Prayer, Study and Community
The Society of the Sacred Mission exists to serve the Church; its charitable objects refer to increasing the number of those given 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’.
Central to the life of St Antony’s Priory is the rhythm of daily prayer in the chapel. This is the beating heart around which the life of the Priory revolves, providing the structure of the day, and giving shape to everything else we do here.
The timetable is provisional and gradually evolving, but the aim is to establish a rhythm of daily meditation, morning and evening prayer, a daily Eucharist, and regular meditation classes, as well as sung services on Sundays and the major festivals of the Christian year.
If attending a public service or meditation class, please make your way to the chapel via the outside steps, if you are able, rather than through the house.
The Society of the Sacred Mission has, from its foundation, been involved in theological education, with a particular focus on widening access for people without prior academic qualifications.
Today, St Antony’s is seeking to be true to those foundational principles, whilst also being relevant to our contemporary context.
A new range of programmes are currently in the early stages of development, but could include a series of broad-based and accessible short courses exploring the study of spirituality, from a number of different perspectives, aimed at people who wish to explore the ‘big questions’ and go deeper into the theory and practice of spiritual traditions and disciplines.
In a hugely exciting new development, we plan to establish a small residential praying community, living on site at St Antony’s.
This will comprise up to six people, men and women, who will live, work and pray together for about a year at a time. The community will inevitably define the character of St Antony’s and determine all other aspects of the life of the Priory.
There is still a great deal to work out in terms of how the community will function, but essentially the idea is that it will provide an opportunity for people, at any stage of life, who may be wondering where God might be calling them next, and for whom the experience of spending some time immersed in the discipline and structure of a ‘new monastic’ religious community, and sharing a common life of work and prayer, might be powerfully transformative.
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.
“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.”