History

THE MONASTERY AT STROUD: Yesterday and Today.
Rosemary Christmas

In 1972, at the invitation of the Bishop of Newcastle Ian Shevill, a group of Sisters of St Clare arrived in Australia from Freeland, Oxford, England and were accommodated in the St Johns Rectory at Stroud. The number of Sisters grew and were in need of some long term larger accommodation. The opportunity of building a monastery nearby emerged and the sisters’ vision became a reality in 1980 with the help of many volunteers. For Sr Angela , who was a renowned sculptress from her early years, the building of the monastery was a work of sculpture. “We built a mudbrick monastery and people come to it and pick up something that is imparted to them from the place …It’s got nothing to do with bricks and mortar …it was made from the earth … this place will live on whatever happens because love formed it”. “I long to see writers and theologians, artists and students coming to spend time at Stroud to study and work and to join in the rhythm of prayer and worship.” (Quotes from the recent book “Sculptor of Spirit: Angela of Stroud.” Faith Read )

In 1972, at the invitation of the Bishop of Newcastle Ian Shevill, a group of Sisters of St Clare arrived in Australia from Freeland, Oxford, England and were accommodated in the St Johns Rectory at Stroud.The number of Sisters grew and were in need of some long term larger accommodation. The opportunity of building a monastery nearby emerged and the sisters’ vision became a reality in 1980 with the help of many volunteers. For Sr Angela , who was a renowned sculptress from her early years, the building of the monastery was a work of sculpture.  “We built a mudbrick monastery and people come to it and pick up something that is imparted to them from the place …It’s got nothing to do with bricks and mortar …it was made from the earth … this place will live on whatever happens because love formed it”. “I long to see writers and theologians, artists and students coming to spend time at Stroud to study and work and to join in the rhythm of prayer and worship.” (Quotes from the recent book “Sculptor of Spirit: Angela of Stroud.” Faith Read )

By the year, 2000, for various reasons, there were no Sisters of St Clare in occupation of the monastery. Sr Angela had ill health and moved to America where she died in 2002. The Samaritans and the Parish of St Johns took over management of the monastery to help until the Friends of the Monastery and the Management Committee was formed. Income comes only from the bookings and the “Friends of the Monastery Stroud” membership. Please help by becoming a member and receiving the Newsletter.(Annual Membership Fee $21.00. Concession $15.00 to “Friends of the Monastery Stroud Inc.” PO Box 247 Cherrybrook. N.S.W. 2126.)

The Management Committee volunteers meet monthly to maintain the property and bookings under an agreement with the Society of St Francis Trust. Since the 2nd Order Sisters of St Clare have gone, the 1st Order Brothers with the 3rdOrder Tertiaries are now  the caretakers for the whole property – a serious and important responsibility for Tertiaries. Perhaps many Tertiaries do not realize that they are inheritors of this remarkable place.!

Such a unique retreat and centre is a marvelous legacy and one we need to nurture and treasure sharing the Franciscan world view of reverence for life and sustainability so needed for the world today.