Our Holy Father Norbert
Norbertines of St Philip’s Priory, Chelmsford
"Live together in harmony, and be of one mind and one heart on the way to God" (Rule 1.2)
The Canons Regular of Prémontré were founded by St. Norbert at Prémontré, France on Christmas Day, 1120.
By God's grace, we live the canonical life based upon the ancient Rule of St Augustine (written around 400). At the heart of our way of life is a devotion to prayer and contemplation, which nourishes our various apostolic works in the world. There are five pillars to our Norbertine way of life that our holy father Norbert bequeathed to us:
- The praise of Almighty God in the sacred liturgy
- A zeal for souls
- A life of penance
- Devotion to the Blessed Sacrament
- Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, especially her Immaculate Conception
The Order arrived in England in 1138, until the suppression of the monasteries in the Reformation. By then, there were 38 houses (both male and female) in the British Isles. Expelled from these islands for over three centuries, we returned in 1872 and founded several missions.
Our own canonry became independent in 2004, and we established our home in Chelmsford in 2006.
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Prayer for vocations to our Order
Almighty Father, raise up abundant and holy vocations to the Order of Prémontré.
Send us good and holy souls who will keep the Faith alive and guard the blessed memory of Our Holy Fathers Augustine and Norbert.
Send us ardent yet gentle men who through the preaching of Christ’s word and the administration of the Sacraments may continually renew your faithful.
Grant us holy ministers of your altar who will be careful and fervent guardians of the Eucharist; lifting high the Blessed Sacrament above all the errors and miseries of the world. Amen.
Today, our Sub-Prior and Novice Master, Fr Stephen, took our Novice, Br Gildas, to visit the ancient church of St Michael and All Saints, Copford. This hidden gem in rural Essex is famous for its beautifully preserved 12th century murals, which were whitewashed during the Reformation and rediscovered in recent times. Our Order was founded in the 12th century, and many of these paintings date back to the very earliest years of foundations such as Beeleigh Abbey — a local Norbertine house suppressed under Henry VIII and of which our Prior, Abbot Hugh, is now the Titular Abbot.
Our Sub-Prior, Fr Stephen Morrison, celebrated the scheduled Old Rite Mass in our Priory Chapel on Sunday 13 November — the Feast of All the Saints of the Norbertine Order in the Traditional calendar.These photos were taken during and after the Mass.
St Norbert and All the Saints of our Order, pray for us.
This week, we were delighted to welcome the Abbot of Daylesford, the Rt Revd Richard Antonucci, o.praem. Abbot Richard stayed with us as part of a private visit he was making to the UK. The Norbertine Abbey of Daylesford is situated on the outskirts of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
On Friday, Abbot Richard was shown around London by our Sub-Prior and Novice Master, Fr Stephen Morrison o.praem. They were joined by our novice, Br Gildas. This photo shows Father Abbot with Fr Stephen at the tomb of Cardinal Manning in Westminster Cathedral. Cardinal Manning consecrated the Church of Our Lady Immaculate, Chelmsford, 150 years ago this year.
It is with great joy that we are able to announce that the Rt Revd Hugh Allan o.praem, Prior of our Norbertine Priory of Our Lady of Sorrows and St Philip Benizi, Chelmsford, has been appointed the Apostolic Administrator of the Prefecture of the Falkland Islands and Ecclesiastical Superior of the Mission sui iuris of the islands of St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, ad quinquennium (for a period of five years). He was appointed to this post by Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation of the Evangelisation of Peoples.
In recognition of this ecclesiastical appointment, Fr Hugh has also been elevated to the title of ‘Titular Abbot of Beeleigh’ by the Abbot General of the Norbertine Order, the Most Revd Thomas Handgrätinger o.praem. Abbot Hugh Allan will continue to head our community in Chelmsford whilst carrying out his new duties. He will also continue to serve as parish priest of the parishes of Our Lady Immaculate and The Holy Name, Chelmsford.
Falklands and the South Atlantic Mission
As the Apostolic Administrator of the Falklands and Superior of the self-governing Mission to the other UK Territories in the South Atlantic, Abbot Hugh replaces Monsignor Michael McPartland SMA, who has headed both the Prefecture and Mission since August 2002. Having reached the canonical age of retirement and having suffered from ill health, Mgr McPartland recently submitted his resignation so that a successor could be appointed.
Abbot Hugh will now have responsibility for the Catholic community on the Falkland Islands and the other territories, and will continue to support Fr John Wisdom o.praem, who ministers as a priest on the Falkland Islands, and who is a member of our Norbertine community. Fr John has been in Stanley since August 2015, during which time he has built good relations with the Islanders and with the military community at RAF Mount Pleasant on East Falkland.
Titular Abbot of Beeleigh
In response to his appointment as Apostolic Administrator and Superior of the sui iuris Mission, the Abbot General of the Norbertines has granted Hugh Allan the titular title of ‘Abbot of Beeleigh’. Beeleigh Abbey, a former Norbertine house, was founded in 1172 near Harlow, Essex, and moved to Beeleigh, in Maldon, Essex, in 1180. It was suppressed during the Dissolution of the Monasteries under Henry VIII. Geographically, it is the closest former Premonstratensian house to the Order’s current Priory in Chelmsford.
Since the Reformation, the Abbey has served as a private house, and the current owners, Christopher Folye (Folyes bookshops) and his wife Catherine, are friends of the Norbertines in Chelmsford. They have welcomed the Chelmsford community to their home and, on one such recent visit, the now Abbot Hugh celebrated Mass at the old Abbey.
Upon hearing of his appointment, Abbot Hugh said: “It is with profound trust in the loving mercy of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ that I prepare to take up my appointment as the Apostolic Administrator of the Falkland Island and Superior of the Mission sui juris of St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, in succession to the wonderful Monsignor Michael McPartland.
“The day after receiving my letter of appointment, I visited Mgr McPartland in the hospital and he gave me his blessing. He also wanted me to pass on his blessings and his love to the people of the South Atlantic. In November, I will make my first visit to the Ascension Island and then the Falkland Islands. In the New Year, I look forward to making my first visits to Tristan da Cunha and St Helena.”
Reacting to news of Abbot Hugh’s appointment, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster and President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, said: “We are grateful for the generosity of the Norbertine Community in Chelmsford, and especially Fr Allan who will be supporting Fr Wisdom on the Islands and the other missions in the South Atlantic. We are also indebted to the work that Monsignor McPartland has done over the past 14 years. Mgr McPartland has been in poor health for the past few months and we wish him well as the responsibility of the South Atlantic passes over to the Norbertines.”
Responding to the news that a churchman now holds the title of Abbot of Beeleigh for the first time since 1536, Christopher and Catherine Foyle, owners of Beeleigh Abbey, said: “We are delighted with the appointment and that Fr Hugh Allan is now the titular Abbot of Beeleigh!”
We wish Abbot Hugh every blessing in his new role! Ad multos annos!
On Thursday 20th October, a Mass of Thanksgiving for the 150th Anniversary of the consecration of the Church of Our Lady Immaculate, Chelmsford, was celebrated by Mgr Canon Kevin Hale, Vicar General of the Diocese of Brentwood. The sermon was preached by Fr Dominic Robinson, SJ, who is based at the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Farm Street. Both churches were designed by the same architect, Joseph John Scoles. At the end of the Mass, a congratulatory letter from Bishop Alan Williams was read out by Mgr Canon Hale, and Fr Hugh gave a brief address.
The parish of Our Lady Immaculate is one of two parishes that we serve here in Chelmsford, the other being The Holy Name. Photos: Sylvia Shepherd.
A Mass of Thanksgiving to mark the 150th Anniversary of the Consecration of the Church of Our Lady Immaculate, Chelmsford, will be celebrated by Mgr Canon Kevin Hale, Vicar General of the Diocese of Brentwood, at 7.30pm on Thursday 20th October. The sermon will be preached by Fr Dominic Robinson, SJ. Mass will be followed by refreshments in the parish hall. All welcome!