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franciscan - May 2000

© Copyright, The Society of Saint Francis, 2000

Community Routes

African Safari

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.

Korean Advent

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.

Primary Task

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.

Poor Clares of Reparation

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.

Round Up

Philip Bartholomew was elected Guardian of Hilfield Friary, with effect from Pentecost 2000, when Brother Samuel's maximum term of office expires.
On 25 March, Christopher, Martin Philip and Oswin Paul made their professions in first vows at Hilfield Friary.
Seraphim made his profession in life vows on 28 March at St Alban’s Church, Holborn.
Jason expects to make his profession in life vows at Hilfield Friary on 12 May.
In February, Elizabeth moved to Newcastle-under-Lyme, Maureen to Birmingham, and Jennie to Compton Durville ... Austin and Nicholas Alan have moved from Glasshampton to a former vicarage in the Sheffield Diocese to continue the House for Contemplative Living project.
Matthew has been granted Leave of Absence with effect from 1 March.
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