franciscan - September 2002
© The Society of Saint Francis, 2002
Brother Samuel has been elected as Minister of the European Province of the First Order Brothers of the Society of St Francis, in succession to Brother Damian (who has completed his maximum term of service). He was blessed into office on 13 June 2002 at the end of the Brothers’ Provincial General Chapter and took over the reins on 1 July.
Samuel is fifty-five years old and has been a member of SSF since 1974. He was ordained thirty-two years ago and has served in SSF as Novice Guardian, then more recently as Guardian of Hilfield Friary until 2000 and is at present Vicar of St Bene’t’s Church, Cambridge.
Samuel has appointed Benedict as his Assistant Minister, David Francis as Novice Guardian and Deputy Minister with responsibility for Formation, Desmond Alban as Provincial Secretary and Jonathan as Provincial Bursar.
Wizard in Oz
Brother Bernard writes:
I am very grateful to have been given a sabbatical in Australia where, some thirty years ago, I lived and worked for six years. By the kindness of friends, and travelling as far as Sydney and Cairns, I was able to visit people I’d known. It was deeply nourishing to see so many lovely, mature people.
But I began with an individual retreat guided by a Franciscan sister. For fifty years, I have revered the San Damiano Cross, yet – for the first time – I realised that Jesus was not depicted nailed to the cross. Rather, he is risen, standing in front of the cross, with arms wide open to humanity! It was in Lent, so I had time to digest this reality in terms of the closeness of suffering and the victorious love of God.
Next, I spent three weeks at Najara, a retreat centre in a forest in North Queensland. Here I lived in a shed-like cell, enjoying one cooked meal a day, and having plenty of time to read, write and pray. I read Brüggemann’s new Old Testament Theology, Bonaventure, and further pursued my interest in the Enneagram.
Back in Brisbane, I spent time with the brothers, who were very hospitable and in lively form, with postulants joining and a wide, Pacific vision. More brothers came for their Provincial Chapter, and soon after there were two life professions.
From temperatures of around 30°C, I returned to London at 10°C and caught a bug but, as I write this six weeks later, I begin to feel myself again.
‘Restore’ is the name of a Christian organisation in the West Midlands whose members come from many denominations and whose aim is to befriend refugees and asylum seekers. A befriender learns about the legislation and is then allotted to a family (or individual) with whom to make friends – through regular visits, through conversation, through support in dealing with benefits agencies, housing department, schools and language learning. Anselm and Maureen are both members (operating independently) and are gaining much from the experience.
Brother Paschal writes:
Alnmouth Friary hosted a week-long ecumenical visit from ten German Lutheran Sisters from Christus Bruderschaf, Selbitz. As well as providing essential rest for the Sisters, who run their one-hundred bed guest-house, time was also allocated for shared prayer, discussion and mutual exploration of our respective communities, founders, history and charisms.
It was a joy to discover how much St Francis had influenced their Mother Foundress and how, even today, the sisters are encouraged to make a pilgrimage to Assisi before making life profession.
The Selbitz Sisters (approximately one hundred and fifty in number) and Brothers (about ten in total) each have their own Superior. They work in priories in Germany, especially with young people and the elderly, and in Africa.
The sisters, in their grey habits, with a white, knotted, cord waist-band, white veils and silver cross, soon became a familiar sight in the village and their joyful faces made a deep impression on people. Yet it was in chapel that their deep faith, dignified reverence and beautiful singing gave us a real insight into the heart of their Order.
During their visit, the sisters were able to visit some of the local holy sites, but the highlight for all of us was the celebration of the feast of Corpus Christi, when we feasted on the generosity of Christ. We look forward to a growing friendship between Alnmouth and Selbitz, as we seek to uncover unity between our two Churches.
Greyfriars in Canterbury is an oasis of calm in the centre of a busy city, with its regular services organised by the Companions and the permanent Franciscan exhibition in the remaining medieval building. The exhibition has been professionally restaged, produced collaboratively by Anglicans and Roman Catholics and designed to be accessible to all ages and backgrounds. The centre piece (literally) is a stunning hanging print of Francis preaching. After a Eucharist celebrated by Revd David Hayes, parish priest and Warden of Greyfriars, the exhibition was officially opened in May by Carolin Clapperton, Minister Provincial TSSF, in the presence of the Mayor and a wide cross-section of parishioners and Anglican and Roman Catholic Religious.
Plaistow may not be Gubbio and urban foxes may only be small cousins of wolves, but visitors to SSF Plaistow may get glimpses in the evenings and early mornings of a fox family that has taken up residence in the walled garden. Watching the fox cubs chasing and romping together on the lawn is proving to be a delight to many.
Option for the Poor
In March, a number of brothers and sisters involved in different ways in living out the Franciscan ‘Option for the Poor’ met at St Andrew’s Conference Centre, Plaistow. Every Province of the First Order was represented. This international flavour offered a rare opportunity to share our particular experience of working with poor, marginalized and rejected people, wherever we find ourselves as Franciscans. Whatever our context, the attempt to live out our own vow of poverty with integrity is an essential part of the relationships we build with those in our locality. During the conference, we visited a project for homeless people run by Roman Catholic Franciscans in Canning Town. We also heard something of the work of Franciscan Aid, and Tim Moulds of Christian Aid joined us to discuss exciting plans to further their links with SSF – watch this space!
Pray for Peace
Some of the brothers and sisters will be involved with Prayers for Peace, a multi-faith witness, to be held on 28 September, 2002, at St Martin-in-the-Fields, London, at noon. The event has been organised by the Franciscan Association of Great Britain, and anyone who is interested to attend will be warmly welcomed.
On the Way
Brother Augustine Thomas writes:
The May Bank Holiday saw thirteen Religious travel to Alnmouth for the Anglican First-Professed Conference. It was a very diverse group representing ten communities.
At the heart of the conference was prayer and worship, both with the Alnmouth Brothers and together as a group; this included singing Evensong in the Priory at Lindisfarne and praying in Brinkburn Priory.
There were two speakers: Revd Professor Nick Sagovsky, who spoke about partnership and the relationship between the Church and Religious Communities; and Bishop Paul Richardson, who spoke on prophetic witness. Both these talks sparked off lively discussion between participants.
The main benefit from the conference was the opportunity to talk with others at the same stage of Religious life. This happened in formal sessions, in the refectory and in rather more informal settings. It was also good to make new contacts and renew old friendships. As a result a Newsletter has been started to enable us to keep in touch with each other. We expect to meet in Ditchingham next year.
Wayne Martin has been elected to profession in first vows and the ceremony is expected to take place at Alnmouth Friary on 7 October at noon.
Hubert has moved to a nursing home in Sherborne.
James Anthony is at present living back in England, caring for his sick father.
Kentigern John has returned to the UK from New Zealand.
Martin Philip expects to move to Cambridge in late August.
Michael has moved to a nursing home in Cambridge.
Selwyn Suma, from the Pacific Islands Province, is at present in the European Province, experiencing community life in the UK.
Christopher has been granted Leave of Absence. f
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