By Antoine Lokongo
MONKS AT Ealing Abbey have elected a new leader following the resignation of their abbot earlier this year.
Newly elected Dom Martin Shipperlee, 41, who took over from Abbot Laurence Soper who resigned on account of his ill-health, said that his election by the 22-member assembly came as a surprise.
But he said he saw his new role as one of "building a strong community of these men as well as to help our school communities, the parish community of Ealing Abbey and everyone associated to it either by way of work or regular visits, in their vocation to find God".
Fr Shipperlee said: "The charism of English Benedictines has always been education, contemplation and pastoral activities. This is the tradition that defines us and while remaining faithful to it, we have to find a balance between those three aspects of our life."
The new Abbot said that Ealing Abbey faced not only a crisis of vocations but also the challenge of answering vital questions in a life of a monk in the modem world.
"The role of the Abbot today is to help his fellow monks to look freshly at our vocation and tradition and to find ways of how we can still continue to do greater good to the life of the Church and to all people to whom we come into contact with," he said.
"A community flourishes if it stays faithful to its tradition as well as listening to the scriptures, to others in the Church and in the world, reading the signs of times through events.
"Our survival will largely depend on the skill we have in answering the questions that we face in modem times as individuals and as a community."
Born in 1959, Dom Martin grew up in Essex. He read history at University College London, and theology at Heythrop College, London. He joined the Benedictine monastery at Ealing in 1981 where he was ordained priest.
He taught at St Benedict School and became the independent junior parish school's headmaster from 1993 until recently.
Since January this year, Dom Martin Shipperlee has been a member of the Parish Team at Ealing Abbey.