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Merthyr mission for Holywell monks

Four young monks from the monastic community in Abergavenny spent a week in Merthyr last week to share the power of prayer ...

Four young monks from the monastic community in Abergavenny spent a week in Merthyr last week to share the power of prayer.

They are members of the Holywell Community which started two years ago as a modern twist on the ancient monastic way of life – lay people living by the spirit of the Benedictine monks who were based at St Mary’s Priory in Abergavenny 500 years ago.

During the week, the young monks have been holding regular prayer sessions throughout the day, from morning prayer to compline, for anyone to join in. They have also been running a range of activities such as pray walks, dramatized Gospel readings, Bingo and natter, cafe church, film night and talks at the parish’s four churches – St David’s, St Tydfil’s, the Quar and SS Peter and Paul, Abercanaid.

The four monks, who wear distinctive long black cloaks over their sweatshirt and jeans, are led by a prior, Canon Mark Soady, who is also Area Dean of Abergavenny.

He says, “The Benedictine community is steeped in prayer, which provides a good grounding in mission work to break out into the community. We were invited to Merthyr by the churches there and we’ve had a really good response from the parishioners, with 30-40 joining us for midday prayer.”

The mission has been an opportunity for the community to bond together and reconnect with one another, says Father Tom Bates, assistant curate at Merthyr, who invited the monks.

He says: “The Holywell Community is journeying alongside us, like Jesus journeyed alongside his followers. They’re here this week to help us reconnect with what is at our core, our worship, and how Christ wants us to be embodied as a church in this community.”

The Reverend Mark Prevett, priest-in-charge of the benefice of Merthyr Tydfil, St David and Abercanaid, says, “We are thrilled to be joined by this group of fantastic and enthusiastic young people. They bring a delightfully fresh perspective to our community.”

Judy Hopkins, a member of the Merthyr congregation, hopes that the youthful enthusiasm of the monks will encourage more young people to be involved with the church.

She says, “Just having the posters and the banners outside church shows that something’s going on in here, that we’re an active church. The young people bring a fantastic example of how we can build a relationship with God.”

The Holywell monks say the mission is benefiting their own prayer lives too, although for many of them it is a very new experience.

“It’s all about stepping out of our comfort zones,” says Amy Pope, who has been involved with the community since its foundation. “It’s good for us to have our eyes opened – even 20 miles down the road there can be a completely different culture. But your ministry can be anywhere – Christ is still at the centre.”

More about the Holywell Community. You can also follow their mission on Twitter

PHOTOS: The monks are pictured top (from left): Amy Pope, Adrian Price, Michael Topple and Samuel Patterson; and above with parishioners on a prayer walk.



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