Update from the director
by Roger Dawson SJ
At the last Friends’ Weekend the highlight perhaps was a talk by the Jesuit Provincial, Fr Damian Howard SJ: ‘St Beuno’s and the wider mission of the Jesuits in Britain.’ He gave an overview of the challenges he saw in the world today and how St Beuno’s can respond to those. First, in a situation of information bombardment, St Beuno’s offers a place to disconnect, go ‘off grid’ and switch off. This is hard to do, especially for young people, but it is necessary and may get harder. Secondly, he stressed, in a time of global crisis (political, social and environmental) we need to get in touch more than ever with our ‘original blessing’. If God is Beauty, Truth and Goodness, St Beuno’s is one place where God can be found. Thirdly, in the face of the ‘weakening of the human’ in our world (where there is much fragility and uncertainty, where identities are unstable, and there is anxiety about masculinity and gender) here at St Beuno’s we can help people to find a ‘healthy human subjectivity’, grounded in their baptismal identity, as people of fundamental dignity who are loved and forgiven sinners. Fourthly, he saw hopeful signs of a moral reawakening, for example in the #metoo movement, and in the current abuse crisis facing the Church. While the usual response to this has been a legal one, or turning to more regulations and procedures, we need moreover, he said, a culture of love and respect, of sound values rooted in the virtues. St Beuno’s has to be a part of shaping that culture.
By now many of you will probably know the sad news that Sister Anne Morris DHS will be leaving us in June after over ten years as she has been appointed Provincial of her religious congregation. Her contribution to St Beuno’s has been incalculable and she will be hugely missed. Please pray for us as we seek to appoint a new Deputy Director - to ‘replace the irreplaceable’! – and for Sister Anne as she takes on a demanding role and steps into the next stage of her ministry.
In the last few weeks we have started a new phase of building and restoration work at St Beuno’s. The whole of the South wing facing the Rose Garden and the chapel are now covered in scaffolding and we have started about £330,000 of stone repairs and restoration to the chimneys and walls, lead work repair and interior repairs where there has been water penetration. This is essential structural repairs and maintenance, done to a very high standard by skilled stonemasons. It means that we will be able to renovate the interior of the chapel in the future. We have also started work on the new boiler house which will be on the right of the main drive near the staff car park. This will be much more efficient and ‘greener’, and will vacate the current boiler house near the kitchen for future development.
The major change taking place will be opening the new entrance to the house from the car park below the tower. This is the original entrance and will give a much better ‘arrival’ to St Beuno’s. The ground floor will also be refurbished, as will the team accommodation above, which currently has some of the worst rooms in the house! In total all these works will cost about £1.9m and are funded by the Trustees of the Jesuits.
The Friends are generously fundraising for the new Prayer Room on the top terrace and we now have 61 who have subscribed or donated to the 40 Month Club and we have so far raised or pledged just over £24,000. This is more than 25% towards our target but we still have some way to go. The architect will be turning to development of the plans once the major works on the house are fully underway, and I hope that we can start work on this in late 2019 or early 2020. Thank you to all of you who have so generously contributed to this.
Fr Provincial described St Beuno’s as the ‘spiritual heart of our mission’, and added: ‘We need a “big world” spirituality, and not a “small world” spirituality – of me and my God, and my spiritual life’.I am really grateful to the Friends for your contribution to this ‘spiritual heart’.You can feel the beat every Friends’ Weekend.If you have not yet been, please come!
Fr Roger Dawson SJ
Director of St Beuno’s