THE BENEDICTINES are pulling out of a Somerset parish after nine years.
St Michael's Church, Shepton Mallet, has been served by Fr Luke Bell, a monk of Downside Abbey, near Bath, but will now be handed back to the Diocese of Clifton.
Fr Bell, a former English teacher, is leaving the parish to spend between four and six months at the Benedictine Quarr Abbey, the Isle of Wight.
His time there will be a "period of discernment" to see if he is suited to the "more contemplative life" of the abbey.
La Retraite Sisters Angela Denore and Mary Garvey are withdrawing from St Michael's at the same time.
Abbot Richard Yeo of Downside, said: "I think the parishioners are sad to see Fr Luke go, which is what I would expect. It's a tribute to him."