23 Jul The Priory at the End of the Earth
Stunningly beautiful landscape. Sparsely populated. And way off the beaten path.
Tasmania is the island state off the south eastern coast of Australia. It is about two thirds the size of Ireland but, unlike the Emerald Isle, it has never seen a male Benedictine Monastery on its shores — until now.
REGINA sat down with their Prior, Father Pius Mary Noonan, OSB, to discuss this exciting new venture.
REGINA: Interesting. So, no male monastic presence here, ever?
PRIOR: Never. For the first time in history, a group of monks is putting down roots in this gorgeous island — a growing tourist destination, and now also a spiritual one.
REGINA: What is that?
PRIOR: Notre Dame Priory is a young Benedictine Monastic community in the archdiocese of Hobart, Tasmania.
REGINA: And what will the Monastery be doing?
PRIOR: Our vocation is to pray–offering the solemn celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the Divine Office seven times a day and once in the night–to the Divine Majesty as an homage of the praise and worship due to Him, and for the salvation of souls, offering atonement for the sins of the world.
REGINA: ‘Ora et Labora’ was St Benedict’s famous motto. What work do you do?
PRIOR: Our contemplative life involves various forms of work to support ourselves, but in these early stages the formation of our young monks is the priority. An important part of our vocation is also to share with people the riches of our contemplative life through our retreats. In 2019, we plan to start offering them in the USA.
REGINA: You will bring some of the peace and calm of Tasmania with you to America, then?
PRIOR: Yes, but this is nothing new for Benedictines. It is our wish to continue today the task that Divine Providence gave to Benedictine monasteries at another critical period in history which bears much resemblance to our own. In the words of Pope Pius XII: “It can be asserted that the Benedictine Institute and its flourishing monasteries were raised up not without divine guidance and assistance, in order that, while the Roman Empire was tottering, and barbarous tribes goaded by warlike fury were attacking on all sides, Christian civilization might make good its losses and after civilizing nations by the truth and charity of the Gospels would lead them skillfully and tirelessly to fraternal harmony, fruitful labor and to a virtuous life ruled by the precepts of Our Redeemer and guided by His grace.” (Encyclical Fulgens Radiatur on St Benedict)
REGINA: You are a very new community, with young vocations.
PRIOR: Yes. The community counts eleven members at the moment, ten of whom are novices or postulants. They are under my guidance; I am an American monk who spent over 30 years in the Benedictine Abbey at Flavigny, France.
REGINA: Where will you live?
PRIOR: Just recently we launched a ‘homemade’ funding drive in order to purchase a property which was once called Jerusalem Estate and, if we are successful in completing the purchase, would be so named again. Details are here: https://www.notredamemonastery.org/jerusalem-estate/
REGINA: If readers want to contact you for any reason – to schedule a retreat, or a visit, or to ask for prayers – how do they do this?