Exploring New Monasticism
Our story began in Romagny where the first house of hospitality and prayer was established - this was l'Abri à Suvigny. For 16 years we welcomed people of all ages, nationalities and spiritual persuasions. Many found their life journey took a different course after they had spent time with us, and many returned again and again. Our daughter grew up, went to university, found a husband, and got married from the home at Suvigny. She and her husband, Mateusz lived in Community with us for two years. Now, she is established with her own family in the North of France, and we are beginning a new chapter in a new location, but not far from the original house. From now on, we will be known as L'Abri à Savigny, because the new home is in Savigny-le-Vieux. The same spirit which inspired and ministered to and through us, continues to lead and guide. We hope that many more people will come and share our space and prayer times with us, so that their journey will be enriched as much as ours has been. It is such a privelege to meet people and walk as companions on the road together, whether that be for a time, a season, or a life-time. If you feel called to come, follow your heart, and you will find a warm welcome and space to be........ who knows what God will do with that space..........?
L ‘ Abri à Suvigny
(A House of Prayer, Retreat and Hospitality)
L’Abri à Suvigny was a project which had been developing since 2005 into a place where people could come to stay for a short or longer time, to live in a Christian Community and practise a modern form of monasticism, working within a framework and rhythm to the day allowing space for work, prayer/meditation, relaxation and study. The 'cell' that a monk of old would withdraw to can be developed as a 'cell within the heart' to which one withdraws spiritually throughout the day, rather than necessarily being a particular place. This aside, we had a 'poustinia' or prayer cell in the prayer garden, as well as a chapel. L‘ Abri ran as self-sufficiently and organically as possible with a woodland, orchard, a Shetland pony, small livestock like sheep, chickens and rabbits, vegetable garden, pond, meadow and prayer garden. The aim was to be environmentally friendly to wild creatures as well as domestic ones, and encourage all visitors to be involved in the day to day jobs, as well as any training/retreat programme they might be coming for.
We are Companions of the Northumbria Community in the UK, and because those who espouse the Community principles vow to be available, intentionally vulnerable and to show hospitality to all, there is also the option for anyone who feels pulled to community living to live on the farm for a time or longer, as God leads.
The property consisted of a house and a separate barn. The ground floor of the house was for communal use and the upstairs was the private area for the owners. An extension to the house was built with a guest bedroom and lounge downstairs. There was also a chalet in the garden for the use of visitors. It was possible for tents/caravans to be accommodated next to the orchard. The project required the full renovation of the existing buildings as a first phase, followed by extension of the house to accommodate the extra bedroom and the conservatory. The planting and design of the grounds was achieved and then required ongoing maintenance. A prayer garden with Poustinia, was well developed, and there was a chapel near the barn.
As the years passed, it was evident that just as important as the physical progress was the social and spiritual progress which had we observed in the people that became involved. Our prayer was that God would be in every block laid, and every plan made, in every plant that grows and in every life that was touched by contact with the project. Many who came expressed the desire to return, and many did in fact done so. A warm welcome was always offered, and time and space for reflection and conversation was constantly available.