Br John-Aelred OSB

The first indications of a vocation began when I was just 8 or 9.  I grew up in South Wales and summer Holidays tended to be in those days either a camping or Caravan holiday somewhere that was not particularly far from home.  Many of those holidays were near Tenby, and always included a visit to the Romantic and Mysterious Caldey Island.  This was my first encounter with Monks, and they held a strange fascination for me.  In those days I didn’t know about its Anglican history and thought that Monks and Nuns were just something that was part of the Roman Catholic Church.

From about the ages of 13 I felt a call to the ordained ministry and so much of the focus of my Discernment was geared toward exploring that.   When I was 19 I went on a vocations Weekend which was held at Neale House, the Conference Centre run by the Sisters of Saint Margaret in East Grinstead alongside their Convent there.   It was hear that I first encountered Anglican Religious.  The Sisters became a very important part of my life (and still are) and were to form my spirituality  and my exploration of a vocation to Priesthood.  I became and Associate of the Society and was very much part of the Family of that Community for many years.  They helped me to understand a disciplined prayer life.  In time I was ordained and thought that God had done with me what he wanted.

Choir at our Mother House in Vermont – November 2018 Convocation

I have always had a love of liturgical Music and particularly in plainchant, after visiting many monasteries this led me to discover the Rule of S Benedict. This short document lays out the life of the Monk , and its balanced and kind approach inspires me every day.

I discovered my Community while searching the internet, looking and various different Benedictine Communities and found that various “new Monastic” communities were springing up.  Many of these Communites do not live in big Monasteries, but live out their lives in whatever situation you might find Yourself.

At first I thought, that these were not proper Communities,  these are just playing at it, but I soon discovered this is far from the truth.  I began to feel that God, was calling me to this way of life.  This was nothing new, but I had put aside the thoughts, I was a Parish Priest, could I give all that up?

Like any other form of Religious life, the formation is key, we spend 6 months to a year as a Postulant, looking at the rule and concentrating  our meditations on the Psalms.   Then 2 years of the Novitiate, 3 years of Simple Vows then Solemn Vows.   All through this time we Study and submit work to our Abbot or Formation Master or Mistress.

Each day we are committed to the recitation of the Divine Office and Lectio Divina (spiritual Reading) as well as private prayer.  Regularly we submit a timetable and report to the Abbot on how we are keeping to the Rule.  

Most of my Community is in the United States, but there are two of us in the UK with several enquirers. We have ordained Members as well as lay.  The community is also open to Married and Partnered people. Many people are longing a looking for a disciplined life, but perhaps could not join the more traditional communities, Maybe a Community like mine is for you?  We would never want to see our Traditional Religious Communites disappear, and we have the option in our Community to live as Cloistered Members in our Mother House in Vermont, but we offer a Different way of living out the Consecrated life.

Why did I choose this community? Well for one we have a building, a stable base, where i could live permanently of for varying degrees of time. Stability is one of the defining features of Benedictine Life.

If you would like to know more about our Community you can Contact me via email @. brjohnaelred@gmail.com  and do look at our website at www.houseofinitianova.org

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