Notre Dame Priory in Colebrook (Tasmania, Australia)

There is a little-known traditional Benedictine monastic community in Australia on the island of Tasmania called Notre Dame Priory. It was founded by an American monk from Kentucky who is also the community's first prior, Dom Pius Noonan, OSB. The group began with four postulants and has slowly grown with vocations from different countries.  

Given the crucial role of monasteries in rebuilding and preserving culture and civilization, this is a good sign for Australia. The community, dedicated to Our Lady of Cana,  is located in the Diocese of Hobart in a rural farming area. The monks are recognized by their beautiful white habit. In addition, their heads are crowned with a medieval-style tonsure in the style of Le Barroux Abbey in the south of France. 

In 2017 the community was instituted as a private association of the faithful under the authority of the Archbishop of Hobart, Archbishop Julian Porteous. By the end of that same year the monks received canonical recognition as a public association of the faithful. Notre Dame Priory was therefore founded as a Benedictine community that will hopefully one day be a full-fledged autonomous monastery. 

In 2018 the monks purchased their current home, a working farm, and named it Jerusalem Estate. In 2019 the monastery moved into the old manor house on the property that was refurbished by them. 

In the Benedictine tradition, the monks are working hard to support themselves. They have set up their own publishing house known as Cana Press to publish Catholic books and other printed material such as greetings cards and holy cards. They are also busy working on planting a vineyard, and have established a substantial vegetable garden and fruit tree orchards.

For their own living accommodations, the monks are building 18 little cabins (one per monk). They have also relocated on their property an old wooden church that is more than 100 years old. After it lay vacant for some years, it was moved to Colebrook in 2019 and was solemnly blessed and dedicated by the local bishop in 2021. Today it is called the chapel of the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady.

Like various other monasteries, such as Flavigny in France, where these monks trace their roots, the community has as part of its specific purpose the offering of retreats. While most of the retreats are held in Australia, some are also held in the United States. The retreats in Australia are in Tasmania, New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland. In the United States they are held in Ohio at the Maria Stein sanctuary (the shrine with the second largest collection of relics in the country). 

The retreats the monks offer give people an atmosphere of silence and recollection with a taste of Benedictine hospitality. From years of experience, the retreats are in the form of the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius. Each day involves Holy Mass, a series of conferences to prepare participants for the meditations proposed in the Spiritual Exercises, devotions and certain hours of the Divine Office. There are also opportunities for spiritual direction and confession. For the retreat schedule, see here

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Following are images of various liturgies, including the recent solemn profession of vows and monastic consecration of a member of the community at the church of St. Patrick in Colebrook (the nearest Catholic parish to the monastic property). This beautiful little Gothic Revival gem resembles something from the English countryside, complete with a rood screen in late medieval style.  

We wish this new community well and hope it will flourish under the protection of Our Lady as the years unfold. 


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