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Monthly Archives: August 2014

St Anthony’s Friary: a year on.

Recognising the need for a clear opportunity to share in the life of a northern city and to provide a place for the training of novices in urban Franciscan ministry,  the Chapter sought a place in the Newcastle upon Tyne area to open a house for up to four Brothers. This location would also put the Brothers in reach of the established Friary at Alnmouth thus making a practical link between the two Community houses. The Bishop of Newcastle kindly invited the Brothers to establish a presence on the East side of the city, centred on the vacant Vicarage in the parish of St Anthony of Egypt, Byker. He blessed the Friary and the four resident Brothers on 15th September, 2013.

The new Friary has given its first year to get to know the area and to discover ministries both set within the house itself and in the Byker/Walker area. We were particularly welcomed by the local group of parish clergy who are formed into a unique shared ministry under the title Mission Initiative Newcastle East (MINE). The two brothers who are priests, Malcolm and Damian, have been able to serve in the five MINE parishes, at St Anthony’s more specifically. The two novice brothers who have been in training, David and Micael Christoffer, have been in placements attached to two of these parishes. Links were established also with the Cedarwood Trust, a highly active organisation which offers pastoral care on the Meadow Well estate in North Shields.

The Friary has been welcomed by many of the local churches as a house of prayer in what is a seriously deprived area with high rates of unemployment and some deep social problems. Clearly there are opportunities with the local CofE Primary School, with the elderly, and in carrying forward the life of the parish in which we are situated. While accommodation is limited, we are laying some emphasis on hospitality and we have agreed to give priority to welcoming from time to time a homeless person directed from the local de Paul Night-stop programme.

September marks the month in which charges of personnel in the noviciate will occur. We are also losing Malcolm who has been asked to form another modest presence, with Christopher Martin, at Westcott House in Cambridge. Malcolm has been appointed Chaplain commencing this Autumn Term.We ask for prayers as this represents a new start for all mentioned above, including those serving in St Anthony’s Friary from mid-September: Damian, Robert, Michael Jacob and James Douglas.

Bishop Martin of Newcastle, Brothers and Guests at the Blessing of St Anthony's Friary

Bishop Martin of Newcastle, Brothers and Guests at the Blessing of St Anthony’s Friary

An aerial view of St Anthony's.

An aerial view of St Anthony’s.

Staying at a Friary – A Student from the University of St Andrews reflects.

We are very grateful to Alex Taylor (a Divinity Student at the University of St Andrews) for giving his permission to reproduce an article he first wrote for the newsletter of his local Church (All Saints Episcopal Church). Alex is part of a group of students and townspeople who come to visit Alnmouth Friary on a regular basis:

“…The former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey once described Anglican religious orders as being ‘the best kept secret in the Church of England.’ This is a great shame, for the monastic life offers some of the richest experiences of Christian service and worship.

On the weekend of Palm Sunday, a group largely composed of students, including a good number from All Saints, went on retreat to the Franciscan Friary at Alnmouth in Northumberland. Alnmouth is one of the main houses of the Society of St Francis, a Franciscan order whose emphasis is on serving God in the whole of creation. The friary is set on the Northumberland coastline with beautiful views out over the sea on one side and the countryside on the other. It is the home to a small number of friars who combine a life of prayer and worship with a dedication to service and friendship of all. And of course, it is the spiritual home of a good many more people who have found God’s love and presence more fully realised in the silence of the chapel or the fellowship of the table. Continue reading