Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Happy 100th Birthday Mount Saint Benedict Abbey

This year the Abbey of Mount Saint benedict in Trinidad will celebrate 100 years of existance. Here is a little history of the Abbey from their website:

Dom Mayeul de Caigny, Abbot of the Abbey of San Sebastian, Bahia, Brazil, founded the Abbey of Our Lady of Exile in 1912. Abbot Mayeul had written to the Archbishop of Port of Spain, Trinidad, in October 1911, asking permission to send some of his monks to the Island, as he stated that there was the threat of religious persecution in Brazil. The Archbishop extended an invitation for him to come and choose a suitable locality for his monks. The Abbot chose his site on January 17, 1912, and on October 06 of the same year three of his monks arrived in Trinidad to establish monastic life there. The monastery was dedicated to Our Blessed Mother under the title of Our Lady of Exile, as this story recalled the experience of the monks who, like Mary, were also fleeing the threat of persecution. The beginnings were of a very humble nature. From 1914 Abbot Mayeul supervised the development of the Monastery until he resigned in 1923 and retired to the Abbey of Saint Leo in Florida, USA, where he is buried today. Mount St. Benedict, as it is more popularly known, was granted canonical status as a Conventual Priory on March 06, 1915. Dom Mayeul was succeeded by Dom Hugh van der Sanden, a Dutchman, who encouraged local vocations. During his term the Monastery was affiliated to the Belgian Congregation (Congregation of the Annunciation) in 1927. It was also under his tenure that the Monastery began a seminary in 1943 to prepare young men for the diocesan priesthood. In that same year the Monastery established a Secondary School. Dom Hugh was Superior until 1947, when the Monastery was raised to the rank of an Abbey, and Dom Adelbert van Duin was elected as the first Abbot. Dom Bernard Vlaar, another Dutchman, succeeded him. Dom Hildebrand Greene from Guyana was elected the First Caribbean Abbot of the Monastery in 1979, and he was instrumental in establishing a monastic daughter house in Guyana in 1988. In 1995, with the election of Dom Francis Alleyne, Mount St. Benedict had its first Trinidad born Abbot. In 2003 he was appointed Bishop of Guyana and was replaced by Dom John Pereira. The major ministry of the monks has been spiritual direction and pastoral counselling to the pilgrims who visit the Abbey on a daily basis. Hospitality is extended to all, and people of all faiths: Christians, Hindus and Muslims, and people who profess no faith are all received at the Abbey. In 1967, a Vocational School was established at the Monastery to teach young people a skill such as woodwork, bookbinding, plumbing, welding or some other technical craft to gear them for life. The Monastery has been involved in parochial activity, Pastoral Counselling, Agriculture, Apiculture, Education, Credit Unions, Coaching of young swimmers, Liturgical Renewal, Retreats, and Cottage Industries, such as Yogurt production. “Pax Yogurt” has become very popular in recent years, and this has replaced our former honey production. There are plans to expand this even further. In order to mark the ninetieth anniversary of the Abbey, the monks produced a CD. It consists of some of the compositions of Bro. Paschal Jordan, who is the Superior of the monastic foundation in Guyana.

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