by Fr. Dan Nobles, OSB
a place set aside for prayer, study,
and celebration of the Mass.
You have probably heard about the “library” that we are building in one of the garage bays here at New Garden Park. Over the past ten months, I have been transforming space that was filled with storage into a place for prayer and study. The concept was to build a large “box” that would serve several purposes. It would house books and serve as a study space. It would provide a sacred place for daily prayer. And occasionally, it could be used as a place for worship. My vision was to build a place of simple beauty that would surprise anyone who sees the garage from the outside but would invite their spirit to experience God’s presence as they enter the Oratory.
The Oratory is the initial footprint of Christ Mission Anglican Benedictines at the New Garden Abbey. The Abbey concept invites various ministries to be established on the grounds of the Church of the Redeemer. When I was invited to be part of the Abbey, we considered the need for a Monastic presence here at New Garden. The garage was a surprisingly perfect place to prepare space to fit our needs for study and prayer (the fundamental practices of Benedictine Spirituality). We needed a place to pray the Liturgy of the Hours, the ancient prayerful rhythm of our practice. We needed a place that promotes reading, research, and study. Monastics have been faithful stewards of biblical study for more than 1,500 years. We needed an Oratory.
Last July, I began emptying the garage bay and building a floor in the area. With the help of MacEntyre Allen, Tony Nguyen, David Waldron, Mack Arrington, and Tom and Thomas Benson, the walls went up, windows and doors went in, and the space slowly began to take shape.
The design was inspired by St. Francis Springs Prayer Center. The center of the Oratory is built as a post and beam construction, made of cedar. The center is gabled with cedar planks forming the ceiling. Two pendant lights hang from the high central beam. Small spot lamps are placed in the front to offer light to worshippers during prayer. Light strips run the length of the side beams to highlight the future bookshelves. We wanted to be innovative, so all of the interior power is provided from a solar power system.
Construction is nearly complete. In the next few weeks, we will install the flooring, build the bookshelves, and place the books. We plan to consecrate the space on May 19th.
So, what is next? By the end of March, each morning, Monday through Thursday, we will gather in the Oratory to pray the Liturgy of the Hours. All are welcome to join any or all of these prayers occurring at 6:30am, 7:30am, 9am, and noon.
The library will house about 500 volumes and be available for those who want to read and research spiritual studies. We are continuing to collect resources for various topics, including; Church History, Monastic Spirituality, Desert Fathers & Mothers, the Saints, Christian Art, Soul Care, Stephen Ministry, Missions, and Biblical Study Resources.
Every Wednesday evening at 6pm we celebrate the Eucharist. Several parishioners from Redeemer are currently joining us for this time of worship. You are also warmly invited.