From the Director
by Fr Roger Dawson SJ
As we come to the end of 2018 I am writing to thank you for the prayers, support and assistance you give to St Beuno’s as our Friends. The Friends of St Beuno’s scheme has tapped into a well of goodwill for St Beuno’s that frankly we had not fully appreciated or realised, and it has been often a surprise as well as a delight to hear from Friends how important this place is for them and what God has done for them here. The Friends’ Weekends are always a happy and relaxed time for both the team and the twenty or so Friends that come. If you have not been yet, we would be delighted to see you. You can be sure of a warm welcome and a very enjoyable weekend.
A few things to update you on: the appeal for the new Prayer Room on the top terrace has started well and so far we have raised or have commitments to more than £10,000 which is fantastic. The architect is revising the plans to control the costs, which are considerable, but I hope that we will be able to start construction in 2019. Several people have raised some very reasonable questions about the project, and I hope that my letter explained some of the reasoning behind it.
Secondly, we launched the appeal for the repair of and improvements to the Rock Chapel in Advent, which needs urgent repairs in the next year. We will also improve the approach and surrounding landscaping as part of this. This was sent to all those on the Beuno’s mailing list apart from the Friends, as we would certainly not ask you to support two projects at the same time! So if by accident you have received a letter, please ignore it!
Thirdly, next year there will be a lot of work on the building at St Beuno’s as the next phase in the development commences. In March we will start work on the new entrance to St Beuno’s from the lower car park (it is the original entrance below the tower into the existing Bellarmine Room); the Ground Floor gallery outside the dining room will be improved; and the team accommodation above, which currently has some of the worst rooms in the house, will be upgraded. At the same time a new boiler house will be built near the current staff car park which will significantly reduce our carbon footprint. And the entire South Wing (by the Rose Garden) will be covered in scaffolding for essential stonework and roof repairs, including to the Chapel, from February for about four months. These works will cost about £2m and will be largely funded by the Trustees of the British Jesuits. We will stay open in this time (we lose about £20,000 for each week that we closed in lost income!), but there will inevitably be some disruption.
Finally, any of you who have been here since June will have seen the improvements to the woods and trees. I was very apprehensive about how people would react to this work but the response to it has been almost universally positive. As we get more light into the woods the biodiversity will improve, and we have opened up some of the views. This is part of a five-year plan of woodland management and work will continue in 2019.
Thank you again for your support for St Beuno’s, especially for your prayers. Many of us will enter 2019 with a certain amount of apprehension regarding events in our national life and a time of great uncertainly, and the impact that will have. Christian hope is not facile hope, nor mere optimism, but a conviction that God can take any situation, however difficult or desperate it may seem, and bring it to fruition and His purpose. As Christians we are called to be ‘bearers of that hope’ for those that may not see it or believe it and I believe that St Beuno’s helps us to do this with conviction.
May I wish you and your family and friends a happy and peaceful Christmas.
With my best wishes and prayers,
Fr Roger Dawson SJ