Prayer, Study and Community

St Antony’s Priory, in Durham, is both a residential praying community and a Christian spirituality centre, run by the Society of the Sacred Mission, an Anglican Religious Order originally established towards the end of the 19th Century.

The Society of the Sacred Mission exists to serve the Church; its charitable aims refer to increasing the number of those giving their lives to the ‘Divine Service’, the ‘Conversion and Perfection of Souls’, and the cultivation of the ‘Divine Science’.

Today, we seek to advance those objects by promoting vocation, nurturing faith and spirituality, and encouraging theological learning – hence our strap-line: ‘prayer, study and community’.

  • The Priory offers spiritual accompaniment and training for spiritual directors, hospitality for groups and individuals, and a varying programme of courses and quiet days.
  • The residential community provides an opportunity for people, who may be wondering where God might be calling them next, to spend up to a year immersed in the discipline and structure of a religious community.
  • Overnight accommodation is available in the Cottage guesthouse, which has four self-catering rooms available for people wishing to spend a few days on retreat.

The Library

The Priory’s new library was created as part of an extensive programme of refurbishment works carried out in 2019. Since then the entire collection has been re-catalogued and this is now accessible online. We hope that our library will become a useful resource for people on our courses, as well as guests, visitors and others who simply be interested in theology and spirituality.

The Society of the Sacred Mission and Kelham

The motto of the Society of the Sacred Mission is: Ad gloriam Dei in eius voluntate (To the glory of God in the doing of his will). Fr Kelly described it as ‘an idea in the working’, one that continues to evolve as we seek to discern God’s will today.

This film, made by the BBC in 1960, shows a fascinating glimpse of Kelham in its heyday – it really is another world…

“Fr Kelly had not really intended to start a religious community, but rather to train men for the new Korean Mission. Quite quickly he took up training priests for the Church in England, and formed a community of priests and lay-brothers as the best way of doing it. He himself was a bit of an academic failure, and he thought that the clergy of his generation spent too much of their time studying theology in the atmosphere of the universities. He viewed the move of the Bishops to restrict ordination to graduates as very foolish. But he was quite sure that men from non-academic, ‘working class’ backgrounds needed a formation which was demanding and rigorous: he aimed to teach his students to think, to do their theology, and not just to learn a series of ‘correct’ answers to be trotted out in sermons. So the life he created was all-embracing: Mass and the daily Office, lectures, housework, manual work – even sport – all were part of the day to day life of the College. Students lived alongside the Community, not in a separate building, and the Kelham way often saw senior tutors sweeping corridors and washing up under the direction of their students.”

Scott Anderson