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franciscan - September 2000

© The Society of Saint Francis, 2000

Community Routes

Compton profile

Sister Helen Julian writes:

‘Raising our profile’ was the theme of Pentecost weekend for the sisters at Compton Durville. On Saturday, Open Day drew a small but enthusiastic group to share the house and garden for the afternoon, and to join in a celebration eucharist with the Bishop of Taunton. We were glad to welcome some new visitors as well as many familiar faces, and grateful to the local Third Order for providing a delicious tea.

Then on Sunday almost the whole household spent the day at Pentecost 2000 in Yeovil, with around 3,500 people from many church communities in South Somerset and North Dorset. We ran the prayer tent, and had a stall with displays showing something of our history and what we have to offer now. Many people stopped to talk and took away leaflets. We enjoyed sharing in the worship, the seminars, and simply the sense of celebration, and we hope to benefit in the future from a greater awareness of our existence, our facilities here at Compton, and our availability to undertake engagements in the area.

The Hermitage

Brother Nicholas Alan writes:

At the end of March 2000, Brother Austin and I moved from Glasshampton to a small village called Burghwallis, just north of Doncaster in South Yorkshire, to set up a house for contemplative living to be known simply as ‘The Hermitage’. The Bishop of Sheffield had offered the use of the rectory to SSF to be a praying presence in the diocese, and the parish and diocese have warmly welcomed us, making us feel quickly at home.

The pattern of our life has been much as it was at Compton Durville during our six-month stay there in the summer of 1999. The day revolves around a seven-fold office, based on The Daily Office SSF, with additional prayer times morning and evening. We have a small chapel in the house, but go over to the medieval church next door to sing Evening Prayer each day.
This project has been brought into existence under the particular guidance of Brother Ramon, and it has been a great sadness for us, as for so many, to lose his companionship along the way. Still, we hope in our own way to maintain a visible expression of the call of God to loving attentiveness in prayer, that from this source all our community life may flow.

Roman holiday

Sister Gina writes:
In April two sisters (myself and Hilary) and three brothers (Jonathan, Jason and Philip Bartholomew) were fortunate enough to be able to take up a generous invitation from the Roman Catholic Friars of the Atonement in Rome to share in an ecumenical Franciscan conversation to celebrate the Jubilee Year. We were joined by a Lutheran Franciscan sister from Sweden and a Spanish Reformed Church member of a Franciscan ecumenical fraternity from Seville, Spain.

We visited Rome, Greccio, Venice and Padua. In each place we shared meals and conversation with Roman Catholic Franciscans and explored the themes of pilgrimage, prayer, foundations and mission together.

The visit really brought it home to me how the charism of Francis is a bridge that spans the denominational divides, but it also gave me a glimpse of the freedom we enjoy as Anglican Franciscans to travel free from the historical and organisational baggage of the Roman Catholic orders. I sensed a real desire to learn from our expression of Franciscan life and I believe the visit has paved the way to an ongoing exchange that will bring blessings for all involved.

Edinburgh Friary closes

At midday on 17 June last, friends of SSF in the Edinburgh area gathered at St Cuthbert’s Church below Princes Street for a farewell eucharist. The Council of West End Churches (CWEC), landlords to the Brothers at the Friary in Lothian Road for the last nine years, invited Companions, Tertiaries, and others to say a fond farewell to the First Order, some of whom had journeyed a distance to return for the closing ceremonies.

It was in November 1973, after regular sorties across the border from Alnmouth in preparation for the first SSF house in Scotland, that brothers settled in Pilton, serving the many obvious social needs of that time and assisting at St David’s Episcopal Church. After some years the Society was invited to look after the Church and to make the Rectory their Friary. In 1989 they moved to the city centre when CWEC offered the Society a flat over a Cantonese restaurant as a Franciscan witness to ministry and prayer.

In his sermon, the Primus of the Episcopal Church, Richard Holloway, drawing on his experience, awareness and insight of both psychology and theology, described the particular Christian response which was given to the Church through Franciscan spirituality. He thanked SSF for its contribution to the Diocese and beyond, and expressed his appreciation for the work done over recent years by Kentigern John as Youth Officer and member of the General Synod.

Kentigern John has since moved to Auckland on a year’s swap with Andrew Philip who has recently arrived from New Zealand.

Swedish links

Sister Rowan Clare writes:
For the last two years, I have been visiting the Swedish Lutheran diocese of Västerås, at the invitation of their youth co-ordinator Len Howard (himself a former brother and old boy of St Francis School, Hooke).

The visits have revived an old link between SSF and the Church of Sweden. Over the years, several brothers and sisters have visited churches, schools and youth camps. Franciscans also helped to set up Sweden’s first retreat centre. An interest in Francis is still evident, especially among young people. Last year I visited the diocesan centre in Rättvik, along with Brother Jason Robert from the American Province, in order to spend time with confirmation groups and a whole range of people of all ages with questions about faith and lifestyle. This year, I went to join in an Easter youth camp which approached ethical decision-making through rôle play, and I was even able to lead a short meditation in Swedish! I was interviewed for a local paper, took part in a Greek drama, and dressed as a mediaeval abbess for a costume banquet.

Franciscan spirituality has much to offer in Sweden: like Britain, it has a materialistic culture, but there is an increasing desire for simpler values, and young people are often intrigued by the possibility of a different way of life. Religious communities are not well known in Sweden, where over 90 per cent of the population is nominally Lutheran. However, there is now a thriving autonomous region of the Third Order, and CSF also has links with a Lutheran Franciscan community near Göteborg. I enjoy being an ‘ambassador’ for C/SSF in Sweden, listening to the young people, and learning more about their perceptions of culture and church. I hope we can continue the friendship over many more years.

Fire at Hilfield

At 3.00 am on Friday 24 March, a fire was discovered in the workshop at Hilfield Friary, which caused extensive damage to the area ‘over the road’ (next to the car park) at the Friary. The workshop itself was burnt to the ground. It was subsequently discovered that the roof contained large amounts of asbestos so the clearing up of the damage had to be done with extreme caution. The cause of the fire is not known.

Alden Whitney, TSSF, RIP

Our Tertiary brother, Revd Alden Whitney, departed this life on Saturday 20 May. He was diagnosed with lung cancer at the beginning of the year which spread to his bones. He was then in a hospice program in Norwalk, CT, USA, where his last days were made as peaceful as possible. Christ, the Church, and the Society of Saint Francis were at the centre of life for Alden. He was Minister of the American Province of the Third Order of SSF and latterly Minister General of the whole Third Order throughout the world.

Round up

Rose was elected to profession in life vows by the Pentecost CSF Provincial Chapter, and the ceremony will take place in London on Saturday 9 September at St Matthew’s Church, Brixton.

Desmond Alban has been elected to profession in life vows by the Pentecost SSF Provincial Chapter, and the ceremony will take place in St Michael’s Church, Bartley Green, Birmingham on Sunday 24 September.

Guire was elected to profession by the SSF American Provincial Chapter and his vows were received by the Minister on 29 May at Little Portion Friary, Long Island.

Peter-Christian was ordained to the diaconate on 18 June in Brisbane.

Augustine Thomas moves to Glasshampton in the autumn ... David Alban moved from Birmingham to Alnmouth in June ... Edward James expects to move from Glasshampton to Hilfield in September ... Gina moved from Stepney to Brixton in May ... Kentigern John moved from Edinburgh to Auckland in June ... Lincoln Harvey expects to move to Stepney in September ... Nathanael is returning to work in the Church in Wales ... Roger Alexander returned from Zimbabwe in July and, for the time being, is based at Hilfield ... Stephen expects to move to Alnmouth in September.

In Australia, Masseo has been released from his profession in life vows.
Nolan Tobias and Philip have been released from profession in first vows.
Carol, Jason Matthias and Stuart have withdrawn from the noviciate.
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