franciscan - May 2003
© The Society of Saint Francis, 2002
O Sad And Troubled Bethlehem
The words written by Wendy Ross-Barker, of the alternative version of the familiar Christmas carol, became a vivid reality for Joyce when she visited Bethlehem last December as part of the course ‘The Palestine of Jesus’, which she was attending at St George’s College, Jerusalem. It so happened that on the first day it was heard that the curfew was lifted in Bethlehem for some hours – this might be the only chance for a visit.- so everything was hastily rescheduled. The small group set out in a van, and the first experience of everyday life for Palestinians became theirs when they were turned back at the checkpoint on the main road – with no reason given by the young Ethiopian soldier. No amount of pleading changed that. However the van driver, a Palestinian, decided to try another route into the town and this time there was no problem at the checkpoint, it just took much longer via a narrow winding road.
There was much activity in evidence on arrival – food buying and attending to business that cannot be managed under 24- hour military curfew! It is hard for us who have never lived under such conditions to imagine what it must be like, day in and day out. Many instances of hardship and humiliation and wanton damage, and of the depression and feelings of abandonment experienced by the residents, were related. The group visited the Bethlehem Peace Centre, the Church of the Nativity and the Shepherd’s Fields. Tourists were noticeable by their absence – a factor which is severely affecting the economy of the town. The van was turned back again at the main checkpoint but returned to Jerusalem ‘the Palestinian Way’ as it was called locally.
The experiences of that day deeply affected the group and stayed with them for the duration of the course. Joyce hopes to return to Israel later as a volunteer with the International Women’s Peace Project in a Muslim village, Hares, on the West Bank.
Ordination in Bermuda
In November 1959 there was a mission at Saint Andrew’s, Willesden Green, which was led by Brother Martin. Towards the end of the mission a pageant was enacted by some of the children of the parish. A boy who took a prominent part was David Addington, who was then 11 years old. All this was over 40 years ago, but David has always remembered the experience.
In 1977 he moved to Bermuda, where he works as a lawyer. On Epiphany Sunday this year David was ordained as a non-stipendiary priest. At his request, Brother Martin went to Bermuda to preach at the ordination.
Martin was impressed by the manifestly Christian atmosphere in the island. It is claimed that there are more churches in Bermuda per square mile than in any other country of the world. Nevertheless they are very short of priests, and their newly ordained priest will certainly be kept very busy.
For a week last December, the General Curia of the Order of Friars Minor (OFM) in Rome, very generously hosted an Inter-Franciscan Ecumenical Dialogue. About 30 Franciscan religious attended, those from SSF being Alfred Boonkong, Anthony Michael, Austin, Benedict, Daniel, Joyce and Maureen. The Dialogue included formal addresses, mostly given by members of the group, small group discussions and informal conversations at mealtimes and while travelling from place to place as the conference included a pilgrimage to places associated with St Francis. Thus the group visited sites in Rome, Assisi and San Damiano, La Verna, Greccio and Fonte Colombo.
Our discussions revealed something of the diversity and unity that we have as Franciscans and enabled us to build some more bridges as we prayed together and shared our lives and our dreams. The Dialogue raised our awareness of Franciscans in other lands and in other denominations. Hopefully, there will be some building on this initiative within the Franciscan orders and between them, and more such Dialogues will be held to extend and strengthen our inter-Franciscan links.
As reported on an insert with the last issue of franciscan, Brother Tristam died in hospital in London on 28 December. He was aged fifty-six years and in the thirty-second year of his Religious Profession. Tristam had been seriously ill with pancreatitis since last August. He was buried at Hilfield on 3 January and a Requiem Mass of Thanksgiving for Tristam’s life was held at the Church of Our Most Holy Redeemer, Clerkenwell, on 8 February, at which the preacher was Dr Petá Dunstan. One of Tristam’s tasks in recent years was production editor of franciscan, and his presence on the Editorial Board of the magazine is greatly missed. You can read his obituary and the sermon preached by Dr Petá Dunstan.
Sister Alison Mary died peacefully in hospital in Birmingham on 23 January after a short illness. She was aged eighty-two years and in the fortieth year of her Religious Profession. Alison Mary’s funeral took place at St Francis House, Birmingham, on 12 February and her ashes were interred at Compton Durville during the annual Sisters’ Meeting at the end of February. (obituary)
Brother Hubert died peacefully on 28 February, in the nursing home where he had been resident for about a year. He was aged eighty-four years and in the thirty-eighth year of his Religious Profession. His funeral and burial were at Hilfield on 6 March. (obituary)
May they rest in peace and rise in glory.
Brother Daniel has been elected for a second term as the Minister General SSF.
Oswin Paul was elected to Life Profession at the Candlemas Chapter. The ceremony took place at Alnmouth on 25 March.
A number of First Order brothers and sisters resident in or near London joined the protest march against the possibility of a war against Iraq, in the capital city on 15 February. Others joined in local events expressing a desire for peace in the world, including the two-hour inter-faith prayer vigil held in the Anglican cathedral in Birmingham.
Austin and Bernard have moved to Canterbury where they are establishing a new Franciscan house on part of the historic Greyfriars site.
Martin Philip was licensed as an assistant priest at St Bene’t’s, Cambridge, on 20 November 2002 and Mark Edmund has also now moved to Cambridge.
David Francis has moved to Gladstone Park.
Catherine Joy has moved to this province and is currently living in Brixton.
Hugh is in Papua New Guinea for a year, teaching at Martyrs’ School, near Haruro Friary and Thomas Anthony is spending a year in Pakistan, where he will minister in the Church in Lahore and Islamabad.
Giles’ time in Zimbabwe was extended to six months, to enable the completion of work at the new friary of the Community of the Divine Compassion and he has returned to Hilfield.
Dominic Christopher has been granted leave of absence. Richard has withdrawn from the noviciate. Rowan Clare has been released from membership of CSF. f
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