Cardinal blesses Ampleforth Abbey’s refurbished Retreat and Visitor Centre

A new chapter was opened in the hospitality apostolate of Ampleforth Abbey when Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, travelled to the Benedictine monastery in North Yorkshire on 19th March to bless Alban Roe House, a retreat and visitor centre which has been extensively refurbished with the help of a generous donation. The building brings together residential accommodation, a Tea Room, Shop and Visitor Centre, all of which opened to the general public on 22nd March.

The blessing on the Solemnity of Saint Joseph (19th March) was preceded by the celebration of Mass in the Abbey church attended by more than 100 invited guests including employees and volunteers, contractors who had worked on the refurbishment of Alban Roe House, representatives from local parishes, and staff and students of Ampleforth College. More than 800 people also followed the Mass by live stream. Cardinal Nichols presided and celebrants included the Abbot of Ampleforth Abbey, Abbot Robert Igo OSB, with bishops and members of the monastic community.

In his homily, Cardinal Nichols recalled bringing a group of sixth-form students from Wigan to Ampleforth in 1973.

“For the youngsters,” he said, “it was an eye-opener. Some had never been away from Wigan, never experienced the pitch black of night without street lights, never sensed the spirit of prayer of the monastic Divine Office. Nor, more importantly, had some ever experienced the unconditional welcome they received from this community.”

The Cardinal said that the development of Alban Roe House will greatly enhance the outreach of the monastery, especially to today’s young people.