make a fine priest/monk one day. He bought himself a Latin/English Missal and spent the liturgies trying to teach himself Latin and asked his Mum at one point if they could pray the Benedictine Office at home from now on. He also bought himself the Catholic Truth Society's Simple Prayer Book and asked his Mum to help him learn the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and the Rosary. Please join me in praying for a religious vocation in him.

On the Feast of the Assumption Br Gregory, a former monk of Pluscarden, made his Solemn Vows at Parkminster Charterhouse at which Abbot Hugh was present. Please keep him in your prayers also.

This was my 7th visit in four years and I can't wait for my 8th!


Pastor in Valle said...

My goodness; I made my ordination retreat at Pluscarden in 1989, and actually haven't been back since, something I should remedy. I remember Br Drostan well, and also Fr Giles, though he didn't have long hair and beard then.

PeterHWright said...

Most northerly monastery !

What about Papa Stronsay ? That's a good few miles further north !

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post, and the travel tip! as God willing i will be going to Pluscarden (from Canada)for a 3 week vocations retreat on the 22nd of October, and have been trying to figure out the cheapest public transport from Glasgow!
Emile, from Vocation-Station

Orthfully Catholic said...


Indeed you are correct! At the time Pluscarden received this title the monks on Papa Stronsay either didn't exist (when were they founded?) or were not in Communion with Rome. I shall have to stop saying that to people when I speak about Pluscarden!

Thank you and God Bless!

PeterHWright said...

Oh well, even after Golgotha Monastery, Papa Stronsay, has been formally erected by Rome, Pluscarden Abbey will still be the most northerly Benedictine monastery !

I suppose St. Benedict's Abbey, Fort Augustus, once held this distinction, until Pluscarden was refounded (in 1948, I think ?) as a Priory by monks from Prinknash.

I can remember visiting Pluscarden when the choir was still unroofed. There was very little stained glass. The cloister had not yet been built. The accommodation for guests was rather pro tem. Fr. Giles was a very young Brother Giles, and as Fr. Sean mentions in his comment, most certainly without long hair and a beard !

But it was a lovely, peaceful place, even then.

In what year did the traditional Redemptorists establish themselves on Papa Stronsay ?
Gosh, I don't know !
I do know they established a presence in Sheppey, Kent, many years ago which would be the most easterly monastery in England, I suppose.

Now that they are reconciled to Rome, with their new name, they presumably will receive a formal decree of canonical erection from Rome sometime soon. In the meantime, their monastery seems to be thriving. (The last time I looked at their website, they were gathering the hay on their farm.)

Many thanks for the post. It's brought back old memories.