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franciscan - January 1997

© The Society of Saint Francis, 1996

Community Routes

St Francis Gladstone Park

Plans for Damian, Angelo, Peter Douglas and Tristam to move into the former vicarage of St Francis Church, Gladstone Park (in the Willesden Green part of north London) took a further step forward in November when the London Diocese gave its formal approval to the invitation of Father Scott Anderson, the Rector of the parish of which St Francis is a part. At the time of going to press, most of the brothers hope to arrive in the new year. The move for Damian and Angelo from Scunthorpe to London will provide a more accessible provincial office, while Peter Douglas is to give part-time assistance in the local parishes. Tristam hopes to arrive soon after Easter. This will be an opportunity to strengthen the Franciscan witness in the Metropolis but it is also specifically intended that we try to live out the ‘two integrity’ situation of our Community and of our Church in the context of a parish aligned to the ‘Forward in Faith’ movement. The Diocese of London has offered the property to SSF on a rent-free, cost-free basis for five years.

Scunthorpe

The Scunthorpe friary closed in December 1996 after thirteen fruitful and happy years. For it was in January 1984, that Brothers Anselm and Christopher took up residence there. The Wantage Sisters had then recently left Lincoln, and the Bishop invited SSF. to open the house in order for there to be an Anglican Religious Community in the Diocese.

Scunthorpe became an administrative centre for our Community, with the Minister Provincial living there, first Anselm (1984-92) and then Damian (1993- ). Opportunities for local ministry soon emerged and brothers became engaged in a variety of work. Cuthbert was involved with youth clubs, and Gordon with the disabled. Martin became heavily involved in S. Hugh’s church and parish, doing some teaching at a school in Brigg and from 1993 being chaplain of a new hospice for cancer patients. Other brothers based at the house have been Jonathan, Gregory, Harry, Hubert and Angelo, who have pursued a range of ministries.

Degree of Distinction

Alistair has distinguished himself in completing his doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of East Anglia at Norwich. Not only has he passed his placements in five different fields (children, adults, the elderly, psychotherapy and learning disabilities), he has also been awarded a distinction for his thesis. The subject of his research was ‘early warning signs in manic depressive illness’ and his examiners have urged him to publish parts of it. So his is an impressive achievement.

Alistair starts a new job in January, working part-time as a clinical psychologist in Cambridge. He will also spend one day a week working in the Psychotherapy Department at Addenbrooke’s Hospital.

United we stand

What is it that holds together our four First Order Provinces of SSF: small in numbers and yet dispersed over vast distances? Prayer, yes; exchange of brothers and sisters; and, very importantly, the triennial First Order Chapters which met at Hilfield at the end of August 1996.

It is in the developing world that the churches are growing; it is in the tired, rich world that the forces of materialism and the fallacies woven for us by a successful technology are arrayed against Christian faith. This is reflected even within the tiny Society of Saint Francis, spread world-wide. So, the provinces of SSF represented at Hilfield were variously young and growing fast (Pacific Islands), or older and sometimes struggling (European, American, Australia/New Zealand). The experience of those few days together gave the lie to any superficial estimate of our condition, based simply on the statistics – for we discovered among ourselves faith, hope and love in no small measure, and a realisation that each province needs the others. Perhaps those among us who hold the key to our future are not so much the holders of high office, as those who in the following of the Franciscan vocation find themselves living, praying and working for the Kingdom in a culture not their own.

Our Man in Bosnia

Thomas Anthony spends much of his time in Eastern Europe: from January till Easter in 1996, he was in Bucharest looking after the Anglican chaplaincy there during their interregnum. In May, he went to Sofia with the unique mission to see whether the Diocese of Europe should send a permanent, resident chaplain. He spent five months there trying to build up a congregation. The result is that a chaplain will be appointed soon.

Later this winter, Tom expects to go to Sarajevo. He spent much of 1995 travelling in Bosnia-Herzegovina but is returning there to be part of a peace-making programme under the auspices of OFM, our Roman Catholic Franciscan brothers. Tom will be there for most of the year (but please continue to send any mail through the Plaistow house address).

PNG Report

Brother Laurence writes from Siomoromoro, Goroka, Papua New Guinea:

“Since the brothers left Nambayufa to come and live at St Francis Church compound, some local people have offered us land about an hour’s walk from Goroka town and a small hut for four brothers to live in.

The problem is that four brothers in such a small place makes us feel like bats in a cave! So we set to and have built a slightly larger house, where we can live and sleep, study and pray, work and relax.

As Franciscans, trying to live the vow of poverty, life is a real challenge to us here at Siomoromoro: we have to live a simple life in a simple building, but then so do all our neighbours!

The brothers engage in many differing ministries and shared responsibilities but the main work the church asks of us is with youths and children – since more than half the population is aged under fifteen years, that is a great task. We have no resident priest here, so we all only have communion once a month, but we rely on the wider church for prayer: in that, we know we have a real sense of communion with all God’s people.”

New Ministry

Alan was ordained deacon by the Bishop of Newcastle at All Saints’, Gosforth, on 29 September 1996. He is working as a curate in the parish of Christ Church, Walker, and is staying with the Sisters of the Assumption, who have a house in the area. SSF has been invited to lead an ecumenical mission for that area in 1998, in which both the Anglican parish and the Roman Catholic sisters will be much involved, along with the other main churches of Walker.

Zimbabwe

Geoffrey has returned to the UK from Zimbabwe and is presently based at Hilfield. His permissions to stay as a ‘visitor’ in Zimbabwe, which he had been renewing with the immigration authorities, were finally cancelled and he arrived in Britain on 25 November. The Community of the Divine Compassion at St Augustine’s Mission, Penhalonga will now very seriously move into a new phase of its life after ten years of careful and dutiful nurturing by Geoffrey. With three professed African friars and four in the noviciate, the Community has a promising future. Damian visited Zimbabwe very recently and conducted their annual retreat at Chokwa, for which they were joined by Roger Alexander. CDC and SSF are linked by a Covenant through the SSF Minister General and Benedict SSF continues to live alongside the Community as the local parish priest. The brothers continue a fairly active, pastoral ministry in the mission school and the surrounding villages.

Tertiaries, due South

Along with John Sentamu, the new Bishop of Stepney, Tristam represented the Archbishop of Canterbury at a conference in November in South Africa, on inculturation in the liturgy .

As a result he was able beforehand to visit members of the Third Order in Capetown and Johannesburg, discovering from them the richness of their vocation as followers of the little poor man of Assisi. Many groups meet monthly and have a real sense of community spirit and mutual support, travelling huge distances so as to join together in christian fellowship.

Leo House, Hilfield Friary

The Community at Hilfield hope to start renovations of the ’sixties building known as Leo House, at the heart of the Friary. The building houses the Friary Library and an Arts and Crafts workshop downstairs, together with a large common room used both by the community and by groups visiting for day conferences. Upstairs there are five bedrooms and another sitting room, for the use of Friary residents.

The brothers had hoped to begin the task in early 1997, and are certain that the work will still go ahead, but increasing costs have put some of their plans beyond their financial grasp and, along with others in these straitened times, will have to ‘cut their cloth’ accordingly.

However, guests and visitors will still be most welcome, but if you plan coming to use the Guest House, the guest brother asks that you do book well in advance, as the Friary will be down by five rooms for the period of renovation and other rooms may be required for storage.

The community at Hilfield hopes that you will bear with them patiently during this time and looks forward to the day when all the renovations will be completed – at the moment, is seems to them rather like painting the Forth Road Bridge: no sooner does one work end than another begins.

Leo SSF, RIP

Brother Leo died on the feast of All Saints’ in San Francisco. He was aged eighty four and in the sixty-third year of his profession in vows. Brother Justus Richard writes:

While still a teenager Leo went to Little Portion Friary to test his vocation with the Order of St. Francis. He was made a postulant on Christmas Day 1932 and clothed as a novice the following June. He made his first profession on 18 August 1934 but had to wait until he was thirty years old to take perpetual vows, which he did in October 1940.

As a lay brother, he never held a leadership position in the Order of St. Francis but after the amalgamation of OSF and SSF he briefly served as Guardian of Little Portion, but much preferred the life of quiet, humble service and prayer that he was accustomed to. He not only cared for his brothers, but also never turned away any of God’s hungry creatures. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.

Roundup

Chad San Andres, Nicholas Alan and Robert Smart have moved to Glasshampton ... Kevin has moved to Birmingham ... Nolan Tobias has moved to Edinburgh ... Philip and Desmond Alban have moved to Alnmouth ... David has moved to Hilfield ... Hugo has moved to Glasshampton ... Simeon Christopher is on an inter-Provincial move to the Pacific Province for one year ... Jonathan is similarly resident in the American Province for six months ... Kate has returned to Compton Durville after a year on Leave.
Hilary has been appointed Assistant Minister Provincial and Helen Julian the Provincial Novice Guardian of CSF.
Nathanael has been co-opted as a member of the Governing Body of the Church in Wales (the equivalent of the Church of England’s General Synod).
Daniel has been appointed the Assistant Minister General, succeeding Robert Hugh last September.
Peter has been granted Leave of Absence.
Antony Theodore and Nicholas Bird have withdrawn from the noviciate
. §

 

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