Monday, 21 March 2011

Kristo Buase - Ghana

I found myself rather fortunate to be able to visit Kristo Buase, a dependant house of the English Province of the Subiaco Congregation, on two occasions in the past.  The monastery was jointly founded  in 1989 by Prinknash, Pluscarden and St. Augustine's Abbeys.  Although a joint foundation  and canonically under Prinknash, the monastery has, of late, been reliant on monks from Pluscarden.  Fr Ambrose was there for some time but unfortunately suffered several serious illnesses one of which required several months recuperation in more favourable climes.  Not for nothing is Africa known as the white man's graveyard!  Fr Ambrose is now Procurator General of the Congregation and a member of it's curia based in Rome.

The current prior is Fr Giles of Pluscarden and, if rumours reaching me are correct, he may be joined  later this year by Fr Bede, another Scotsman from Pluscarden Abbey - by way of St Mary's Petersham in the USA  (a daughter house of Pluscarden), where he has spent the past few years.

Traffic Holdup
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A road market starts during a traffic hold up.
Kristo Buase means "Christ in the Rocks" and is situated in Northern  part half of Ghana just a few kilometres north of Techiman a major town in the Brong Ahafo region.  I travelled from Accra the Capital of Ghana located in the south of the country; the first part by air to Kumasi (the heartland of the Ashanti tribe), then taxi the second time driven the whole way by a fellow oblate (of Kristo Buase) named Benedictus in a hired car.  This took us approximately 14 hours arriving at Kristo Buase just after Vespers.  By this time my 'derrière' was rather numb having travelled over some unpaved roads (nigh on dirt tracks) for some time.

Frs. Ambrose and Giles made us most welcome as did all the community and we quickly settled in for our retreat after a health and safety briefing - mandatory use of mosquito nets and what to do in the event of an armed robber attack - yes it has happened on more than one occasion.

I felt immediately at home and quickly fell back into the rhythm of Benedictine life - ora et labora, here as at any monastic community.  In choir the main difference was that the office is sung in English rather than Latin but thankfully with no frozen, high vaulted ceiling stone church robbing the voice and body of warmth.

Fellow Oblate Benedictus reads the lesson
Benedictus reads the first lesson at Sunday Mass
The monastery cultivates cashew nuts as a cash crop (so who said money does not grow on trees?).  On my first visit Fr Ambrose kept pigs but that did not last for long.  Food is simple and national dishes the norm.  Thankfully having spent a few years living in Africa my stomach has learned to accept such fare.  Poor Fr Giles has yet to reach that stage.  When I saw him last at Pluscarden he looked decidedly thin.

Fond memories of a lovely small community, not without its trials, but full of trust in the Lord.

A Cheery Cheerio
A fond farewell from two of the best dressed monks in Africa !
See some more photos HERE

1 comment:

  1. Hello, I have been there in march 2011.
    Ambiance was a bit weird and people with a little lack of warmness sometimes, as I was maybe disturbing spiritual plans (I am atheistic)! But they were respectfull, and give me access to their fabulous library for my research on the asante history. The monastery is definitly a very good place to rest and work in a quiet mood. It is also one of the most beautifull place I know in Ghana!I will alway remember my 3 days in Kristo Buase, and I hope I will come back with better conditions (more things to offer to the community). Thanks for your article.
    Guillaume, Paris, France.