The South Devon Abbey built upon the foundations of its mediaeval Cistercian predecessor and modelled on the architecture of the ruins of Kirkstall Abbey in Leeds, is emerging into the New Evangelisation under the leadership of its Abbot.
I have very happy memories of Buckfast Abbey from my five, week-long, visits there in the 1980s. In beginning to discern a vocation, I stayed in the guest house of the Abbey in 1980 and immediately fell in love with it - I was completely entranced by the place. I returned the following year and stayed for the whole of Holy Week, taking part in the beautiful Easter Liturgies. These years were tremendously formative of my vocation, which I came to realise lay not in a monastic community but in priestly life and apostolate. I am grateful to the monks who I got to know during those visits and who spent time conversing with me, Abbot Placid, Dom Joseph, Dom Sebastian, Dom Stephen, Dom Francis. I returned twice more as a seminarian and again as a newly ordained priest.
My last visit was a flying one: having arrived back from Spain in the year 2000 after my two years of study in Valencia, disembarking from the ferry in Plymouth, I drove straight to Buckfast to pray in the Abbey Church at the shrine of Our Lady of Buckfast, and to give thanks for my newly achieved Licentiate and my safe return.
May Our Lady of Buckfast be a great light to the newly developing apostolate of the School of the Annunciation: may many new-comers be formed by the grace of this beautiful Abbey and its school, and may the Benedictine community receive new vocations, nurtured by Her hand.