Rorate Caeli

Building Tasmania’s First Benedictine Monastery

Our friends, the traditional Benedictines of Notre Dame Priory on the island of Tasmania, asked us to share this information with Rorate readers.

It's been four years since Tasmania’s first Benedictine Monastery was founded. In that space of time, much has been done, but there remains much to do. After living in two rented houses, the community, which counts six members, has found a permanent home on a vast sheep-grazing farm called Jerusalem Estate near Colebrook, in the Southern Midlands Region of the island of Tasmania, one of Australian's seven states. The farm was purchased thanks to loans received from the Catholic Development Fund of Tasmania and a number of private lenders. At this stage the monks are working hard towards paying off the mortgage which will then allow them to start work on a beautiful monastery for the glory of God and the honor of Our Lady, a project which they hope will become an architectural project of international interest. 

In many respects, Tasmania resembles the French region of Burgundy where the founder, Dom Pius Mary Noonan, spent 32 years of his life as a monk at the Abbey of St Joseph in Flavigny-sur-Ozerain. The “Burgundy of the antipodes,” as Tasmania has been called, is an ideal location for a Benedictine Monastery, with its rolling hills, herds of sheep and vineyards.

The monks follow the traditional Benedictine Office and offer Holy Mass according the traditional Roman Rite. The Office and Mass are chanted daily in Gregorian chant. In addition to Dom Pius, there are five monks in simple vows. Two of them are lay brothers, which means they devote more time to manual tasks and developing practical trades and skills. They have been very busy since their entry in helping set up the community’s provisional living quarters and weatherboard church on the land they have purchased. The other monks have commenced an academic program in philosophy and theology which will, please God, lead them to ordination as priests. 

The community, like that of Flavigny, offers silent, guided retreats following the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius at the monastery in Colebrook, but also in a number of locations around Australia and in the USA. In these early stages of the foundation, the monks have their hands full, and they need all the help they can get. Their temporary setup lies very close to a major road, and they look forward to starting construction of a traditional style monastery on one of the remote beautiful hills of their amazing property. A short video:

If you would like to help the monks get established, please visit their website, which explains more about the property and their current needs. The monks produce a monthly spiritual newsletter available free of charge (subscribe here).

Recent photos . . .

An aerial overview of the property; green = portion paid off

The Immaculate Conception Church, nearly ready for use

Work on the Church . . .

. . . which is now nearly ready to be furnished.

A brother at Matins in the temporary chapel

The monastic library

Pouring footings for monastic cells

Building a monastic cell

The cells well under way

On a recent outing

A friendly neighbour