We were delighted to hear of the election on Wednesday of Dom Nicholas Wetz as the new Abbot of Downside. 

He has led the Monastic Community for the past two years, in his role as the Prior Administrator, with great integrity and vision through a time of substantial change. We are particularly grateful to him for his part in bringing to a successful conclusion the formal separation of the School and Monastery, resulting in their establishment as distinct trusts in September 2019. This is a change which has been embraced positively by both trusts, as it has allowed each to focus on its specific purpose and make plans for its future growth and development. We are operationally and financially separate from one another, but of course continue to share common beliefs and values and enjoy a strong and fruitful relationship.

Dom (now Abbot) Nicholas’ leadership has also enabled the monks to give serious thought to their future and examine closely their aims and purpose as a community. Their unanimous decision to make a new start and to seek a new place to live marks an important moment in Downside’s history. There is obviously great sadness that the monks have decided to move from this site but at the same time we entirely respect and understand their reasons for doing so, as they look to renew their monastic calling and strengthen their community for the future. It should be remembered that the stability of the community derives from its monks and not its location and that the Community of St. Gregory the Great has not always been located at Stratton on the Fosse. I should also make clear that the monks’ decision will not adversely affect the School Trust’s ongoing operation or financial position in any way.

We will continue to draw gratefully and imaginatively on our rich tradition of Catholic and Benedictine life. It is in this that our core mission is rooted, providing such solid foundations for our pupils and their families during Downside’s 400 year history. This is more relevant than ever today as a source of strength and stability amidst the rapid change and uncertainty associated with the current pandemic and other challenges. We are extremely grateful for the continued support of all those associated with Downside and for the confidence they show in us.

We will naturally keep the monks in our prayers as they continue to discern their future. We are fully supportive of their wishes to find a place, more suitable to their needs, in which to move forward with confidence. We recognise that this will take time but the School looks forward to a new and fruitful relationship with the Monastic Community wherever their next chapter takes them.

To read Abbot Nicholas’ statement, please click here.