Three Benedictine brothers make first vows

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Three Benedictine brothers make first vows

Recently professed Benedictine brothers have described a sense of freedom and peace on making their first religious vows.

Three brothers of the Benedictine community of the Notre Dame Priory made their simple profession of religious vows on December 8 as part of a Mass in honour of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception in a full St Patrick’s Church in Colebrook.

All brothers had family who travelled from interstate for the occasion.

The simple vows (or ‘triennial vows’) are only made for the duration of three years. Solemn profession – where vows are made for the rest of a person’s life – is made at a later stage.

However, 26-year-old Br Bede Mary Cannavo OSB explains that the simple vows is the ‘definitive day’.

“This is the definitive day: my old life is over and my new life begins,” he said.

“It’s freedom, being in religious life, to focus on God alone. Alone, but at the same time with the support and love of your brothers.”

In accord with Benedictine tradition, the brothers made vows of stability, conversion of ways, and obedience. ‘Conversion of ways’ encompasses the living out of both chastity and poverty.

Prior of the community Fr Pius Mary Noonan OSB celebrated the Mass, which was attended by Archbishop Julian. During the homily, Fr Pius Mary noted that each brother making vows had been the beneficiary of a very special ‘divine intervention’.

“Had not God stepped into your life, you would not be here today. Had not the Lord of all things knocked at the door of your heart, you would never have had an inkling as to what monastic life is about,” he said.

Br Gregory Mary Hobbs OSB, 28, was working as a teacher in Wagga Wagga when he decided to discern religious life, and he sees it as a “surer path to conforming myself to God’s will”.

“That’s the beauty of the vow of obedience: I’ve made a deal with God that whatever I’m told to do, I’ll do, with the certainty that I’m doing His will,” he said.

Br Gregory Mary says he stepped out to discern monastic life out of a growing desire to give himself in a radical way to Christ.

“And this was about as radical as I could find, without going overseas.”

For Br Joseph Mary McMahon OSB, 27, profession has brought a sense of belonging totally to Mary.

“I feel a lot of freedom, I feel a lot of peace and a lot of detachment. It’s not in a sense of being irresponsible, or not having any responsibilities, but you are in Our Lady’s hands and whatever happens – good or bad, annoying or fun – it’s all perfect: perfectly aligned with God’s will.”

He said that he wasn’t looking for religious life, but had wanted to find what would make him happy.

He says one of the unexpected joys of religious life has been the personal encounters, recounting the story of meeting a tourist while travelling back to Tasmania from Sydney. He says she came up to him, asked if he was ‘a real monk’ and showed him her hurt wrist. He suggested they pray.

“We started praying a Hail Mary and she broke down into tears. I didn’t even want to make her cry, but these are the things that open up out of the vocation, out of religious life. You give up your whole life, but you get so much more back in return. ‘A hundred-fold’ is true.”

Currently based in Rhyndaston, the Benedictine community have recently purchased the ‘Jerusalem Estate’ in Colebrook, which they intend to make their permanent home.