School of the Annunciation: Centre for the New Evangelisation at Buckfast Abbey, Devon

Deacon Nick Donnelly’s Protect the Pope site has published the following announcement. This has to be good news for the Catholic Church in England:

angelstatueA Centre of Formation for the New Evangelisation has been established by leading experts in Catholic education.  Dr Petroc Willey, Dr Andrew Beards, Dr Caroline Farey and others, have established this centre, called the School of the Annunciation, in the grounds of Buckfast Abbey in Devon, UK, thanks to the generosity and collaboration of the Abbot of Buckfast, the Rt. Rev. David Charlesworth and the monastic community.

Dr Petroc Willey was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI a Consultor to the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelisation in 2012. The Holy Father also appointed Dr Petroc Willey and Dr Caroline Farey as advisors to the Synod on ‘New Evangelisation for the Transmission of the Faith’ held in the Vatican.

The School of the Annunciation will begin by offering a Diploma in the New Evangelisation delivered by experts in this exciting and newly emerging field of activity and reflection in the life of the Church. As well as the Diploma in the New Evangelisation, the School of the Annunciation is offering short Summer Schools.  These provide a unique opportunity to study the Catholic Faith in the beautiful setting of Buckfast Abbey, sharing the monastic community’s life and prayer over long summer weekends in August.

The academic faculty of the School of the Annunciation includes: Dr Andrew Beards, Academic Director; Dr Caroline Farey, Director of Studies; Dr Petroc Willey, Reader in the New Evangelisation, and Rev Nick Donnelly, Director of Formation. The Academic Registrar is Miss Monica Massarella.

On the foundation of the School of the Annunciation Abbot David Charlesworth said:

“Following on the success of the Summer Schools in previous years, the foundation of the School of the Annunciation promises to be the next phase in Buckfast Abbey becoming a centre for authentic Catholic studies in continuity with the great Benedictine tradition stretching back over 1,500 years in our country. May Our Lady of Buckfast bless this new venture.”

Rt Rev Mark O’Toole, Bishop of Plymouth said:

“I am delighted to welcome this new initiative for the New Evangelisation at Buckfast Abbey, and I am grateful for the generosity shown by Abbot David and the Monastic community in providing it a home and direction.  The Diocese of Plymouth looks forward to working with the School of the Annunciation so that the Gospel may more effectively be preached in our society.”

Dr Andrew Beards, the Academic Director, said:

“We have gathered together at Buckfast, a faculty of Catholic theologians and catechists who are experts in collaborative distance learning to create a unique experience in formation for the Church’s urgent mission of New Evangelisation. Our courses will be delivered through a creative mix of short residentials, e-learning and personal tuition.  It is our hope that men and women in this country, and from around the world, will join us in this exciting new venture to take the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ into the heart of 21st century culture.”

More information:

The aim of the School of the Annunciation is to support the formation of lay people and religious in deepening their knowledge and appreciation of the Catholic Faith in this age of the New Evangelisation, in a manner which enables students to draw upon the riches of the Catholic theological heritage, rooted in the integral relationship of Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium.


The School begins with five short summer schools in July/August 2014 to launch its work and give people an opportunity to taste the courses that the School of the Annunciation is offering. These 4-day summer schools provide a unique opportunity to study and discuss the Catholic Faith in the beautiful setting of Buckfast Abbey, sharing the rhythm of daily prayer of the resident monastic community.

Following this, a two-year, distance-learning Diploma in New Evangelisation is being prepared for the Autumn of 2014.  This Diploma includes modules in Theology, Philosophy, Catechesis and Media; it is designed with two long weekends at Buckfast per year, plus home study supported by contact with tutors and use of online resources.

The Diploma is designed in such a way that sets of modules may be followed by groups of people interested in specific areas of study, such as, Philosophy and Catholic Faith, Theology, Catechetical Formation or Apologetics.


The School of the Annunciation is staffed by leading Catholic teachers in the field:

Dr Andrew BeardsAcademic Director,  is respected internationally in the field of Philosophy and the Catholic tradition. He has had over twenty years of experience in teaching seminarians, undergraduates, masters and doctoral students and is the author of many books and articles.

Dr Petroc WilleyReader in the New Evangelisation.   He was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI as a Consultor for the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelisation, chosen as advisor for the Vatican Consultative body for Pope Francis on Catechesis, and was one of the few lay experts for the Synod of Bishops on the ‘New Evangelisation for the Transmission of the Faith’ in October 2012.

Dr Caroline FareyDirector of Studies, is widely known for her work in catechetics in accordance with the mind and heart of the Church. She was one of three lay women experts at the Synod of Bishops on New Evangelisation, and representing the catechists of the world she received the ‘Message for Catechists’ for the Year of Faith from Pope Benedict XVI.

Deacon Nick DonnellyDirector of Formation in the School of the Annunciation, is responsible for formation programmes and spiritual elements of the courses. He is a Deacon of the Lancaster Diocese, is a CTS author and holds an MA in Spiritual Formation.

Contact details



Phone: 01364 645660

Please pray for the success of this new venture:

School of the Annunciation Prayer 

Mary, Mother of the New Evangelisation, as you prayed continuously with the Church at the beginning (Acts 1:14) be united with us now in prayer. Help us to return to the school of Nazareth and to echo your words in the hour of the Annunciation: “let it be to me according to your word” (Lk. 1:38). Help us to rejoice in the wonder of the Incarnation and with you to treasure all these things and ponder them in our hearts (Lk 2:19). Obtain for us the courage to take our stand with you beside the Cross of your Son (Jn. 19:25) in the hour of Redemption. Guide us as we set out along all the ways of the earth to bring to our brothers and sisters the light of faith, hope and charity (Lk. 1: 39). All to the praise and adoration of the Most Holy Trinity, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit both now and for ever. Amen.

(School of the Annunciation Prayer written by Rt. Rev. Mark Davies, Bishop of Shrewsbury Diocese.)

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15 Responses to School of the Annunciation: Centre for the New Evangelisation at Buckfast Abbey, Devon

  1. mkenny114 says:

    This is a brilliant initiative – just the sort of initiative that the Church in England needs! And it is especially pleasing for me personally, as I used to visit Buckfast Abbey on school trips as a child 🙂


  2. mkenny114 says:

    Oops – sorry for the repetition there. I meant ‘…just the sort of centre that the Church in England needs…’ My over-enthusiasm got the better of me there!


  3. mkenny114 says:

    And again… Blimey!


  4. GC says:

    mkenny1, I suppose it would be wrong to hope that this latest product of Buckfast Abbey is every bit as popular and fortifying (especially amongst the youth, or so I’m told) as one of its earlier products?


  5. mkenny114 says:

    Unfortunately you are right in saying that the tonic wine (originally proposed as something to ‘fortify’ the health apparently) is rather popular amongst young people, especially in Scotland. I’m not quite sure why this is, other than that it is rather cheap. Never tried it myself!

    Anyway, yes I hope that the centre provides a different sort of fortification for the youth of today, and that it proves to be as big a hit 🙂


  6. GC says:

    mkenny114, apologies for depriving you of 2 of your numerals previously. It won’t happen again.

    One has to think that Vatican2 was originally meant to be the source of this “new evangelisation”, or so we were led (lead?) to believe? Figures appear to indicate that that has not turned out to be the case and results have been disappointing.

    What are we, then, to make of Buckfast Abbey’s current project? Is it to be in furtherance of Vatican2”s noble aims or a departure from them? A penny for your thoughts.


  7. mkenny114 says:

    Haha, no problem! 🙂

    Vatican II (and more specifically, how it has been implemented) is always a tricky one. It seems to me that the central failure was by many in the Church to misunderstand its basic purpose and intention, which was, in ‘opening the doors of the Church’, to let the Church out into the world. Unfortunately a lot of people seemed to think that this really meant letting the world into the Church.

    So yes, I do think that Vatican II was meant to be the source of a new evangelisation – it was intended to be a missionary council. The problem was that many there (Kung, Rahner, etc) saw it is a means to modernise the Church and already had their eyes on a Vatican III – we are still feeling the effects of the mess that followed afterwards, and much of Bl. John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s works has been trying to re-steer the ship in the direction that Vatican II had originally intended.

    So, I would say, in conclusion that the project at Buckfast Abbey is indeed to be seen as a furtherance of Vatican II’s aims, and part of that ‘re-steering of the ship’ initiated by our two previous popes. The problem is there are still plenty in the spirit of Kung (though not as many as the media would have us believe I might add) that would seek to wreck its course.


  8. GC says:

    “School of the Annunciation”. Must say I just lurv the name.


  9. GC says:

    mkenny114, thanks for your thoughts and here’s the penny. I hope a cool $125,000 is satisfactory?

    As you say, there appears to be a “reclaim Vatican2 movment” operative now, especialy with Pope Benedict’s pontificate and friends. It could be misconceived, but I wonder what Bishop Francis Bergoglio thinks?


  10. mkenny114 says:

    Thanks for the penny – I’ll take it with me should I ever make a trip Down Under 🙂

    Question – what do you mean by referring to Pope Francis as ‘Bishop Francis Bergoglio’? There are a couple of routes you may have gone down here, but I don’t want to presume anything. As for Pope Francis, he seems to me to be completely on board with the whole hermeneutic of continuity thang – apart from anything he has mentioned it several times in homilies, and regularly consults with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (whose ideas also formed the basis for the bulk of Francis’ encyclical, Lumen Fidei).


  11. GC says:

    mkenny114, I was really only trying to elicit the opinion of others. The ‘new evangelisation’ was clearly something Pope Benedict started but no doubt knew he would have to leave to his successors to follow through on. I for one cannot see that Pope Bergoglio is following through much, do you? I suppose I, along with others, will just need to wait and see.


  12. mkenny114 says:

    Actually, although Pope Benedict set up the Council for Promoting the New Evangelisation, it was Bl. John Paul II that got the ball rolling, so to speak (c.f.;

    Anyway, my contention is that the only thing that is ‘new’ about the New Evangelisation is the use of new technology (e.g. social media, blogging) to spread the word. This in itself can be seen as simply an extension of Vatican II’s agenda, which was to bring the Church to the world (an agenda unfortunately hijacked by some, as I mentioned earlier). But, Vatican II aside, the Church has always done this to some extent – using the language and thought of different cultures to better spread the word of the Gospel. The central problem today is that we are having to communicate it to people in the same culture, who may as well be living on another planet.

    Anyway, my real question was why it is that you will not use Pope Francis’ proper title – regardless of whether you think he is following through with Pope Benedict’s work or not, he is still the pope, no? As I said, I don;t want to assume anything here.


  13. Toadspittle says:

    “Anyway, my real question was why it is that you will not use Pope Francis’ proper title…”



  14. GC says:

    Is there a promble, boys?


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