On 26th August 2020 Fr Nicholas Wetz was elected 13th Abbot of Downside. A day after his election, Abbot Nicholas announced that the Community of St Gregory the Great founded in 1606 in Douai in the Spanish Netherlands had unanimously decided to leave Stratton-on-the-Fosse, their home since 1814. With smaller numbers and changing circumstances, the current monastery buildings are no longer suitable or financially viable.
The separation of Downside Abbey and Downside School in September 2019 has enabled the Monastic Community to concentrate on discerning their future. They have now unanimously decided to make a new start and to seek a new place to live. To lead them in the renewal of their monastic vocation and in their search for a new home, they have elected Dom Nicholas Wetz as their Abbot.
The last six years have given the Downside Community time to reflect with sorrow on failures in the care for children entrusted to them and to discern the Community’s future. With smaller numbers and changing circumstances, the current monastery buildings are no longer suitable.
Abbot Nicholas and the Community recognise the importance of taking some time to find a new place and to formulate a plan with regard to this move. They will listen to the interests of the parishioners, employees, tenants, oblates and volunteers associated with the monastery whilst securing the future care of Downside’s Abbey Church, Library and Archives. The now independent Downside School will continue to grow and establish itself at Stratton-on-the-Fosse.
The Benedictine Community currently located at Downside Abbey, Somerset, was founded in 1606 in Douai in the Spanish Netherlands. Following the French Revolution the monks moved to Acton Burnell in Shropshire and then to its current site in 1814.
The monks now ask the prayers and support of the faithful as they seek afresh the will of God for their continuing Benedictine life and mission and embark on this third move in their history.