“ I have never before, in my long and eclectic career, been gifted with such an abundance of natural beauty as I experienced filming War Horse on Dartmoor.” Steven Spielberg.

Global gathering at Buckfast Abbey celebrates rare ordination of new priests

Monks and priests from around the world gathered at Devon’s Buckfast Abbey last month to celebrate the rare ordination of two monks, Dom Andrew Prickett and Dom John George, to the priesthood. 

Typically taking five years to complete, the formation for the Roman Catholic priesthood is a unique and increasingly uncommon event in the UK. It not only requires many years of study in philosophy and theology, but also a deepening of discipleship and personal holiness. 

The last such ordination ceremony took place at Buckfast Abbey nearly three decades ago in 1995. The Abbey was therefore doubly blessed when the two monks completed their journeys, becoming priests at the Abbey on Friday 16th September. 

Dom Andrew Prickett of the Buckfast Community, and Dom John George of the Community of St Gregory the Great, which relocated to Buckfast from Downside in Somerset earlier this year, were ordained priests in an Ordination Mass celebrated by Archbishop George Stack. 

The Rite of Ordination to the Priesthood, a ceremony that carries centuries of sacred tradition, witnessed both men make their solemn vows before the Archbishop, prostrating themselves before the Altar in an act which demonstrates death to self and rebirth into priestly service. 

More than 200 guests travelled to attend the rare event, including fellow priests and monks from Abbeys across the globe, including: Subiaco Abbey in Arkansas, USA; St Meinrad Abbey in Indiana, USA; a Benedictine Abbey in Tanzania, Africa; Glenstal Abbey in Murroe, Ireland; Douai Abbey in Reading, UK; Belmont Abbey in Herefordshire, UK; and Ampleforth Abbey in York, UK.

The monastic communities of the two priests and their superiors, Abbot David Charlesworth and Abbot Nicholas Wetz, were present, alongside friends and relatives from Manchester, Malvern, London, and members of the Buckfast Abbey and Downside congregations. 

Commenting on the ordination, Abbot Nicholas Wetz of St Gregory the Great said: “The ordination of both these men celebrated the culmination of what has been many years of study and selfless service. Having started his formation at the Pontifical University of Sant Anselmo in Rome, we wish Fr John every blessing as he returns to study for a licence in monastic studies.”

Abbot David Charlesworth of Buckfast Abbey, commented: “Following several years of service as a monk in the Buckfast community, and his formation to the priesthood at Blackfriars, Oxford, we are pleased that Fr Andrew will remain at Buckfast Abbey, undertaking priestly duties for the benefit of our community. 

“We rejoice that these two men have chosen to make this commitment to the pastoral mission, and we wish them a long and fruitful ministry.” 

Buckfast Abbey is conveniently located midway between Exeter and Plymouth, just off the A38. Home to a community of Benedictine monks, the Abbey offers a unique, tranquil ambience, and is open seven days a week to the public. For more information on Buckfast Abbey visit www.buckfast.org.uk.