For the last couple of days, we have been blessed with the presence of His Eminence the Cardinal Archbishop of Barcelona, Juan José Omella, and a number of the clergy from the same Archdiocese. Fr Gabriel welcomed our guests late on Wednesday evening, and the following morning we prayed Lauds together in our chapel. Fr Hugh (one of the few Spanish speakers amongst us) then led a tour around the Abbey Church, and his skills were required once more at Mass to translate Fr Gabriel’s sermon on the feast of Ss Joachim and Anne (find it here). We shared a meal together immediately after Mass (again, requiring Fr Hugh’s translation skills) and then the local monastic ruins of Rievaulx Abbey were hosts to our guests for the afternoon—there was no time for a siesta! Fr Chad acted as guide, and led our brethren in Christ on to another local monastic site: our sisters at Stanbrook Abbey. As with everyone who visits their monastery on the hill above Wass, several of our friends from Barcelona were struck by the beauty of the place, and the silence they found there. Thankfully, the weather held out until their departure in thunder storm and pouring rain!
After praying Vespers at Stanbrook, the minibus arrived back at Ampleforth just in time for supper. A lively spirit filled the refectory air as we shared our final meal together, and the day was literally completed by praying Compline together. On Friday morning, after praying together for the final time at Lauds, we said our fond farewells to the journeying group. It has been a real encouragement and a blessing to meet a group of priests with so much energy, and full of Evangelii Gaudium (joy of the Gospel), which Cardinal Omella reminded us was so important, as he said goodbye. Fr Gabriel expressed on our behalf how grateful we were for the encouragement and witness which we had received in this short two day stay. Cardinal Omella presented our community with a beautiful replica of the JMJ symbol (Jesus; Mary; Joseph) in the Sagrada Familia (translated Holy Family), and a beautiful book (as well as a digital version), about the incredible church of Barcelona. You can see these in the pictures below. Our prayers go with them on their return journey, we wish them, and all the Archdiocese of Barcelona, many blessings, and we hope that in the future our paths may cross again.