Brother Gregory last week visited the Priory of St Norbert in Mananthavady in India. “A very exotic holiday for a Religious,” I hear you say, but he actually went to participate in the latest meeting of the juniors of the Order, so it wasn’t really a holiday, although it was quite exotic.
Mananthavady is in Kerala, the south-west part of India, which has historic Catholic roots, thanks to the evangelisation of St Thomas the Apostle. Many Keralites are also Syriac Rite, rather than Latin Rite, and we were able to experience the Syriac liturgy in all its richness during our visit.
Junior meetings happen every 6 years (in between General Chapters), and began in the 70s as a way to allow the young people of the Order to fraternise with one another. Because our Order is very decentralised, unless a brother has a top job, or is sent as a delegate to the General Chapter, it is rare that Norbertines really get to meet each other in big numbers.
There were about 20 juniors from Europe and America, and 30 from India, and Father Abbot General presided over the gathering, alongside the Prelate of Mananthavady.
Here are some introductory pictures. I’ll write a couple of posts on this subject, so do not fear: expect more photographs and videos!
We were also fortunate enough to be able to visit the tea factory, where the leaves are processed and powdered. Although I’m not a fan of the decadent teabag fashion, I appreciated seeing how it all happened. The smell in the factory was the smell one gets when opening a new packet of tea: rich, malty and dusty.