Abbey News 

Meet the Abbey’s new CEO and Master of the Music

We are delighted to announce that the Trustees of Buckfast Abbey have appointed Philip Arkwright as Chief Executive Officer (on the right in the picture). Philip has been employed by the Abbey since 2013, most recently in the senior role of Strategic Operations Manager, having responsibility for the charitable and religious aspects of the Abbey. 

Throughout his time at the Abbey, Philip has worked closely with Fr Abbot and the Monastic Community on a number of exciting projects.  His appointment as CEO strengthens the Abbey’s commitment to place our core identity as a Roman Catholic Benedictine Monastery at the heart of our entire organisation – integrating our fundamental ethos and values into the financial and operational responsibilities which support our charitable aims. 

Commenting on his new role, Philip said: ‘‘Buckfast is an incredibly special place, a place which means so much to many people. It is both a privilege and an honour to serve the Monastic Community, the Abbey staff, and all our visitors in this leadership role. I joined the team at Buckfast nine years ago because I saw it as a place of opportunity, with so much potential to achieve great things – drawing upon the dedication, skill and expertise of monks and lay staff alike. I very much relish the opportunity to develop and grow our hospitality offering, which is so important to the Monastic Community, as well as strengthen our culture as an employer of choice in the region.’’ 

It is with great pleasure that we also announce the appointment of Matthew Searles as Master of the Music, following in Philip’s footsteps. In his new role, Matthew takes responsibility for all aspects of the liturgical and music life of the Abbey – an area of huge growth and output in the last decade.  The role of Master of the Music is integral to the daily life of the monastery, given that the daily Mass and Office is sung in its entirety. 

Matthew joined the Abbey in 2018 as Assistant Master of the Music, during which time he has founded and nurtured a choir of young choristers in collaboration with our primary school, St Mary’s. Matthew has been integral to the founding of the Abbey’s own record label Ad Fontes which has produced a number of high quality recordings of Roman Catholic Sacred music, to critical acclaim. 

Commenting on his appointment, Matthew said: “Music is the bedrock of Benedictine life at Buckfast, and we celebrate over a thousand years’ worth of Catholic musical heritage in this sacred place. In recent years, the Abbey has gained a recognised position in the wider musical world, and I look forward to building on this success as I lead the Abbey’s music in the years to come.”

The Rt Rev. David Charlesworth, Abbot of Buckfast, remarking on these important new appointments, said: “Both Philip and Matthew have worked extremely hard in the past years to establish a programme of national significance at Buckfast, putting the Abbey firmly on the map as a centre of liturgical and musical excellence. 

“We look forward with confidence and expectation as Philip steps into his new role as CEO, with Matthew leading the Abbey’s musical output in the years ahead. Both have impressed the Monastic Community by their enthusiasm, energy, and commitment over the years, and these appointments secure a bright future in the next phase of our development. 

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