There is a group of men who express their spiritual affiliation to the Abbey as Benedictine Oblates; these are principally those whose circumstances do not make it possible to join the Community as monks. In addition, the Abbot and Community established the fellowship of the Companions of Our Lady and Saint John in order to affirm the prayerful contribution made to the life of Alton Abbey by those who worship with the monastic family.
A Prayerful Fellowship
Although the Abbey of Our Lady and Saint John is not part of the parochial system of the Church of England, it is recognised and affirmed by the Advisory Council for the relations of Bishops and Religious Communities. The resident Community is comprised of Benedictine monks, together with those who are in formation as novices or postulants; but the family of Alton Abbey also reaches out into wider society.
There are many who come to the Abbey, whether day by day, or Sunday by Sunday, or less frequently, who do so in order to worship or make retreat with the resident Community. Such regular worshippers and others who wish to celebrate their spiritual connection with the Community of Alton Abbey, are eligible to join the Companions of Our Lady and Saint John, at the discretion of the Abbot.
“After the Ascension, they went back to Jerusalem, a short distance away, and when they reached the city the disciples went to the upper room where they were staying. With one heart all these joined constantly in prayer, together with some women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.” (Acts 1: 12-14)
Becoming a Companion
The Companions attend worship at the Abbey on a regular basis and offer the daily Prayers of Union. This brief Litany is offered by the resident Community at the end of meditation early in the morning, but it may be offered by the Companions at any suitable and convenient time, according to individual circumstances. The Companions are provided with a monthly cycle of intercession, which is shared by the resident Communities, Oblates and Associates of Alton Abbey, the Ecumenical Benedictine Community at Bartonville, Illinois, and the Society of the Sisters of Bethany, Southsea. The Companions are encouraged to undertake a Quiet Day each year at the Abbey. Usually, that Quiet Day will be led by one of the monks on a date arranged well in advance to enable as many Companions as possible to come together in fellowship.
New admissions to the Companions are made on the Sunday nearest to the Solemnity of Our Lady and Saint John (25 October), except in the case of pastoral necessity. The Abbot encourages the Companions to make an annual renewal of their prayerful commitment, at the same time as any new admissions.
If you believe that membership of the Companions of Our Lady and Saint John would help to affirm your spiritual connection with the Benedictine Community at Alton Abbey, please contact the Abbot.