A Pirate Spirituality

What is Pirate Monks?

November 2023, update from Kerry Dixon

We started Pirate Monks nearly seven years ago because, I don’t know if you know, but the drug figures of Scotland have come out and Dundee still has the highest drug related death rate per capita in Europe… And pretty much all of those who come to us, whether to Pirate Monks or Pirate Nuns, have a serious mental health issue.  

Depression, anxiety, schizophrenia or hearing voices, as they would call it. So, they go to the mental health services, and if they’re using drugs, the services say, ‘we can’t treat you until you’re clean because we can’t give you very powerful drugs on top of other drugs’. However, the drug services then say, ‘but you’re mentally ill’, and so they struggle to get the support that they need.

We’re called Pirate Monks because on one hand, their lives haven’t changed. They’re still dealing with their addictions, broken relationships, and some with crime. Yet, at the same time we’re seeking a connection with God.

SafeguarDing for christmas

Right now, we’re working with the guys to Christmas proof them because it’s a really dangerous time. Most of their relationships are broken and have fallen apart. They won’t see their children, their mums, dads, brothers, or sisters, they’ll be alone.  

When everyone else is focused with significant others in their life, they have no one, and that’s when the guilt and the loneliness becomes very real. So, we just try to talk that through with them, and look at how we can support them through this season.

Our Annual Retreat

We’ve just been away on our annual weekend retreat! It’s a mixture of fun things and sitting around the table and eating – though I once gave them pizza with onion on it and they refused to eat it! It’s not easy, we’re in the middle of nowhere, with people with addictions and mental health, so you have to keep doing head counts! 

But the crux of the weekend is Saturday night when we worship together and invite the Holy Spirit to come and meet with us. Experiencing God is so powerful. It’s what changes everything. 

We have one young guy with a gambling addiction who sadly has nobody in his life. What’s amazing is he gave his life to Christ and we’re beginning to talk to him about baptism(!), and he was so excited about going away with us, because he doesn’t ever go away, and whilst we were away, we celebrated his birthday! 

Three baptisms

There’s three of them that want to be baptised! Which is always significant. I hope to tell you more about that next time! 

I think the most positive thing is that the guys always want to come to Pirate Monks. For a lot of them it’s the highlight of their week. A number of them also choose to come to our very traditional midweek communion. Which is a such a bizarre thing! It happens in the main part of the church whilst people are visiting the food and clothes bank! So, we’re performing communion and having this holy moment whilst people are choosing clothes and waiting for a cup of tea!  

Our Dundee Centre of Mission runs a subsidised café, foodbank, clothing bank and recovery group. At Christmas they’ll provide Christmas dinners and presents to those in their community struggling either with poverty and/or loss.