Remote Monk Community Goes Online

Aug 5, 2008 7:51am

By Edward Wrong, ABC News London

Monks have lived on Caldey Island – a remote outpost three miles off the coast of Tenby, Wales – since the sixth century.

But it is only recently that they decided to move into the 21st century.

The 15 monks of the Cistercian order, who are the sole residents of the island, have grown tired of their slow dial-up Internet connection and have made the move to broadband.

"Patience is one of the characteristics of monastic life, but even the patience of the brothers was being tested by our slow dial-up Internet service," said Father Daniel, Abbot of Caldey Abbey, according to the BBC.

The monks had almost given up hope of establishing a direct broadband line to the island but, working with local telecom provider TFL Group, they are now able to receive wireless broadband from a tower on the mainland.

The self-sustaining community uses the Internet to advertise summer tourism and to run an online shop where they sell everything from chocolate bars to men’s aftershave – all made by the monks themselves. The site also takes prayer requests.

"Broadband access has made a huge difference to our Internet usage," Father Daniel said, according to the BBC.

"We knew we needed a faster connection, but we had almost given up trying to find a workable solution which would give us an Internet connection at speeds enjoyed by others on the mainland.”

"We have many plans to develop our commercial activities now that we have a modern, high-speed communications link," he said.

ABCNews.com tried to contact Father Daniel for an interview, but even with high-speed Internet he must be a bit behind on checking his e-mail. We are still waiting for a response.

The Cistercian Order – a stricter, more serious offshoot of the Benedictine Order – came to Caldey from Scourrmont Abbey in Belgium in 1929. They turned to selling perfumes and other products as an alternative source of income due to the difficulty in farming on the island.

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