Council gives green-light for Benedictine monastery in Tasmania

A Tasmanian local council has approved a development application for a Benedictine monastery to be built at Colebrook, the ABC reports.

It will include a renovation of Hardwick House at Colebrook, as well as the building of 18 prefabricated single-dorm units, known as "cells", to accommodate resident monks on the more than 1,000-square-metre property.

A weatherboard church currently in St Leonards will also be relocated to the property.

The site of the new Tasmanian Benedictine monastery (Photo: Notre Dame Priory)

The site of the new Tasmanian Benedictine monastery (Photo: Notre Dame Priory)

Southern Midlands Mayor Alex Green said the approval was not straightforward due to a lack of detail around religious structures in the current planning laws, but was permitted based on a number of performance criteria.

"For the vast majority of the property, it'll continue being used for agricultural activity such as sheep grazing and cropping," Mr Green said.

The monastery, known as the Notre Dame Priory, will be home to seven monks, as well as their Prior, American-born Father Pius Mary Noonan.

Archbishop Julian Porteous invited Fr Noonan to lay roots in Tasmania, and he obliged.

"In the monastic tradition they do try to find a place that is peaceful, that is beautiful, that has natural capacities to foster a life of prayer and reflection" Archbishop Porteous said.

"I thought Colebrook and the Coal River Valley was perfect for such a monastic establishment."

Inside the monastery, the monks will live a simple existence with a focus on humility and worship.

"The monks are dedicated to two things — prayer and work," Archbishop Porteous said.

As it stands, no Tasmanians are living at the monastery, but Archbishop Porteous hopes the council decision will lead to locals opting in to the monastic way of life.

"It seems such a strange thing these days, but it's always been the case that there are people who choose to devote their lives completely to matters of the spirit and to living a life that is oriented around their faith in God."

To see the full ABC News report, ‘Benedictine order to set up monastery for agriculture and prayer outside Hobart’ by reporter Chris Rowbottom click here.