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franciscan - September 2005

The Society of Saint Francis, 2005

Community Routes

Make Poverty History Lobby

A small group of Brothers and Sisters took part in a lobby of Parliament on 18 May.

The event, which was attended by over 1,000 members of different religious orders, was organised by the aid agency CAFOD, in conjunction with the Justice and Peace desk of the Conference of Religious.  The day began with an assembly in the Methodist Central Hall where speakers with experience of working alongside some of the world's poorest communities gave the lobbyists some insight into their situation.  The congregation then made their way to the Houses of Parliament where, after queuing outside to go through security checks, they gathered in diocesan groups in Westminster Hall to request audiences with their MPs. 


Many MPs came, listened courteously and attentively to the arguments and requests for action and promised to write letters encouraging further action to cancel debts, increase aid and end unfair trade practices.


The day ended with a service in St Margaret's, Westminster.

All Change at Hilfield

Following the Brothers' Extraordinary Chapter in January, reported in this column previously, a reduction is to be made in the size of the Friary at Hilfield.  It has been decided to give up the four separate houses nearest to the cemetery, which include the Guest House.  It is also intended to dispose of some of the land around the friary, both the fields and the woodlands.  The brothers are currently exploring with others about alternative uses for the houses which will become vacant and for the land.  The Guest House will close at the end of October this year.

The brothers will live and work in the complex of buildings around the courtyard which includes the chapel, shop, Giles House, recreation room, library, Leo House, and St Francis House where the refectory is situated.

At the reduced Friary complex the brothers will still be able to welcome individuals and parties of day visitors for quiet days, PCC away days, or for special programmed events, Third Order and Companions days.

They hope to provide hospitality to those wishing to stay overnight, though on a smaller scale than in the present Guest House.

The brothers also hope to continue their ministry with people in need of support and short term accommodation in partnership with the Government scheme 'Supporting People'; at present they have five rooms set aside for this ministry.

The community is grateful for friendship and encouragement in the past, and asks for continued prayers and support for the life at Hilfield now and in the future.

Justice and Peace Links

The Roman Catholic Religious Leaders Conference sponsors an ecumenical religious conference which helps to raise awareness of issues of Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation (JPIC) among religous orders.  Hugh attends on behalf of SSF, and Jennie for CSF.  Jennie writes:

I have found that being the JPIC representative of CSF has given me a deeper understanding of the complexities of the issues that come under this heading.  I contribute to a prayer board by the chapel at Compton Durville and maintain a folder of more in-depth information so that the other sisters can learn more about topics which interest them.  It is good, if not comfortable, to be more informed.  I also attend the South Somerset Peace Group which meets monthly in Ilminster.

I have attended three JPIC conferences since I have been CSF's representative.  The first was 'Salt of the Earth', on ecology, the second was entitled 'Sow Justice, Reap Peace', which was about issues like trade justice, and was instrumental in initiating the Lobby of Parliament by religious.  The 2005 Conference was 'Not for Sale' and looked at human trafficking, especially for the sex trade.  A speaker from CHASTE - Churches Alert to Sex Trafficking Across Europe was the main speaker, and the film, 'My Name is Lilya' was shown.

I was pleased to be able to attend the Religious Lobby of Parliament, which I found was an inspiring occasion.  I was further encouraged soon after the lobby, to recieve a written response from my MP who I had talked to about the issues of debt relief, fair trade, and more and better aid, indicating that he had taken the action he said he would.

Anglicans at the Third Order Regular General Assembly

Colin Wilfred writes:

Sister Joyce and I had the privilege of representing the brothers and sisters of the First Order of SSF at the International General Assembly of the Third Order Regular in Assisi in May. The assembly brings together every four years representatives of 380 Franciscan Congregations (this time including 104 Superiors General) with approximately one hundred thousand members world-wide. We were made very welcome as a part of the Franciscan family. The meeting was held at the Domus Pacis conference centre next to St. Mary of the Angels where St. Francis set up the first friary around the little stone chapel and where he died.

Beside the business, the discussion theme was 'How the life of the Holy Trinity inspires our mission of peace as Franciscans'. Many good things were said and a few quotes stick in my mind:-

"Every community needs the pray-ers who sustain the life, the do-ers who prompt us to action and the dreamers who give us the vision".

"We are a multinational - for change, justice and peace".

"None is so poor that they cannot share".

"Those who dream in the daytime are the dangerous ones" (D.H.Lawrence).

Stand Up For Jesus

This was the theme of the Caister 2005 conference, organised by Bishop Lindsay Urwin and attended by five SSF brothers and a number of Religious from other communities.  The conference looked at the Epistle of Paul to the Philippians, through Bible study in small groups and keynote addresses to the whole conference, including one given by Angelo.  This year's conference happened during the school holidays so children were present, a new element.  Augustine Thomas and Maximilian organised morning activities for them and at the end of the week the children gave a very moving presentation on how they had looked at the theme.

The afternoons were taken up with optional seminars on various subjects, including two from Paschal, one of which was on 'The Religious Life - everything you wanted to know'. Some of the Religious present formed a panel and answered questions and also encouraged all to pray for, and seek out, vocations.  The panel was wide in terms of age, experience and religious charism.

The conference worship was again uplifting and enriching, the most moving part of each day being the time of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament at midday with 600 Anglicans in silence for an hour.

The Four Last Vicars of St Bene'ts, Cambridge:

Martin (1971 -1985)

Thomas Anthony (1985 - 1992)

Samuel (2001 - 2005)

Anselm (1992 - 2000)

See SSF Cambridge for more details.

Round up

Following the closure of the Dundee house on 26 May, Amos has moved to St Martin's Vicarage, Plaistow and Moyra to St Francis House, Birmingham. 

Bernard has moved to Hilfield; Nathanael is expected to move to Doncaster in September and Reginald to Canterbury in October.  Martin will move to Stepney and Samuel to Hilfield following the closure of the Cambridge house in early October. 

In May, Jude took up office as the Minister Provincial of the brothers in the Province of the Americas for a term of three years. 

The Bishop of Gloucester, Michael Perham has been elected to succeed Michael Scott-Joynt as Bishop Protector for all three orders of SSF in the European Province when the latter's term of office ends in November. 

John made his Profession in First Vows on 16 May.  Maximilian has been elected to Life Profession and the ceremony was expected to be in August.  Jason has been released from life vows and membership of SSF. f


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