Press Release: Friars move back into Monastery

[email protected]

Contact:Michael Dolan Director of Communications Augustinian Friars, Province of Saint Thomas of Villanova P.O. Box 340 Villanova, PA 19085-0340

Phone: 610-527-3330 ext. 248 Fax: 610-520-0618 E-mail: [email protected]: www.augustinian.org

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Friars move back to their new home;Architecture of renovated monastery reflects way of life

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEJanuary 13, 2005

Villanova, PA – After two years of renovations, Saint Thomas of Villanova Monastery on the campus of Villanova University is once again home to a community of Augustinian friars. During the first two weeks of January, 57 Augustinians moved back to a monastery with a whole new look.

Two years of extensive renovations have turned Saint Thomas of Villanova Monastery into a building that actually reflects the Augustinian way of life. More than simply bringing the aged building into compliance with current building codes, the renovation took the Augustinian value of community and architecturally designed it into the monastery.

To that end, the monastery now has a common room, dining room and a new glass chapel all centered together, enhancing and encouraging a way of life that emphasizes community.

“Augustinians are about community,” says Father Donald Reilly, O.S.A., Prior Provincial of the Province of Saint Thomas of Villanova. “We find God through others, and renovating the monastery with this in mind is a testament to the value we place on our way of live.”

And with a new glass chapel facing the heart of Villanova University’s campus, Fr. Reilly thinks others will see that value as well. “We’ve taken a building that was shrouded in mystery by its very design and turned it into a welcoming home where others are invited to both witness and share in our way of life.”

The new chapel allows students and faculty to see friars at prayer as they go about their campus routine. The Augustinians see this as the best marketing tool there is.

“Thousands of students will walk by that chapel every day,” says Fr. Reilly. “They’ll see friars at prayer, and they’ll realize there is value in this way of life. It’s a wonderful way to promote our way of life to a generation that is seeking a deeper sense of spirituality in their lives.”

The Augustinian-influenced architecture is also prominent in the second floor of the monastery, which houses a residential care center that will provide comprehensive health care to aging and infirm friars. Rather than outsource the care of its friars, the Province of Saint Thomas of Villanova has made a deliberate choice to create a residential care center that will allow friars to continuing living in community with one another for as long as possible.

Says Father Bill Donnelly, O.S.A., who headed up the renovation project for the Province, “The residential care center allows us to care for our own, and that has immense value to us as Augustinians.”

While the monastery community has moved back to their home, some exciting work on the building is still underway. A new “Heritage Room” will soon give visitors the opportunity to learn the history of the Augustinians and Villanova University, and a new “Augustinian Way of Life Center” will provide students and others with the opportunity to learn about the Augustinians’ volunteer program, religious vocations, and more.

To help fund the renovation, the Province of Saint Thomas of Villanova has embarked on a $25 million campaign which they are calling “Embracing the Future….” Half the funds raised will go toward the monastery renovations, while the other half will help create endowments for: care of the elderly; Augustinian missions; the Augustinian Volunteers program; and education, formation and vocation efforts.

For more information, 610-527-3330 or www.augustinian.org.

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Digital photos for this story are available by calling 610.527.3330 ext. 248 or e-mailing [email protected]

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The Augustinians of the Province of Saint Thomas of Villanova are Roman Catholic priests and brothers following the Rule of Saint Augustine. They serve in a variety of ministries along the East Coast, including work in parishes and schools, and have missions in Peru, South Africa, and Japan.

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