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franciscan - January 2000

© The Society of Saint Francis, 1999

Community Routes

Cross of St Augustine

To the joy of all, Brother Edward was presented with the Cross of Saint Augustine, in a short ceremony in the Chapel of Lambeth Palace, along with five others, on 6 October 1999. This distinguished award, established by Archbishop Michael Ramsey in 1965 and presented to fewer than 150 people to date, is given ‘for long and exceptionally distinguished service within the Anglican Communion.’

In his citation, Archbishop Carey referred to Edward’s unbounded enthusiasm, his zeal for the gospel, his sense of fun and his ability to tell people how good the world is, which has offered an enormous amount to the Church of England and to God’s church as a whole. Mention was made of his work as a friar and a priest in encouraging the vocations in others, both to the Third Order of the Society and in awakening many to ordained ministry. We heartily congratulate him, and add our own thanks!

College of Evangelists

“And he gave some to be evangelists...” With this text from Saint Paul’s letter to the Ephesians the Archbishop of York began his stirring sermon at the inauguration of the College of Evangelists, an event which took place at Church House, Westminster, on 11 October 1999. The House of Bishops had decided to launch this new project. It has taken seven years to set it up, but the Archbishop said that this was fairly quick progress for the Church of England!

It is neither a building nor a training institution, but it provides a way for calling together a body of men and women who share in the spreading of the gospel beyond the confines of their own parishes and dioceses.
The Archbishop of Canterbury presided at the inaugural service and commissioned the first thirty members of the College, which included four brothers of SSF, namely Angelo, Bernard, Martin and Samuel.

The mandate for the establishment of the College ends with these words: “Our methods must stem from our conviction of the need to incarnate the Gospel that all of humanity is made in the image of God, with inherent value and dignity.”

First Order Chapter, Oz

Brother David Francis writes:

With our Ministers, Damian and Joyce, Samuel and I represented the Brothers and Chris and Gina the Sisters, of this Province at the First Order Chapter (FOC) in Brisbane, Australia. This is a meeting of the Ministers of the First Order, plus two representatives from each Province, held every three years. The FOC is a wonderful opportunity to share, albeit briefly, in the life and work of another Province and to meet with Brothers and Sisters from throughout the world.

This Chapter was held at St John’s Anglican College in the University of Queensland. It was particularly special because the Interprovincial Third Order Chapter (IPTOC) was also meeting there and we came together for a bible study, prayers and the Eucharist each day. We also spent two days in joint meetings, and were joined by local Tertiaries for the inauguration of Keith Slater as the new Minister General of the Third Order.

On our first evening, we were given a very warm Aboriginal welcome by Aunty Vi McDermott and friends, experiencing the delights of the didgeredoo and aboriginal dancing. This was followed by a buffet meal and an opportunity to get to know one another, including creating a human map when we were able to see just where SSF is in the world.

During the two days when the First and Third Orders met together we looked at experiences of God in our lives and at Australian Spirituality. We also looked at the ways in which we worked together, identifying many examples of our collaborative ministry and at how we could build on the progress so far.

For the rest of the time we met as separate Chapters and the FOC looked at ways in which we could “Build up each other in love”. We recognised that we were a fairly small group of Brothers and Sisters, spread thinly throughout the world, and were reminded that as followers of Francis we were called to work in small ways to further the work of God.

Justice & Peace Links

Sister Rowan Clare writes:

‘Peace be with you’. How often have you heard that without really taking it in? Yet for so many people, peace, justice and basic human rights are a distant dream. Many Christians would like to do more to help them become a reality, but aren’t sure where to start. There is so much need, it is easy to become discouraged and wonder what difference it will really make.

The Jubilee 2000 campaign is just one example of how ordinary people really can be heard. Jonathan and I, C/SSF Justice and Peace Links representatives, were among the tens of thousands forming a human chain in Cologne during the G8 summit last summer, together with several Tertiaries, Companions, and representatives of other communities, to encourage world leaders to reduce the stranglehold of debt. The Archbishop of Cologne reminded us that Christians may not call God ‘our Father’ unless they are willing to stand alongside their brothers and sisters in need. In October, I took part in the final leg of the Pilgrimage against Poverty, organised by Church Action on Poverty, which sought to highlight deprivation in Britain. The pilgrimage route, 670 miles in total from Iona to London, passed 11 C/SSF houses; a salutary reminder that while our poverty is chosen, many have no such freedom. On occasions like this, our habits can be a visible sign of the Church’s presence and our intimate connection as Franciscans with the whole of God’s suffering creation. As Justice and Peace Links, our rôle is to remind all Franciscans of that aspect of our calling.

Justice and Peace Links was set up in 1980, originally for members of Roman Catholic Religious Communities: C/SSF have been represented, along with other Anglican communities, since 1986. The Links pass on information and ideas to the rest of the community; we circulate petitions, encourage people to write letters, go to meetings or support initiatives with their prayer and activity. Many houses now have information points where guests, too, can find out more. Justice and Peace Links exist to make sure Religious Communities have a voice to speak out for the poor, the marginalised and the oppressed, and to make sure that the voice is heard where it matters.

ARC

In an effort to enable greater co-operation and communication between the different groups, Anglican Religious Communities in Europe (ARC) is in the process of development. Its aims are to be at the service of – and to represent and interpret Religious Life to – the Church and society, to support, encourage and challenge, and to promote communication, collaboration, co-operation and interaction between religious communities and to promote ecumenical relations and inter-faith dialogue, particularly among those living the Religious Life. Christine James CSF is the secretary of ARC until September 2000.

For more information about the different groups, see The Anglican Religious Communities Year Book (ARCYB) 2000-2001, published by Canterbury Press Norwich (ISBN 1853113190).

Religious in Romania

Brother Paschal writes:

I had the privilege of attending the Eleventh Congress of International Inter-confessional Religious. The Congress meets bi-annually: to foster mutual understanding of each other’s traditions; to create friendships between different Orders and Churches; and, through fidelity to our Lord from a Scriptural basis, to progress along the road towards Christian Unity. Seventy Religious from the Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Lutheran and Anglican traditions met at the foot of the holy mountain of Durau in Romania, where a youthful community of forty nuns had reclaimed their monastery following the fall of the Romanian communist regime.

The papers from different speakers centred round the theme of “Art and Liturgy as a Means of Cohesion and Unity”. Father George Guiver CR gave the Anglican contribution, which was very well received. For those of us who had very little experience of the Orthodox Liturgy, the paper on “The Mystery of Christ in Art and Liturgy”, given by Archbishop Daniel Ciobotea, was a profound gift, as we were taken into the faithfulness of Orthodoxy. A Lutheran Sister from Germany and a Belgium Benedictine presented the other ecumenical contributions.

Outside the main talks there were also opportunities to learn of the struggles of monastic life under Communist rule, as well as Ukranian culture and monasticism. However, the main ingredient of the Congress was the corporate ‘entry’ into the rich liturgical round of the Orthodox Church, where we recognised that we are already experiencing a real communion with each other, even if it is impaired. Nevertheless, during careful and polite discussions, there were moments when the serious obstacles to unity were faced.

I was able, along with Father Nicolas Stebbing CR, to visit other monasteries and Orthodox parishes before the Congress began. The welcome and hospitality shown became for me a “sacrament” of Christ’s presence.

The difference in culture and tradition between Religious Life in Eastern and Western Europe was clearly felt, but there, in the venerable monastic sites of Romania, a rich light of faith and practice both encouraged and judged my own religious life.
The often youthful monks and nuns, by their sheer faithfulness to God, reminded us of the priority of God over earthly preoccupations, and yet of how the missionary rôle of beauty and art and liturgy brought joy and resurrection too.
The contribution from the West, showing the social dimension from apostolic or mixed communities, encouraged (we hope) the new generation of monastics in Romania to see if such activities might be right or not within their own tradition.
The Congress, under the courteous care of Father Nicolas, now looks forward to ways in which Religious might meet locally and how individual “Covenant relationships” might be made between specific religious houses.
One of the ancient Orthodox titles for Romania is “The Garden of the Mother of God”. I indeed experienced this to be true.

SSF Edinburgh

The Brothers have served in various parts of Edinburgh since 1973 when the late Bishop Ken Carey invited SSF to share in the ministry at St David’s Church and the huge housing area around Pilton. More recently the Brothers have been located more centrally, to Lothian Road in the City Centre. At its recent Provincial Chapter, the Brothers have agreed to bring this work to an end, giving thanks to the Council of West End Churches for their generous accommodation at the Little Portion Friary. Kentigern John, a member of the General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church and also Youth Chaplain to the Diocese will continue to live at the Friary until June 2000 when it is planned that he will move to the Friary in Auckland, New Zealand for a twelve months’ placement.

The Society will be marking the closure of the House nearer the time, when the opportunity will be taken to give thanks to God and also to the many who have supported the Brothers and their ministry in prayer and practical support.

Round Up

Our novice brother Matthew Karosa died suddenly in Papua New Guinea on 8 September, aged 23 years.
Christopher John has arrived from Korea for an extended visit, which began with a period of study at the Franciscan Study Centre in Canterbury. The two novices of the Korean Franciscan Brotherhood are also visiting the Province for two months and will be staying in SSF houses ... James Edward and Athanasius have arrived to live at Hilfield.
David is on Leave of Absence.
Chad San Andres has withdrawn from the noviciate.
Simeon Christopher has been released from first vows.
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