Brother Cassian Maria Aylward, 28, a native of Sydney, Australia, pronounced his first vows as a Benedictine monk at Silverstream Priory, Stamullen, County Meath, on Saturday, 13 January 2018, Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.

The profession took place during Holy Mass in the Oratory of the Priory. Dom Mark Kirby, O.S.B., Conventual Prior, received, for a period of three years, Brother Cassian’s vows of stability, conversion of manners, and obedience, as set forth in the Rule of Saint Benedict.

Brother Cassian, the son of Diane and Paul Aylward, and the brother of Matthew and Luke Aylward, is the great–grandson of the noted Australian classicist, Catholic apologist, poet, and Papal Knight, Dr Frank J. H. Letters. Brother Cassian, a 2007 graduate of St Paul’s Catholic College, Manly, holds a degree in education from Notre Dame University, Sydney. Brother Cassian currently serves as the monastery’s guestmaster.

In his homily for the occasion, Dom Kirby said:

Why did you leave your father and your mother, and your brothers, Matt and Luke, and your dear grandparents, and your all mates in Australia? Why did you leave the sunshine and sparkling waves of the beaches of Sydney for this darkling east coast of Ireland? Why did you forsake the opportunities offered you by the world to travel the globe to this place, coming to this day, and to this hour?

You did it because, like John the Baptist in today’s Gospel, you saw Jesus coming towards you. “John saw Jesus coming towards him” (John 1:29). To those who ask you, “But why a monk?” you can answer only this: “I saw Jesus coming towards me”. There is no other explanation for the profession of the three vows of stability, conversion of manners, and obedience that you are about to make. . . . In making your monastic profession today, know this: in the hours, and days, and months, and years that lie ahead of you, there will not be a single moment when Jesus is not coming towards you. And should anyone, intrigued, or bewildered, or fascinated by the choice you have made, ask you why you became a monk, give them the only answer possible, the one answer intelligible, even to the littlest souls: “I saw Jesus coming towards me”.

On February 3, 2018 Seth Borders, a 27 year old computer programmer from Ypsilanti, Michigan, was clothed in the Benedictine habit at Silverstream Priory in County Meath today, becoming Brother Thomas Aquinas. The son of Stephen and Ann Borders, Brother Thomas Aquinas is the youngest of six children. He graduated in 2012 from Kettering University with a degree in Computer Engineering. As a novice at Silverstream Priory, Brother Thomas Aquinas will learn to live the 6th century Rule of Saint Benedict in 21st century Ireland. A lover of music and enthusiast of Gregorian Chant, the new novice happily sings in the monastic choir, spending five to six hours a day in prayer. At other times Brother Thomas Aquinas can be found working on the land, serving in the monastery kitchen, or applying his technological skills to the monastery’s website and podcasts.