franciscan - January 1999
© Society of Saint Francis, 1998
Nun so Brave
The media were attracted to the idea of a bunjee jumping nun and she was dubbed as ‘nun so brave’, but Sister Rose CSF was very clear that her effort was a fund raising charity event, and none were so brave as those who, with the help of the Kairos Community, got their lives together again after alcoholism and homelessness. So on Saint Francis day, Rose leapt from the three-hundred foot crane by Chelsea Bridge, London and raised well over £5000. Last year the Kairos Community purchased a house in Peckham, for the initial stage of their rehabilitation programme, which turned out to be a former home of the Brotherhood of the Holy Cross, whose remaining members became brothers of SSF in 1963 on the dissolution of BHC – a connection only discovered after Kairos had moved there.
The Mercy Center, Burlingame, California, just south of San Francisco, was the venue for the First Order Ministers’ Meetings this year. The Ministers discussed many issues, ranging from concerns about how to support and encourage each other in living our vocation, to the vowed life, to how the community might prepare for the new Millennium. In relation to the former, a paper for further discussion in houses in the Provinces was produced entitled Building up Each Other in Love; for the latter, Brother Colin Wilfred SSF had prepared an excellent booklet on the theme of jubilee, with material for twelve reflections, possibly monthly, which the members of the First Order will use.
There was also time for mutual support of each other and recreation. The sisters and brothers of the houses in San Francisco hosted a tea party on a Sunday afternoon which was attended by many local members of the Third Order ( including their Minister General Alden Whitney TSSF, from Connecticut, and Minister Provincial Anita Catron TSSF, from Utah) and friends from around the Bay Area. Some of the Ministers were able to visit the hermitage of Brother Leo Joseph OSF, Lake County, north of San Francisco, which is situated on the side of a mountain with picturesque views of the surrounding countryside.
It was with great sadness that the CSF European Provincial Chapter made the decision, after consultation with the sisters in New Zealand, to close the house in Auckland on 18 December. Sisters Phyllis and Maureen CSF expect to return to England in February 1999.
During the past twelve years, it has been a privilege and a joy for the sisters to meet up with people of faith up and down New Zealand; in local parishes, on pastoral visits, retreats, youth camps, parish family camps, quiet days and Franciscan celebration events. Often, they were involved in these activities in teams with the SSF brothers, with the Third Order and Companions. In their ministries they also received ministry and they give thanks for all who have contributed to their way of life in the Land of the Long White Cloud.
A large group of Tertiaries and Companions gathered at the home of Mrs Paddy Scott TSSF on 8 August to give thanks for the brothers’ and sisters’ houses in North Belfast, the former of which was finally returned to the Northern Ireland Housing Executive in January 1998. Brother Daniel, the SSF Minister General, presided at the eucharist and addressed those present, including Sister Chris James CSF and Brother Raymond Christian SSF. Brother Damian SSF, the Minister Provincial, announced that Brother David Jardine SSF had received this year’s Brotherhood Award from the Association of Religious Brothers in Ireland, for his work for peace and reconciliation – the first occasion that it has been awarded to an Anglican Religious. David Jardine continues to work with great energy and devotion amongst the various denominations in Ulster, basing his work at Divine Healing Ministries in offices adjacent to one of the old flash-points in Belfast. ‘Prayer remains the priority’, David Jardine constantly reminds his brothers, and he regularly organises daily prayer for the deepening of the peace in Ulster in Belfast’s Anglican Cathedral.
In November, Brother Damian SSF, bearing knitted socks and children’s soft toys supplied by well-wishers at Saint Francis Church, Gladstone Park, made his second visit to Bosnia. He stayed for a week with the OFM friars in Sarajevo. Brother Thomas Anthony SSF has been based there while he completes his two-year project for the Archbishop of Canterbury, in conjunction with a Mennonite aid worker and the local friars. The project, known as Voice to Voice, has formed a touring inter-faith choir, and is busily compiling a collection of positive stories (for publication) of courage and peace-making across the ethnic divide. The overall picture is one of reconstruction and repair to buildings and the basic utilities. The presence of the small, international community makes a positive contribution to the huge task of persuading people to return to their homes and to restore the multi-ethnic communities where possible. However, the post-war effort is simply enormous, complicated by the arrival of new Kosovo refugees. Amazingly, on his return home, Damian was introduced to another young person from Kosovo who had found a new home with the brothers at Plaistow!
Glasshampton at Eighty
The brothers celebrated the eightieth anniversary of the foundation of Glasshampton as a monastery on 26 November, with a Mass of Thanksgiving. Bishop Ronnie Bowlby TSSF was the preacher, Peter Selby, Bishop of Worcester, presided and the occasion was well supported by several communities from round about, as well as brothers and sisters, tertiaries and friends, giving thanks for its founder Father William Sirr of the Society of the Divine Compassion, who arrived there a week after the end of the Great War, and is buried in the monastery garth.
In October, Brother Tristam SSF was invited to share the pilgrimage, with Revd Dr Nigel Dent TSSF and his parish from Duston in Northampton, to Assisi. He writes:
‘The wonderful thing was how little the effects of the earthquake of a year ago is noticeable. Nearly all the pilgrim sites are re-opened, including the Basilica of Saint Clare, the Lower Basilica of Saint Francis (including the tomb), San Damiano, The Carceri, the Temple of Minerva, San Stefano, Chiesa Nuova and part of San Rufino Cathedral; though sadly Saint Mary of the Angels and the Upper Church at the Basilica of Saint Francis are likely to remain closed for some time.
As well as the devastation caused by the earthquake, the economy of the town is now severely threatened by the lack of pilgrims, presumably unsure about accommodation and maybe a little scared of a re-occurrence. I can only say that the group of pilgrims I was with had what we all felt was the most wonderful pilgrimage possible: we were able to enter virtually all the places we wanted to, unjostled, wonderfully welcomed and feeling ourselves to be true pilgrims.
One of the lovely things was the way even the damaged bits were supported with scaffolding made of black poles and brass fittings looking, to us, quite beautiful.
As Anglicans, we were welcomed to celebrate mass in many different Roman Catholic chapels: at La Verna, in the Chapel of the Stigmata; in the chapel in Greccio, where Francis first introduced the crib at Christmas; with the Brigittine Sisters, where we were staying. If you have the opportunity to visit Assisi, this is the perfect time to go.’
Chad San Andres has moved from Birmingham to Edinburgh;
Christopher, Martin Philip & Oswin Paul have moved from Glasshampton to Birmingham; David Alban has moved from Hilfield to Glasshampton;
David Francis has moved from Edinburgh to Alnmouth;
James Anthony is now living and working in Tanzania;
Jason Robert is on sabbatical and is based in in the Edinburgh Friary;
Jude moved from the UK to San Francisco in October;
Maureen moves from Auckland to Newcastle-under Lyme in February;
Nolan Tobias has moved from Edinburgh to Stepney;
Phyllis moves from Auckland to Compton Durville in February;
Simeon Christopher is on Leave of Absence;
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