I headed off bright and early this morning to drive the 150 km south to Colebrook, arriving at 9:45 am. Gradually more and more familiar faces arrived. For we were all assembled with our Archbishop, well over a hundred laity and clergy together, to celebrate the foundation today of Notre Dame Priory at St Patrick’s, a beautiful Pugin-designed church that has waited 160 years for this great day, when, as we all remarked afterward, it was finally used for what it was built for: the full traditional liturgy of Solemn High Mass coram archiepiscopo in the late morning and Solemn Vespers mid-afternoon. The servers were the five young men who are the first candidates for the monastic life to arrive and begin the foundation, for the present in temporary accommodation in Lindisfarne; more will arrive in due course.
The Mass Propers of the Chair of St Peter were expertly sung by Ronan and friends, as was the Ordinary of the Mass (Mass IV and the little-used Credo V), all sensitively accompanied by Stephen Smith on the church’s recently-installed organ. His Grace preached, and, the sacred mysteries consummated and received, Fr Prior gave a speech of thanks after the Last Gospel, before a final Sub tuum at the Lady Altar together with prayer to St Joseph and invocations of St Mary of the Cross, secondary patroness of the new monastery, and of St Patrick, titular of the church. The morning liturgy lasted an hour and forty minutes all told.
We decamped to the Colebrook Hall for luncheon, where all and sundry had a great time catching up, toasting the foundation and delighting in such a joyful day. Afterwards, I had time to stroll around the little township before returning to church for Solemn Vespers (again expertly sung, lasting about 35 minutes) followed by Benediction (at exposition, Jesu dulcis memoria, then silent adoration, the usual Tantum ergo &c. before the blessing, the Divine Praises afterward, and at reposition the Benedictine Te decet laus), concluding at 5:30 pm.
After final farewells, I set off for home at six o’clock, and got back by eight. A wonderful day!