Newsletter 16
Autumn 2006
of Saint Barnabas
the Encourager

In this Issue:
Prayer for Stillness
Trip to Poland by Fr. Bryan
Who are the Retreat Association?

Echoes in Eternity
by Fr. Bryan.
Friends Attend the Open Day
by Julie Reid-Jones
Acting Warden’s Report

Address: Lower Brynmawr, Kerry, Powys, SY16 4NQ, Wales. Telephone 01686 630575 or mobile no.07891633487 or 07974794378. Friends’ newsletter ed. & co-ordinator: Juliet Wells. Tel. 01686 670312 or email  



* Eucharist Dates - Celebrated on the third Sunday of the month at 8am: August 27th, October 22nd, November 19th. Following the eucharist, an invite to a community breakfast is extended to all participants.

* Ignatian Day-Retreat Saturday - 9th September 2006.
An Ignation Retreat will be held on Saturday 9th September, 10am to 3.30pm led by Gary and Sian Hiscott. A simple soup lunch will be provided. For those who would like to extend the retreat over the weekend and require accommodation, please contact the monastery. Numbers are limited to 8. There is a suggested donation of £10 (in support of the monastery) but please note this is voluntary and not a requirement. To reserve a place, please contact Gary on 01686 627470 or email

* Individual /Group Retreats Welcome
If you would like to plan an individual or small group retreat at the monastery and would like some guidance, please contact Fr. Bryan. Retreats can take place over a few hours, a day, a weekend or much longer. Accommodation and self-catering facilities are available.

* Monastery on the World Wide Web!
Dave from Church on the Hill is developing a website for the Monastery of St. Barnabas the Encourager. Currently you can see the first stage of this, a sort of ‘parking page’ at - check it out!

* Invitation to Celebration!
Did you know, it is possible to offer Communion at the monastery on special occasions with your church or fellowship group? Any visiting minister or priest is also welcome to celebrate in accordance with their own tradition, all you need to do is get in touch.

* Volunteers Needed
We are looking for volunteers over the autumn period, who are willing to give up a little time to do a bit of work in the garden, pruning, collecting some wood or generally helping out around the monastery. This can form part of a retreat programme & self-catering accommodation is available giving you the opportunity for ‘time out’ in the beautiful mid-Wales countryside. Come for a few hours, a day, over a weekend or longer. Whatever your skills or abilities, we are sure they will be of help to us.


Prayer for Stillness
God of stillness and
creative action,
help us to find space
for quietness today
that we may live
discover the inner
meaning of silence,
and learn the
that heals the world.
Send peace and joy
to each quiet place,
to all who are
and listening.
May your still small
voice be heard
through Christ, in
the love of the Spirit


Trip to Poland by Fr. Bryan

For this newsletter, I have been asked by Friends of the monastery, to write a little on my trip to Poland. Earlier this summer, I attended the wedding of a man who used to go around with me as a young boy. Here’s a brief resume of some of the things that most struck me about the trip.

Firstly, I have to say that I was very apprehensive about the whole journey, never having been in an airport except for the one time I flew to Israel in an enormous jet plane, with a large party of people. Two days before the flight to Poland, I made my way to Deal in Kent where the man’s mother lives. The advantage of going to Deal, apart from catching up on news, was that I could be guided by someone in today’s strange world of intercontinental travel. I realise these days, I can now get to Poland quicker than I can to London!

Poland appeared to me like a flatter version of England as far as the landscape, climate, flora and fauna were concerned. The noticeable differences were that everyone spoke Polish and appeared to live in concrete block of flats, not too dissimilar to the ones currently being demolished in Birmingham. There also seemed to be much less cut-throat commercialism than we have in the UK. I was greatly impressed by the terrific number of cyclists of all ages, their very efficient tram system and I saw no petrol guzzling 4x4s!

The city centre of Wroklaw where I was staying, was made up of very distinctive squares and buildings with a vast number of Roman Catholic churches, most of which were open. The churches contained many effigies of various saints and showed gory realistic representations of the Cross and the Passion of Christ. Although I didn’t see many depictions of the Resurrection of Jesus, there were numerous statues of Mary, Queen of Heaven and her Assumption and in the Orthodox Church I visited, the representation of Christ was Central - and Risen - Amen! Back in Britain, I took the opportunity of exploring Deal by bicycle.


Who are the Retreat Association?

The Retreat Association is a registered charity comprising six British retreat groups and publishes an annual journal Retreat each autumn that includes:
• Details of over 200 retreat houses in the British Isles, most with programmes for 2006
• Map and index of retreat houses
• Book reviews and advertisements
• Guide to choosing a retreat

Articles (2006):
• Lucus Iste Ron Swan
• The story of an icon David Hill
• Encountering God in vulnerability Mark Argent
• Retreats in Norway Yvonne Walker
• Finding God through art Michael Barrow sj
• A fresh look at the role of the spiritual director Andrew D Mayes
• Learning to be a retreat leader Jane Franklin
• Like a snake Eley McAinsh
• Hungry spirituality John Rackley

How to get your copy:
Buy a copy online or at most Christian bookshops in the UK for £5.00
Increasingly the Association is providing resources for those inquirers who are seeking to further their spiritual journey but are not part of the established church. These people are sometimes on the edges of the church because they feel hurt, disillusioned or no longer nourished by it. Others have never been a part of a church and have no desire to do so.

Address: Retreats Association, 256 Bermondsey House, London, SE1 3UJ. Tel. 0845 4561429 (local call rate). Internet: Email:

  Echoes in Eternity by Fr. Bryan.

Recently, I was the guest of a strong ministry team, in one of the largest modern Pentecostal churches in Southwest England know as ‘Elim@Bristol City Church’ (check it out on the web for those who have access at!). This ministry team welcomes, ministers, counsels & supports (spiritually and physically) the needs of its many visitors and congregation. Their aim is to teach and nurture (Mr, Mrs, Miss, & Ms.) everyman/woman in Christian faith and practice. In Mid-Wales, by contrast, there is one vicar who does the same for three congregations in about ten square miles!

I found the service brilliantly challenging and thought-provoking. The Senior Pastor gave a sermon on ‘Echoes in Eternity’ using the Biblical passage: ‘For this cause, Jesus came into the world……’ (Jn.8:37) as his underpinning message. He preached that God has an end-purpose for everyone; that all events including those things we have forgotten and those we view as pointless, serve to draw us into God’s desired plan. He said, this is in place from the moment we are conceived.

I was reminded of Watchman Nee’s point about the world being like a giant jigsaw puzzle with each person an important piece in the picture, serving to contribute to the whole.

Something struck me afresh, as I reflected on my early childhood. When I was prompted to the religious life as a young boy, I was unable to make sense of seemingly strange ideas, feelings and promptings. But now, some sixty years on through revelation, guidance and prayer, I am aspiring to respond to God’s calling to the monastic life at Brynmawr, in Wales.

I have noticed that in the past twelve months, there have been two television reality documentaries on BBC2, featuring ordinary men and women volunteering to live in a religious order for several weeks. The first programme, called The Monastery showed five men entering the Benedictine monastery of Worth Abbey and the second, The Convent, four women entering the convent of The Poor Clares in Arundal.

These programmes have tapped into a growing consciousness for spiritual nourishment. For instance, after the programmes were broadcast, Worth Abbey was inundated with enquiries from the viewing public. Many conventional churches however, are attempting to draw people by ‘catering’ to needs as practiced in the secular world, yet monasteries with their non-compromising discipline are attracting the interest of many more. Interestingly, many are pulled to Christian Orthodoxy for much the same reason.

It therefore occurred to me, as the Pastor was addressing the mainly young congregation, that I was perhaps the oldest of the ministry team. As my reflections continued, I was able to see that the seed which had been planted in childhood was bearing fruit today and that my whole life had been a training ground with nothing wasted. All of my experiences had shaped me in relation to my current position, to respond to the present age of spiritual-seekers who are similar to those as depicted in the two programmes - what extraordinary & blessed timing!

Each of us who commits our life to God, will discover sooner or later the unique plan which He has in mind from the very start of our lives. And in His incredible love, we have been given the free will to ignore or respond to His calling [Isaiah 43:4.AV].

  Friends Attend the Open Day by Julie Reid-Jones
There was an Open Day at the monastery of St Barnabas the Encourager, on Saturday, 5th August when a number of Friends gathered to share lunch and fellowship. After we had eaten a fine meal, the conversation turned to the fabric of the monastery. Fr. Bryan explained that there is a limit to any physical changes to the building due to insufficient ground space, but that consideration has been given to extending the kitchen area. This would enable more people to share a meal around the table.

Friends also began to reflect on the running of the monastery should Fr. Bryan, currently Resident Anchorite & acting Warden, be unable to continue with his responsibilities and work. Someone said they would like to see the values of openness and pastoral support which underpin the monastery’s ethos continue. Another Friend felt there should be a written statement which expresses this whilst someone challenged that any new person would inevitably bring there own personal style & qualities to the monastery.

As we shared our thoughts, there was a consensus on the distinctive qualities the monastery offers people. One friend said it is special because it helps to change lives and that people are responsive and appreciative of its ecumenical approach, whilst another expressed the real sense of peace they have found at the monastery.

Whilst there is naturally concern about the future, it was agreed that Friends might like to pray for the right person or couple to come along who could continue the work in line with the open/ecumenical ethos of the monastery and with guidance from the core group.

  Acting Warden’s Report
Although the winter months were quiet this year, during the summer we had many visitors including two people who joined the monastery for a long stay retreat of ten days.

Jill left us in June. We are most grateful for all her hard work, especially with the soft furnishings and the mammoth task of cataloguing the 2,000 books in the monastery library. We wish her every blessing on her journey.

An encouraging development is taking place locally. We are noticing that more people in the community are interested in what is going on at Brynmawr. We had a visit from the local W.I. as well as from nearby church leaders who came here to prepare for various projects.

We are giving consideration to the monastery possibly becoming ‘A Church of Ease’. In the past, these were churches in small villages close to people’s home affording easier access for regular worship.

A website for the monastery is in development with the kind help of Dave from Church on the Hill in Birmingham.