franciscan - May 2000
© Copyright, The Society of Saint Francis, 2000
Brother John Francis writes:
Boundless skies and lush vegetation, veldt stretching farther than the eye can see, cyclones, political crises, huge wealth and vast areas of intense poverty. Southern Africa has it all, and more. For three months I visited Third Order groups in South Africa and Zimbabwe and spent time with the Community of the Divine Compassion at Penhalonga, following a pattern of visits made by Brother Damian SSF last year.
Apart from my time with Third Order groups I preached in a number of places, and visited a wide range of social
projects talking with many people working in the field of human and community development. I explored current political
and social issues learning about the effects of AIDS on up to 40% of the population and the problem of violence
and high unemployment in townships. The legacy of centuries of inhumanity in South Africa will take years to resolve.
Zimbabwe was suffering from a fuel crisis and the government was under pressure to resign. Often it felt as if
parallel universes were operating – one white, the other black – and whilst segregation is over, these worlds rarely
seemed to connect. Do remember the needs of this region in your prayers.
Between December and February Brothers Christopher John SSF and Stephen and Lawrence of
the Korean Franciscan Brotherhood were touring the UK, visiting a variety of friaries and other Anglican
Religious communities. To enable the Korean brothers to see at first hand the variety of expressions of Religious
Life, they visited SSF friaries ranging from Hilfield to Glasgow, Benedictine houses (Elmore and Burford) as well
as the Community of the Resurrection and the Community of the Servants of the Will of God. They could easily have
been overwhelmed by the experience (4000 miles, twelve different communities) but they found the common features
such as prayer and hospitality a source of continuity. Stephen’s impressions are of great appreciation of the simple
life and the warm hospitality in all the communities we visited. Lawrence noticed the great variety in forms of
Religious Life in such things as prayer style and dining arrangements. He commented on church members at worship
as participating with quietness and politeness. And as for English winter weather? “Compared with Korea it’s not
cold but very rainy, windy and cloudy.” Christopher John found being a guest a real sabbatical experience and jokingly
is offering to prepare a comparative guide to Religious guest houses of the UK.
Sister Nan writes:
“Miss, Miss, Mii...iiii..ss”, is the sound above all other sounds of my job. I work part-time in a Primary School in Balham. It is a bus ride and a fifteen minutes walk away from our house in Brixton. I do three jobs really: I’m a Primary Helper in the morning in Reception; at 11.30 I go and have lunch with the others and turn into a “dinner lady”; after the lunch break, which I help to supervise, I go to the Junior Department and give extra help to two children in their classes. It is great to be back working with children and I really enjoy the variety. At the beginning of the current year we had sixteen different home languages in the school, so there are a large variety of cultures present, too. The school isn’t a Church School and that makes quite a difference, as I haven’t been out of ‘church culture’ very often since I joined the community. I love it! I also thoroughly enjoy the different groups of which I am a part. The whole ethos of the school is inclusive and welcoming to parents, children, staff and helpers alike. They seem to enjoy their token ‘nun’. I am so lucky to have found a job which is so worthwhile, fulfilling for me, and also helping to generate some income for the community.
Encouraging Local Evangelism
Brother Desmond Alban has been part of a small team, led by Stephen Cottrell and James Lawrence of Springboard,
training members of churches in the Chelmsford diocese in evangelism. The focus of the training was preparation
for local Mission Weekends, during the first weekend in April, run by each of the twenty or thirty churches involved.
Members of the team led various practical workshops at two training days, held in a secondary school in the diocese
in October and February. During the April weekend itself they visited some of the churches on request, to speak
or to help in other ways, though the events were mostly run by the local Christians themselves.
Sister Mary Dorothea (Eleanor Marguerite Annis) died on 29 January 2000. She was aged eighty-three years
and in the twenty-eighth year of her Religious profession. Mary Dorothea was the last surviving sister of the Order
of Poor Clares of Reparation. As she is remembered for her gentleness and firm faith, the Society of Saint Francis
gives thanks for all that the P.C.Rep. sisters gave, by their lives and quiet witness, to the Episcopal Church
in the United States of America and to our American Province.
Philip Bartholomew was elected Guardian of Hilfield Friary, with effect from Pentecost 2000, when Brother
Samuel's maximum term of office expires.
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