On behalf of the monastery and college community of MSJ, We would like to extend a very warm welcome to our first-year students. They and their parents joined us for Vespers last night in our Abbey Church – the geographical and spiritual centre of the MSJ site.
We would especially like to welcome the students and families who do not have a prior association with our community. It is a profound responsibility to oversee the education of youngsters and, thanking them for entrusting us with the education of their children, we look forward to a long, rewarding and happy relationship with them.
We monks follow the sixth-century Rule of St Benedict which refers to the monastery as a ‘school of the Lord’s service’. In this milieu our lives have become a search for wisdom through the prism of community life. When placed in synopsis with the mission statement of the college, the Cistercian life has deep parallels, as students ‘live and pray, study and seek the truth in harmony and mutual respect’. The environment we develop for our students is essentially Benedictine, as we foster encouragement, moderation in all things and a positive attitude to life.
Each child is a miracle, housing unique skills and abilities. Led by the beautiful and deeply human words of St Benedict, all of our students have an important role to play here at MSJ, as we challenge the strong and offer encouragement to those who are not so strong, across the vast spectrum of the syllabus and extra-curricular activities.
Hospitality lives at the very heart of all we do here at MSJ. The most palpable manifestation of this is our guest house, yet it is an important aspect of college life, too. Our staff and community work hard to clear a space inside the hearts of our students for the presence of Christ and, through our example, we hope that the boys will follow our lead, developing a Christ-centred ethos within their community, reaching out to their fellow students in charity and peace.
Cistercian College is committed to academic excellence. This excellence, though, is but an extension of Mount St Joseph Abbey’s Christ-centred community life. It is from such a life that our abilities, exam results, future aspirations and long-standing friendships develop from new growth into trees. So we pray, as term begins at Cistercian College, for all of our boys, remembering them in the weeks and months ahead. We ask the Holy Spirit to guide them, and us, in the search for knowledge and truth. Amen.