Whalley Abbey welcomes new director as it prepares for first monastic community in 500 years

The licensing service for the new Director of Whalley Abbey, Rev. Adam Thomas, took place this week at nearby Whalley Parish Church.

Wednesday, 10th March 2021, 3:45 pm
Archdeacon Mark Ireland; Cathy Thomas; Bishop of Burnley, Rt Rev. Philip North; Rev. Adam Thomas, the new Director of Whalley Abbey; Rt Rev. Cyril Ashton; Bishop of Blackburn, Rt Rev. Julian Henderson; Bishop of Lancaster, Rt Rev. Dr Jill Duff; Archdeacon David Picken

The current plan is to have Whalley Abbey fully reopened by September as a Centre for Christian Discipleship and Prayer, pandemic restrictions permitting, while a new monastic community will also be re-established, the first in nearly five centuries.

Archdeacon Mark said: “Tonight’s service was a wonderful occasion. I am full of anticipation now for what the future holds; for what God has in store for us as we seek to develop and grow our new Centre for Discipleship and Prayer.

“It was a shame we had to limit attendance to just a few representatives of all the organisations and groups involved in getting us to this point. But we pray there will be brighter times ahead with many opportunities to come together again properly in great numbers to celebrate all God is doing at the Abbey!”

Pictured outside after the licensing service are Rev. Adam Thomas, the new Director of Whalley Abbey, and his wife Cathy

Adam’s licensing service was attended by all Bishops and Archdeacons: Rt Rev. Julian Henderson, Bishop of Blackburn; Rt Rev. Philip North, Bishop of Burnley; Rt Rev. Dr Jill Duff, Bishop of Lancaster; the Venerable David Picken, Archdeacon of Lancaster and the Venerable Mark Ireland, Archdeacon of Blackburn, who is also current Chair of the Whalley Abbey Steering Group.

After the service, held appropriately in the Abbey’s ancient misericords which are now to be found in the parish church, Bishop Julian blessed the Abbey site itself and the Abbey Chapel.

He said: “The licensing service this evening represents a new chapter in the history of an ancient Christian site. As we emerge from the pandemic in the coming months and years, our new Centre for Christian Discipleship and Prayer at Whalley will be a place of refreshment. We are all praying for Adam and Cathy and for the success of the project.

“The new centre will serve our parishes of course, helping to create a new generation of disciples, witnesses and leaders for Christ; inspiring children and young people too.

“But, as has been the case for countless previous generations, a welcome to the Abbey retreat house is also extended to everyone from across the whole of the county and beyond.”

Adam added: “As we set out on our journey as part of the new Centre for Christian Discipleship and Prayer here at Whalley, we want to ensure it feels like a place where anyone can belong; where they can grow and be nurtured in their faith of course, but also that it is a place anyone feels they can escape to and find peace in and with God.”