Lluc.Antoni Vallespir is to become the new prior at Lluc monastery next week, replacing Jaume Reynes.
There are times when religious orders are popular and prosperous and other eras when they are in decline, said Vallespir yesterday. When church property was being sold off, Lluc monastery went through a period of crisis rather like that being seen in Spain at the moment.
Workers were entitled to a salary but the growing population meant that there were numbers of people who were prepared to do work on a voluntary basis, explained Vallespir, and Lluc has always enjoyed that spirit of charity shown by local people.
A resident religious order, Missioners dels Sagrats Cors, was founded at the monastery by Father Joaquim Rosselló i Ferrà in 1891 but 121 years later, the social, ecclesiastical and economic climate is radically different. With no new generation filling the places of aging monks and nuns, there are now just seven brothers belonging to the order at Lluc. The management of the monastery buildings and the running of the choir is undertaken by lay staff on a contract basis. Responding to criticism over the imposition of a 4 euro parking charge in the monastery car park, Vallespir said that measures had to be taken to ensure the survival of the premises and were instigated with the knowledge and approval of the Bishop of Majorca, Jesús Murgui and heads of the Balearic government and Council of Majorca. Improving facilities for visitors, said the new prior, is a turning point in the history of the monastery to ensure it remains economically viable. It was the outgoing prior Jaume Reynes who made history by allowing girls into the famous, previously all male blauets choir school.