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Saturday, February 7, 2009

"Goodbye beer, hello Brothers"

From the Bolton News
By James Higgins

HE enjoyed a beer in the pub with his pals and loved the occasional biscuit.

But Peter Berry’s life in the fast lane is well and truly behind him — as he has become a monk.

The 46-year-old from Farnworth became the first person in nine years to join the Benedictine monks of Belmont Abbey at a ceremony in Hereford.

Mr Berry, who is now known as Brother Andrew, said: “I felt the call to Belmont in 1998. For me, it was inevitable. I’m very happy and content. Belmont is where God wants me to be.”

When asked what he would miss most about everyday life, Brother Andrew said: “Being free to go the pub with my mates and being able to eat the biscuits I choose, instead of those I’m given.”

Brother Andrew first arrived at the monastery in 1998 but after a few months he left, feeling unready for a monastic life.

He returned in 2004 and, by monastic tradition, changed his name. Now he has joined the monk’s community following a “solemn profession” ceremony.

His fellow monks have welcomed him to the fold — and not just for his faith. He also has a wealth of experience from the computer industry and most of the 40 monks at Belmont regularly use information technology.

Brother Andrew also has a degree and a master’s degree in theology, and is taking a further theology qualification. He hopes to be ordained to the priesthood and is training at Oscott College, a seminary linked to Birmingham Archdiocese.

More then 30 students and staff from Oscott College attended his ceremony at a packed Belmont Abbey church.

It was witnessed by his grandmother, Marjorie Berry, aged 86, from Farnworth and Brother Andrew made his vows to the Rt Rev Paul Stonham, the Abbot of Belmont.

Brother Andrew sang his commitment in Latin and then carried out symbolic rituals.

It ended with him undergoing three days of silent retreat — which meant he couldn’t enjoy the reception afterwards!

But grandmother Mrs Berry said: “It was a wonderful ceremony. I was so proud of Andrew — but I’ve been proud of him all his life.”

The Abbot said: “We are absolutely delighted. Men with vocations are now often older with a career behind them. They are much more stable.”


Paul said...

Brother Andrew is with us, in formation for the priesthood, here at Oscott seminary in the UK. Do please pray for him, and for us all. This is a great blog. Well constructed, good layout and excellent posts. Thanks and God be with you.

Brad Watkins said...

Be assured of our prayers and thank you for your kind words about the blog!

brandrew said...

I was surprised to see my picture on your excellant blog I didn't know the Bolton Evening News had reached America. Belmont Abbey in the UK also have a web site and there are more pictures on there. Keep up the good work and may God Bless you.

Dom Andrew

Brad Watkins said...

Dom Andrew,

Sorry for the delay in responding your comment. Thank you for your kind words. And how much more surprised I was to find out that you read my blog!!! Thank you for your prayers, be assured of mine for you and your brothers at Belmont.

In Christ,