There will be an opportunity to Gift Aid your donation, and/or to direct your gift to the brothers, or sisters or a particular house, after you have completed the final page on PayPal (PayPal account not required).


Brother Andrew SSF – Rest in Peace

Brother Andrew died in Dorchester Hospital on 2nd August after period of increasing frailty. He had been living at Hilfield Friary for the past four years, having returned from Papua New Guinea after nearly forty eight years of service. The funeral was held in the Friary chapel, attended by his cousins David and Jill, by friends who had known him in PNG and more recently in the local area, and brothers and other members of the Friary Community. Br Giles presided at the requiem Mass, Br Samuel gave an address and Br Philip Bartholomew, the Assistant Minister Provincial, led the commendation and committal. Andrew’s body was laid to rest in the Friary cemetery.

Here is the address preached at his funeral by brother Samuel SSF:

An address by Br Samuel for Br Andrew’s funeral, Hilfield Friary, Friday, 9th August 2013

 The majority of the congregation for Andrew’s funeral isn’t here today – his friends and colleagues in Papua New Guinea with whom he has lived and worked over nearly fifty years; the people he has treated as ‘Doctor Brother Andrew’, the children, students and families he has supported and encouraged, the people in the mental health Service he helped to set up, the Visitation Sisters at Popondetta whom he guided, and the prisoners for whom he stood up in court. All in all it would be a huge congregation, many themselves now departed, who would be here with us in respect and gratitude for Br Andrew SSF.

Of those present in the flesh in this chapel only a few knew Andrew in PNG: Br Giles, Tim Biles, Margaret Robinson, Br Hugh and, very briefly, myself. Most of us here have known Andrew only through his occasional visits home on furlough, or over the past five years since he has been based, first in Plaistow, and then more recently here at Hilfield. These five years haven’t been an easy time for Andrew – or for us! Added to his difficulty as a doctor of accepting his own need for care has been Andrew’s huge sense of loss of his work and ministry in PNG, the country which he loved and to which he has given so much of his life. Andrew’s difficulty in coping with ‘retirement’ and displacement did have it’s humorous side in which his innate wit won through. I’m thinking particularly of his dress sense – those layers upon layers of clothes, often put on back to front or inside out, sometimes incorporating part of his habit, were a kind of witty jibe, not just at the English weather to which he never re-acclimatised, but also at his ‘enforced’ presence here at Hilfield. In effect he was saying, ‘I’m just not going to fit in’.

I want to mention two people who have been really important for Andrew’s care here at the Friary. Br Hugh has given hours and hours each week of sensitive, patient, generous attention: cleaning his room (admittedly, to his own low standard of cleaning!), fetching him for meals and sometimes fetching meals to him, reading to him in the evenings, and inventing outings – to Cerne Abbas for tea, to Portland Bill to see the sea, or, most exciting of all, surrounded in the car by plastic bottles, to the recycling tip in Sherborne. And then, Mike Oram, coming in each week to bake bread, to keep an eye on the water and sewage plants, and to spend time, a lot of time, with Andrew. Mike has been one of the few people who was able to engage with Andrew intellectually and to recognise and draw out from him his humour and sharp insight. We owe thanks to both of these – and to Br Edmund in Plaistow during Andrew’s first year back from PNG – for their love and care.


Although it hasn’t been easy, Andrew’s presence here at Hilfield Friary has been important for all of us – I would even say a ‘blessing’. Community life is not about living just with the people we find easy to get on with, people like us whom we like, people who are accommodating – a Mary Poppins kind of show. Authentic communities have in them people who are hurt, angry, awkward and wounded – in fact, there’s a bit of that in each one of us. Andrew’s presence among us has touched on our own frustration, powerlessness and vulnerability, and by the grace of God through Andrew we’ve learnt something about patience, forbearance, compassion and mercy – and how to laugh at it all.

And now our Brother Andrew has come to meet ‘Sister Death’ from whom no-one alive can flee, and who, said St Francis, is to be welcomed and embraced as part of God’s loving purpose for each one of us and for all his creation. A visitor who was with us soon after we heard that Andrew had died in Dorchester Hospital said to me, ‘Well, he has gone to a better place’. The problem is that the only ‘better place’ that Andrew would have wanted to go was back to PNG! The sentiment was kindly meant, but in fact going to a better place is not the Christian hope of what will happen to us when we die. The Christian hope is centred around those words of Jesus which we’ve heard in the gospel reading in this Mass: ‘This is indeed the will of my Father that all who see the Son of Man and believe in him may have eternal life; and I will raise them up on the last day’. We believe in God who raises up, who raises up all that bears the image of Christ and shares the life of Christ;  who raises us up from death to life.

In a very real sense for us as Christians our dying starts at our baptism when we begin to share both the dying and the risen life of Jesus. And our Christian hope is that at the last we will be raised up to share fully in the beauty, the mercy, the compassion, the wisdom and the glory that the Son and the Holy Spirit share with the Father. Our faith is that the only ‘better place’ to which Andrew is going is within the life of the Blessed Trinity. It’s this Trinitarian ‘raising up’ from death to life that we are celebrating in this Requiem Mass, and it’s to the God who raises up that we commend Andrew today.

Such raising up from death to life doesn’t do away with all the quirkiness or awkwardness of our human lives, nor does it just send them to a better place. Rather, God’s raising up forgives, redeems, heals and transforms so that we share and reflect God’s glory. So when, by God’s mercy and grace, we too are raised up at the last and share fully in God’s life – which is his promise to us in Jesus – then I’ll bet you anything that we’ll meet Andrew and he’ll still be wearing that funny woollen hat.


Ground breaking ceremony for CSF convent in Korea

The ground breaking ceremony for the Korean CSF sisters’ long-awaited convent at Il-Seon-Ri, near Gumi in Korea  took place on Thursday 8th August, during Sr Sue’s pastoral visit as Minister Provincial.  Bishop Onesimus Park, Bishop of Busan, who is Sr Frances and Jemma’s diocesan bishop, and their Bishop Protector, led the service.  Fr Peter Chun, priest of Gumi Anglican church, and Fr. Jonathan Kim, formerly priest at Gumi and now retired, also took part, as did Srs Sue, Frances, Jemma and several other members of the Construction Committee and local supporters.  Br Raphael Suh SSF from Gangchon Friary also attended the ceremony.About 40 people braved the unusually hot weather to attend the celebration, and all shared a delicious lunch after the service.

Opening procession:  Sr Jemma carrying the cross, Fr Jonathan, Sr Sue, Fr Peter, Bishop Onesimus

Opening procession: Sr Jemma carrying the cross, Fr Jonathan, Sr Sue, Fr Peter, Bishop Onesimus

Bishop Onesimus & Sr Sue Ground Breaking

Bishop Onesimus & Sr Sue Ground Breaking

Sr Frances leading the litany.

Sr Frances leading the litany.

Some of the congregation making the most of the shade provided by the traditional entrance to the site

Some of the congregation making the most of the shade provided by the traditional entrance to the site

One of the dining rooms for the celebration lunch held at a house in Il-Seon-Ri

One of the dining rooms for the celebration lunch held at a house in Il-Seon-Ri

Rest in Peace: Brother Andrew SSF

Brother Andrew (Michael Francis Ince-Jones) born 31st March 1928 died on the 2nd August 2013, at the age of 85 years.  He had been a professed brother in the SSF for 58 years, much of that time spent in Papua New Guinea.  Andrew had become increasingly frail over the last few months and collapsed at the friary, Hilfield on 1st August and was taken into the Dorchester Hospital where he died the next day.  Andrew will be buried at the Friary and funeral arrangements will be made known in due course.

May he rest in peace and rise in glory.

Franciscan Festival: Hilfield Friary

Franciscan Festival

 Saturday 14th September 2013 at Hilfield Friary

 12 noon             The Eucharist

President and Preacher the Rt Rev’d Graham Kings, Bishop of Sherborne

2.00pm              Bishop Graham’s address:  ‘Repair my house’ – reflections on God’s words to St Francis

4.00pm              Tea followed by Evening Prayer

Come and meet the Brothers and other members of the Friary Community; see some of the changes which have taken place over the last few years; meet with Bishop Graham and think about the life of Church and Community in this part of Dorset.

Bring your own picnic lunch.  We’ll supply drinks and a sumptuous afternoon tea.

The Friary Shop will be open.

Visits the new Canticle Garden, the renovations for the Recreation Room and get to know the Friary livestock.


Francis, the Holy Jester by Dario Fo

Francis, the Holy Jester by Dario Fo


Translated and performed by Mario Pirovano


Hilfield Friary, 7.30pm, Friday 13th September 2013

 A celebration of life, liberty, truth and devotion.  Episodes from the life of St Francis of Assisi as told by Dario Fo, Nobel Laureate, Italy’s most important living playwright.  A tale that brings together courtiers, Popes, Cardinals, generals and peasants, saints and sinners, and Jesus himself in a great pageant of characters brought to life through a remarkable performance that sparks the imagination and delights the soul.

Performed by Mario Pirovano, Fo’s great friend and collaborator, the play, in the ‘jester tradition’, is fun, but also conveys something of the subversive message of St Francis and of the Good News of Jesus Christ.  This is a delightful slice of life in medieval Italy, and a challenge for our lives today.

Suggested donation £10.  Tickets available from Sara Whistance, The Friary, Hilfield, Dorchester, DT2 7BE.  Email Telephone 01300 342311

holy jester

Sisters at Synod

Anglican Religious Communities (The umbrella body for monks, nuns, sisters and brothers in England) ran a breakout session “Monasticism Old & New” at the recent General Synod in York.  A panel of speakers from both traditional religious communities and newer ones talked about the differences and the commonalities of our ways of life. The session was chaired by Bishop David Walker, Chair of the (C of E) Advisory Council.  Sisters Beverley and Chris James were part of the ARC team running the event.

Synod York view from the meeting room

Srs Beverley & Christine James at the York General Synod

Srs Beverley & Christine James at the York General Synod

York Synod - ARC Session

York Synod – ARC Session

Religion & Belief Roadshow

Religion and Belief Roadshow at Lutterworth College

Sister Beverley took part in a mini roadshow on 26th June, which was run by St Philip’s centre at Lutterworth College. The students were aged 14-18. 5 faiths were represented, and representatives of each faith had a stall where artifacts and information was available for the students, which stimulated questions, they were encouraged to try on clothing eg: A cassock alb and stole from the Christian faith, which caused amusement and the taking of many photos by their friends!

This was the first time that I had attended a roadshow, it was exhausting but very worthwhile.

2013-06-26 11.06.362013-06-26 10.24.202013-06-26 11.09.542013-06-26 11.10.28



Sister Beverley takes part in a training day for college students

Sister Beverley takes part in a training day for college students who were undertaking a Catalyst Bronze level leadership course

On Wednesday 19th June Sister Beverley was one of four ‘faith practitioners’ (representatives from the Christian, Hindu, Jewish, and Sikh faiths) who took part in a course for students run by St Philip’s Centre (who run courses to educate and promote understanding between the different faith groups).

The students attended from Wyggeston and Queen Elizabeth I College. They had prepared questions around issues of interest and concern which they brought to ask each of the 4 faith advocates. As the students gathered in small groups, each advocate had twenty minutes to answer the questions, and then moved onto the next group.

This was a very intensive, lively and thought provoking event, and was the first time that I had taken part in these training sessions. Living in the heart of the city of Leicester I am surrounded by neighbours of different nationalities and faiths. So it was a privilege to take part in a workshop that made me share the Christian faith and challenged me to explain the mysteries such as the Trinity! and ‘what did I think about the question of gay marriage’? to name just two of the many questions that occurred.




SSF Bentley

The brothers house in Bentley, near Doncaster has now closed.  Brother Malcolm served as the parish priest at St Peter’s Bentley and took his last service at the end of June.  He will now move to the new house in Newcastle upon Tyne.

News around the Provinces

Brother James William (James William Dawes) and brother Jonathan Guthlac who has more recently been a member of the American Province have after a period of discernment both asked to be released from SSF and from life vows.  Brother Jonathan is currently hoping to have his vows received in this country as a solitary. We pray for them as they make adjustments to life outside community.

Ordination to the Diaconate

Sr Helen Julian was ordained deacon by Bishop Michael Perham at Hilfield Friary on the 4th July, supported by family, friends and community members.

Sr Helen Julian, Bishop Michael Perham and Helen's Mum

Sr Helen Julian, Bishop Michael Perham and Helen’s Mum

Sr Helen Julian with other Cuddesdon Ordinands

Sr Helen Julian with other Cuddesdon Ordinands






Annual Brothers Chapter 2013

The Brothers gathered at Hilfield Friary

The Brothers gathered at Hilfield Friary

The Brothers of the European Province met as usual at Hilfield in early June for their Annual Chapter. They were joined by Br Clark Berge, the Minister General, and by Br Stephen who is visiting this province from the SSF community in Korea.

The brothers were blessed with good weather and so the photograph shows both brothers and Friary off to their best!

Annual Brothers Chapter

Sermon preached at the Eucharist of the first Order Brothers of the Society of Saint Francis by Canon Patrick Woodhouse

June 6th 2013

Luke: 12: 22 – 34


There is something both exhilarating and daunting about reading this gospel again. Exhilarating because it encapsulates the Franciscan vision.  Francis obeyed these words literally and his obedience took him into the radical freedom that lit up the mediaeval world.

But they are daunting too.   In a society obsessed with getting and possessing, Francis’s freedom seems impossible.  ‘Strive for God’s Kingdom’, says Jesus, and don’t give a thought to anything else. Well, we might say … anxious controllers of our worlds that we are: how can we possibly do that?

But the Gospel – in the way that Luke has written it – seems to hear our fear.   ‘Don’t be afraid little flock’, says Jesus in the very next sentence, ‘it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom’.   Actually you don’t need to strive.   It is a gift.  Just learn how – empty-handed and open-hearted – to receive it … day by day by day by day….  And that learning, of course, takes a lifetime.

But then comes what is perhaps the most intriguing verse of the whole passage:  ‘make purses for yourselves that will not wear out.’

This business of purses is quite confusing.  Earlier on he said, ‘don’t have a purse’.  ‘Carry no  bag, no purse’ is the explicit instruction.  To follow me is to give up on purses.

But now he seems to say something different.  We are told not to dispense with purses, but to make them.  Create purses for yourself that will not wear out … purses to contain the uncontainable … so that your lives carry the Kingdom within them … so that in this world obsessed with money, your lives  might offer  to all around you who are really worried about how much is in their purse … an altogether different kind of currency.

Make purses for yourselves that will not wear out.  What does he mean?

It is to do with the shape of our lives.  I am reminded of a little book by David Ford written in 1997 called ‘the Shape of Living’, in which he writes most imaginatively and suggestively about how our lives are shaped.  The challenge of the book is how to give life a distinctively Christ-like shape – and that, for us, may mean giving particular attention to particular things: the disciplines of prayer we keep, the rituals we share, the symbols we revere, the habits we form, the virtues we practice, the relationships we cherish.  It is about the rule we keep within our communities …

Make purses for yourselves that will not wear out.

Of course the purse, the rule, that has, over 1500 years done more than any other to give shape to faith and society in the western world, has been the rule of St Benedict.  I was reminded of this the other day when I came across again the book written in 1981 by the distinguished moral philosopher Alasdair Macintyre entitled ‘After Virtue’, for right at the very end of his work Macintyre beguilingly alludes to St Benedict.

The book, which was republished in 2007, is about the breakdown of the moral order in the modern world.  In particular, in the absence of any overall understanding about what life is for, about what end or purpose human life has, it is about the breakdown of any consensus as to what goodness means, about what ‘right’ behaviour is.   In the modern – or perhaps we should now say ‘the post-modern’ world – Macintyre says that ‘we have – very largely, if not entirely – lost our comprehension  of morality’.   And this, he says, is a catastrophe, but one that we are very largely unaware of, though it has huge consequences.

The book – which is a long and by no means an easy read – explores how this catastrophic state of affairs has come about.  And then towards the end, in the absence of any overall consensus as to what morality is, the suggestion is that that which was regarded in the tradition of ‘The Virtues’ as a vice, ‘acquisitiveness’, or to use its Greek word ‘pleonexia’ which means greed, avarice, or covetousness, has now become a virtue, and is the central shaping force of our western world.  This leads Macintyre to suggest that we have now entered ‘a new dark ages’.  And what he says matters in this difficult and dark time is ‘the construction of local forms of community within which civility and the intellectual and moral life can be sustained’.   Make purses for yourselves which will not wear out.

 ‘A new dark ages.’

Every one of us in this Chapel, living and working in our own particular contexts, will I suspect, be able to resonate with this phrase. We might want to give our own particular definition as to what it means. Perhaps we might say it is a new dark ages where Justice is denied?  Or perhaps a new dark ages where there is a gross and widening inequality between rich and poor?  Or a new dark ages where the only measure of value is that which contributes to economic growth?  Or  – and perhaps this is the most disturbing aspect of our times – a new dark ages where we still seem largely indifferent to the fate of the earth itself?

However we might phrase it, I suspect that few of us would disagree with Macintyre’s very disquieting suggestion.   But he is not without hope.  It is the ending of his book which is so suggestive.   His final sentence reads:  ‘we are waiting not for a Godot, but for another – doubtless very different – St Benedict.’

 Side by side he places the play by Samuel Beckett – Waiting for Godot – that perhaps most characterised the meaninglessness and despair of the twentieth century, with the figure whose rule not only was the foundation of western monasticism but offers the way to how lives may find their truest, most proper shape.  A shape in which a balance of prayer and work and rest is found;  a shape in which the virtues of wisdom, justice and compassion are fostered;  a shape which, above all, understands that the idea of being a private autonomous individual, which is axiomatic to the modern consumerist world, is a nonsense and a dangerous illusion.  We only know who we really are, will only truly find happiness, in relationships of interdependence, vulnerability and trust.  Make purses for yourselves that will not wear out.

So Macintyre ends his seminal work by placing before us St Benedict, and through him the challenge of making the right kind of purse.

However Macintyre is not the only example of a most perceptive observer of the human scene ending his work with the name of a saint and the challenge of living in another way.

At the end of his little book of poems called ‘the Book of Hours’, the German poet Rainer Maria Rilke reflects on the terrible poverty and degradation that he witnessed in Paris at the very beginning of the 20th century. In his poems some of which are extraordinarily prescient of the present time, Rilke also focusses on the sickness of a society obsessed with making money, and contemptuous of the poor.  And in particular he points up the dangerous alienation of those in the cities from the world of nature.  All of these are features of our current malaise.

But what is most fascinating is that he ends his work also with a cry of longing for a saint, for a figure who can show us the way out of the darkness.

Let me read you the poem which – like Macintyre’s ending – comes as a cry of longing right at the end of Rilke’s work after he has despaired of the  condition of so many blighted lives, of the disregard in which so many are held, and of the alienation from the earth that so many exhibit.  The poem is a prayer, almost a challenge, made directly to God:

Where is he now

who leaving wealth behind

grew so bold in poverty

that he  threw off his clothes before the Bishop

and stood naked in the square?


The most inward and loving of all,

he came forth like a new beginning,

the brown-robed brother of your nightingales,

with his wonder and goodwill

and delight in earth …

Perhaps surprisingly for someone who spoke from outside the Christian tradition, Rilke looked to Francis of Assisi as the figure who most offered hope in a world increasingly darkening.

But, the poet asks: ‘Where is he now?’ … Where is he now, when we need him most?

To Rilke, Francis was a new kind of human.  A man who, with his embrace of poverty and vision of how all living things belong together in the great ecology of God, lived a life of such simplicity, trust and freedom that he offered a new way of being human.  ‘He came forth like a new beginning,’ he writes, ‘the brown-robed brother of your nightingales … with his wonder and goodwill and delight in earth …’

Make purses for yourselves that will not wear out.  Attend … keep attending … to the shape of your lives.  It is what will hold you.   And go on following in the joyful steps of Francis, with his wonder and goodwill and delight in earth.


Patrick Woodhouse.

The Shape of Living.   David F. Ford, (Fount Paperbacks)

After Virtue, a Study in Moral Theory, Third edition, (University of Notre Dame Press)

Rilke’s Book of Hours, Love Poems to God, translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy (Riverhead Books, New York)

Decision to leave CSF

After a period of discernment and a short time on Leave of Absence, Phyllis Hoare (ex Sr Phyllis) has decided to leave CSF and will be released from her life vows.  Please pray for her as she adjusts to life outside community and adapts to her new situation.

G8 urged to act on hunger

To prepare for the G8 summit the Enough Food for Everyone If coalition called this rally for 8th June, reminding us that a billion, 1 in 8 of the world’s population, are hungry.

The Flower installation

The Flower installation

Br Desmond Alban, Frerik Jerxsen and Jonathan Herbert of the Hilfield Friary Community and I   joined a Christian Aid coach in Dorchester for the service in Westminster Central Hall, where we were diverted to the also full St Margaret’s overflow. Most Rev Vincent Nichols gave the address, Archbishop Justin Welby a video message, the General Secretaries of the Methodists and URC gave contributions, while Aimee Manimani spoke of her experiences of hunger in the DR Congo. Joining Brs Peter and Vaughan, we walked to Hyde Park with Sr Kay Finnegan of JPIC Links  where we added our paper flowers to the  installation north of the Serpentine, a petal for each one of the 2 m. children who die of hunger every year, more than are killed in war.

Desmond Alban, Hugh & Muslim Aid friends

Desmond Alban, Hugh & Muslim Aid friends

South of the Serpentine we met many friends, including a Muslim Aid worker who I had known in London, now an MBE, and several tertiaries. Joining an enormous crowd, we heard Bill Gates the philanthropist start his talk by reminding us that 100 years ago today Emily Davison the suffragette died of her injuries and encouraging us also to strive for change. Among other speakers were Julie Siddiqi (a Muslim), Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, and  Satish Kumar. The weather was perfect with a carnival atmosphere. Unfortunately we had to get back to our coach before the end, missing Rowan Williams, now President of Christian Aid.

Vaughan, Sr Kay Finnegan, Frerik, Desmond Alban,  Peter, Hugh outside St Margaret’s

Vaughan, Sr Kay Finnegan, Frerik, Desmond Alban,
Peter, Hugh outside St Margaret’s





Back at home the Guardian online reported ‘While supporters enjoyed the sun in Hyde Park, across London politicians and government officials pledged up to $4.15bn to tackle malnutrition, effectively doubling the annual current spend on nutrition by 2020. A spokesman for the IF campaign hailed the commitments as a major breakthrough. … “That’s one big IF down, another two to go,” he said.’

A crowd of 45,000 gathered

A crowd of 45,000 gathered


Br Hugh SSF & Caroline Ugbo TSSF

Br Hugh SSF & Caroline Ugbo TSSF




A Good year for Orchids at Hilfield Friary?

We’re having a very late spring, but the Early Purple Orchids have been brilliant this year – more than we can ever remember – and it looks as though the other varieties may well be going to flower prolifically. There is a massive number of Twayblades appearing on our meadows and in the hedgerows, and we’ve had two sightings of the much less common Birds’ Nest Orchid, so we’re hoping for a good showing of the later varieties, Butterfly, Bee and Fly orchids as well as the Common Spotted and Pyramid Orchids. We live in a great treasury of nature!Orchids Hilfield

New Nature Information Boards at Hilfield Friary

During her time with us from September 2011 to September 2012 one of Becky Vickers’ tasks was to prepare information boards on the flora and fauna of the Friary land to be situated around the grounds. With input, too, from Richard,  and with the mounting and fixing being undertaken recently by Jonathan and Freric, the boards were in place for the Hope out of Chaos Weekend held here, 24th – 26th May. As part of this weekend celebrating the signs of hope for conservation and care of creation happening around us, those who took part visited the boards and reflected on the continuing conservation work at the Friary. Thank you, Becky, for all your work with us during your time here. The boards will be informing and encouraging us and our visitors for many years to come.

Nature Information Boards at the Friary

Nature Information Boards at the Friary

Alnmouth Open Gardens May 2013

The gardens in tip top shape

The gardens in tip top shape

Seasonable weather finally arrived just in time for the latest ‘Open Garden’ event at Alnmouth Friary on the  last Sunday of May.  Stephen Kerry, as always, had worked hard to bring out the best of the beauty of the gardens and he was joined by a host of other ‘Friends of the Friary’ who erected gazebos, manned stalls and served teas.


Helping hands in the kitchen

Helping hands in the kitchen



Browsing the stalls

Browsing the stalls








Over £1400 was raised for friary funds (on alternating occasions monies go to other local charities) but it is the strengthening of ties with local people and visitors on such days that are particularly valuable: the opportunity to join ‘Tours of the Friary’, led by brothers, was as popular as ever.

visitors enjoying the gardens

visitors enjoying the gardens

The crowds enjoying the sunshine

The crowds enjoying the sunshine

Jason Robert showing some of the guests around the friary

Jason Robert showing some of the guests around the friary

New House opens for SSF in Newcastle

St Anthony's Friary, Byker

St Anthony’s Friary, Byker

The establishment of a satellite house to the Friary at Alnmouth in Newcastle upon Tyne has been discussed for decades. Finally in April 2013 SSF received the tenancy and began this new work from the house recommended by Bishop Martin Warton down at St Anthony’s in the Byker/Walker district two miles to the East of the City Centre.

Byker Garden

The Garden at the Friary



The new Friary has four bedrooms and an attic room, two decent sized livings rooms, one being used as a chapel. The house is surrounded by trees which hides two open spaces where the Methodist Church was recently demolished and the junior school relocated to the main Walker Road. The Vicarage is in Enslin Gardens, somewhat in a corner, the last in a rather quiet cul-de-sac of four dwellings.

The more recent story of Byker is one of loss, of jobs (unemployment is very high), and of community.  The famous ‘Byker Wall’ of the 70’s is beginning to look tired but the housing has generally improved, with only one high rise block remaining.  The place appears reasonable today but there is a lingering hidden legacy of defeat and abandonment.

St Anthony's Church, Byker

St Anthony’s Church, Byker

The Anglican Churches have been very tastefully modernised and now have dual purposes, with the exception of St Anthony’s, which is a traditional Anglo-catholic church with a hall attached.

Under MINE (Mission Initiative Newcastle East) there is a strong link between the Byker Churches; St Martin’s which is set in a newly built Community Centre, St Michael’s, surrounded by the Byker Wall, needs another Lottery Grant to make it useable and currently has a temporary centre in shop premises, St Silas has been imaginatively transformed inside, and St Anthony’s. Christ Church Walker is also a part-player in MINE.


The brothers are open to possibilities in their ministry, but hope to make themselves available to MINE and to encourage this local initiative; to provide placements for novices sent to various projects locally, and perhaps wider into the City scene of depravation; Street Pastors is an other possibility; support to the neighbouring clergy;  to live a strong common life and hoping to attend to the somewhat massive garden!

Damian arrived in April, Malcolm arrives at the end of July, and Micael Christoffer and David are expected at some point in September. Please keep the brothers in your prayers as they set out on this new venture.

Hope out of chaos weekend at Hilfield Friary

Hope out of chaos 1Led by Sir Ghillean Prance, the eminent botanist and former Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, and Andy Lester, the Conservation Director of A Rocha, the worldwide Christian environmental organisation, this weekend at Hilfield focussed both on the current crisis in conservation but also looked for signs of hope. Throughout the world we are witnessing a drastic collapse in many species of plant and animal life; there’s a long list of plants and animals which have already become extinct throughout exploitation and loss of habitat. With increasing climate chaos already underway, the inexorable spread of urban populations, and human bHope out of chaos 2eings becoming more and more ‘distanced’ from the natural world, there seems little that we can do to reverse the trend. It isn’t helped by political leadership being afraid to address the issues, nor by those Christians who believe that, because it’s God’s purpose to ‘rescue his chosen’ from this world and to take them to a ‘new heaven and a new earth’, there’s no need for concern. Br Sam, also part of team leading the weekend, emphasized the connection between the way that much the food we choose to eat is grown, processed and sold, and both environmental destruction and human poverty. We recognised the need for a radical revolution in our relationship with the world around us , a revolution that is spiritual, social and environmental, and we found in the scriptures some clear pointers to such a transformed worldview.

Hope out of Chaos 3Among the signs of hope that we shared were the growth of movements such as Transition Towns, the Incredible Edible of Todmorden, the Slow Food Movement, and the support for local Wildlife Trusts, the RSPB, as well as specifically Christian organizations such as A Rocha, working around the world, the Christian Ecology Link, and many small, but increasingly effective groups in churches, communities, and interfaith links. Being at Hilfield, we were able to see at first hand some of the work begun here seven years ago to live peacefully and sensitively in this place, following the Franciscan insights of gift, interdependence,and praise.

Praise God that some people are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with a worldview which sees the rest of creation as a giant warehouse of stuff for human enjoyment, and are reaching out for a more humble and reverent relationship with the natural environment, with each other and with the Source and Goal of all life.

Fourscore years and still going strong

Br Vincent celebrated his 80th Birthday with a party at the Friary on Sunday 19th May when thirty friends joined the Friary Community for a buffet meal.

Vincent admiring his birthday cake

Vincent admiring his birthday cake

Vincent goes back a long way with Hilfield; he first arrived here in 1954, and although he has spent  many years in other SSF friaries – in the East End of London, at Alnmouth, in Wales, Northern Ireland, and New Zealand – he keeps being drawn back to this place.

Wherever he has lived he has made habits for the brothers – his own precious, multi-patched habit being witness to his ingenuity. Since his last return to Hilfield twenty years ago he has been giving loving care to the Secret Garden which is host to a wonderful variety of magnolias, rhododendrons, and camellias (on the Wednesday following his party, he and Chantal went up to the Chelsea Flower Show). Vincent is also the guardian to the Friary’s chocolate supply – no one else can be trusted with it!  We thank God for a great brother and pray for many, many more years for him.

A gathering of friends at the friary

A gathering of friends at the friary

Enough Food for Everyone – ‘IF’ Campaign






8th June 2013 is our chance to help one in eight people in the world just before the G8 meets in Northern Ireland.


A Hilfield group will be at the Ecumenical Service in Central Hall, Westminster at 11.30am and at the rally in Hyde Park at 2pm.  We look forward to seeing you there.

The G8 can end global hunger if they:


  1. Help poor countries make sure that people have enough nourishing food and support poor families to grow their own food.


  1. Close tax havens to stop billions of pounds flowing out of poor countries that could be used to end hunger and launch a convention on tax transparency.


  1. Give people in developing countries more control over their land by protecting farmers from land grabs and using land to grow good not biofuels.


But they will only do this if we push them to act.


Further details can be obtained from many charities, e.g. Christian Aid or Br Hugh at Hilfield.


You can visit the main IF website:

Wild Spring Harvest

Richard harvesting Richard gathering the bounty!

Richard gathering the bounty!

A dozen visitors came on Saturday, 18th May, to forage for food around the Friary fields and woods. The day was led by Richard and Freric from the Hilfield Community and what was gathered was then prepared, cooked and shared in a meal. Starter: Nettle Soup served with wild garlic and plantain breads. Main course: Rabbit and Wild Garlic Comfit, Squirrel Fricassee cooked with sorrel and ground elder, Nettle Gnocchi, Hop Top Omelette, Comfrey Fritters; Hawthorne and Beetroot Salad, Mixed Salads; followed by Sorrel Sorbet drizzled with beach leaf liquor and washed down with nettle beer and cordial, dandelion beer and herb teas. It’s amazing what a feast is out there if you know where to look and are brave enough to feed on it!


Hilfield Friary – Working for Warmth


The Recreation Room, used for large group meetings at the Friary, has always been a cold place, even with the central heating on twenty four hours beforehand – very costly on fuel too.

Over the past month Hilfield Community members Jonathan, Primoz and Nigel, together with the help of local friends, Alex and Richard, have been working on insulating the floor, walls and roof; a large wood-burning stove has also been installed. It’s still a work in progress but already we can feel the difference.

We were far enough ahead for it to have been used for a Diocesan Ministry Development Day on 23rd May, and we’ll be meeting there as the SSF Annual Brothers’ Chapter in the first week of June. It’s a great effort – congratulations to the workers!

scaffolding more sawing  sawing  ceilingeven more sawing


On 15th May 2013 Brs Peter, Vaughan, Benedict, and Hugh with TSSF members Caroline Ugbo, Richard Martin, Ann Hussey and Denise Yeldham attended the ‘Enough Food for Everyone If’ lobby of Parliament, organised by Cafod and Church Action on Poverty. We met at Central Hall for an opening liturgy, with several hundred members of religious orders. Timothy Radcliffe OP spoke on how Moses lobbied Pharaoh, and how important it is to lobby the authorities on behalf of the poor today as well. 8 years ago Make Poverty History called for aid to be raised to 0.7% of GNI, and it finally has been, under this present government. The call today for world hunger to end also has a realistic chance of fruition. In the 1950s 1 in 3 was hungry, now it is only 1 in 8.

Then we learnt to ask our MPs …

Nutrition – since 2 m children die of malnutrition each year, we ask our MPs to call on the PM to prioritise nutrition at the  G8 hunger summit.

Tax evasion and avoidance robs poor countries of £102bn p.a.  But ending hunger would cost only £33bn p.a.   We ask our MPs to write to David Cameron urging him to ensure G8 leaders tackle tax dodging by launching a global convention on tax transparency.

Transparency – Powerful companies need to be accountable not just to investors but to broader society. We ask our MPs to write to the Secretary of State for Business Innovation and Skills to update the Companies Act requiring companies to report on their human rights issues.

Brs. Peter, Vaughan and Benedict process past Westminster Abbey to Parliament with IF placards

Brs. Peter, Vaughan and Benedict process past Westminster Abbey to Parliament with IF placards.

Hugh, Ann Hussey, Richard Martin and Caroline Ugbo waiting to pass through security into Westminster Hall

Hugh, Ann Hussey, Richard Martin and Caroline Ugbo waiting to pass through security into Westminster Hall.

The London brothers meeting Lyn Brown MP for West Ham.

The London brothers meeting Lyn Brown MP for West Ham.

A Conservative Minister in DFID and then Ed Milliband thanked us for coming, for it encouraged MPs of all parties on such an important topic, as religious are known for living in some of the poorest places on earth. Back in Central Hall, Sarah Teather, a Lib Dem MP, also thanked us for coming, showing that MPs in all parties are committed to ending hunger.

Before the concluding  prayers, CAFOD director Chris Bain, added: ‘It’s vital that the scandal of hunger is at the top of the agenda when the G8 comes to the UK next month. It has been inspiring to see so many religious people lobby their MPs. The voice of religious communities and individuals from across the UK is important in the conversation on global hunger.”

We were encouraged to return to London on 8th June for the IF rally in Hyde Park, organised by over 200  charities. On that day, the 8th, there would also be a G8 Hunger Summit in London to find a way to help the 1 in 8 who go to bed hungry each night.

Good Friday at Hilfield Friary

Good Friday at Hilfield Friary with the Melanesian brothers and sisters

Good Friday at Hilfield Friary with the Melanesian brothers and sisters

Good Friday at Hilfield with the Melanesian brothers & sisters

Good Friday at Hilfield with the Melanesian brothers & sisters

Truly Franciscan!

The Metheringham House now has a regular visitor to their daily offices, who seems to have the uncanny knack of appearing at just about the right time.  He comes sauntering across the garden, seeming to know that the sisters just gone into chapel.  As they settle down he looks from the wall outside and through the window.  Perhaps wanting to join in he jumps from the wall to the chapel window to gaze through the glass at these strange habited people. When it seems the sisters do not pay enough  attention (to him of course) he pecks vigorously with his beak on the glass or jumps backwards and forwards between the wall and the window ledge, landing with a gentle thud.  He is a beautiful addition to the regular worshipping life of the community as the sun catches his iridescent feathers.  Having been around now for many months, the sisters are not sure whether he will stay around much long as spring is in the air and his attentions are beginning to wander elsewhere!

Who is this regular visitor? See below!

The friendly Franciscan pheasant gazes through the window at the Easter garden in the Metheringham house chapel as the sisters say Evening Prayer!

The friendly Franciscan pheasant gazes through the window at the Easter garden in the Metheringham house chapel as the sisters say Evening Prayer!

‘simply living’ mission

Ten brothers and sisters from the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu will arrive at Hilfield friary on the 22nd March to acclimatise for a couple of weeks and prepare for a mission taking place in five diocese around England between 7th April and the 11th June.  The Mission entitled ‘Simply Living’ will be led by Brother Clark Berge and will include two SSF brothers Patrick Paoni and Hilton Togara. More information will follow shortly.  Please hold these brothers and sisters in your prayers as they travel and prepare for this mission.

Solomon Island Brothers and Hilfield Community members on Palm Sunday

Solomon Island Brothers and Hilfield Community members on Palm Sunday Procession

CSF Metheringham – A House of hospitality

Metheringham – a house of hospitality – click to enlarge the picture. For more details see the Metheringham section on this website.

A House of Hospitality

A House of Hospitality


Metheringham House at Lincoln Cathedral

The sisters have now been in Metheringham for 2 1/2 years and continually try to promote the ministry of hospitality available in the beautiful surroundings of the Metheringham countryside. A place of peace and tranquility for quiet days, retreats or just some rest and refreshment. On Saturday 16th March, Sr Liz and Sr Maureen were invited to have a stand in Lincoln Cathedral to promote the facilities at San Damiano. Having recently revised the promotional literature, the pictures below are of Sr Liz and Sr Maureen talking to enquirers and handing out the new glossy leaflets.

Maureen manning the San Damiano stand

Maureen manning the San Damiano stand

Liz handing out leaflets

Liz handing out leaflets

Welcome to San Damiano, Metheringham

Welcome to San Damiano, Metheringham

Who we are: Anglican Franciscans

Who we are: Anglican Franciscans