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).


Two new Novices for SSF

Br Benedict with Br Anthony (L) and Br John Taylor (R)

On Saturday 18th January 2020 Br Benedict (the Minister Provincial) admitted Anthony Clarke and John Taylor to the Novitiate of the Society of St Francis. Br Anthony and Br John Taylor will remain in Alnmouth before moving to a new Friary in the summer months. God Willing we will be joined by two other men wanting to test their Vocation to Religious Life within the Society of St Francis in February.


L-R: Bishop Christine, Bishop John, Anthony and Micael Christoffer SSF

Our Postulant Anthony Clarke was Confirmed by Bishop Christine Hardman (Bishop of Newcastle) at St Mary’s Stannington on Sunday. We are very grateful to Bishop Christine and to the Rev’d Catherine Pickford (the Vicar) for welcoming Anthony, John and Br Michael Christoffer so warmly!

Br Reginald SSF – Funeral Mass

The Funeral Mass of our Brother Reginald will be Celebrated in the Parish Church of St John the Baptist, Alnmouth on Wednesday 13th March at 11.30am at which the minister will preside and Br Philip Bartholomew SSF will preach. Reg’s body will be received into Church the night before (on Tuesday 12th March) and Compline will be sung there at 9.30pm. Refreshments will follow the service.

Br Reginald SSF RIP

Please pray for the repose of the soul of our Brother Reginald who died yesterday night (Wednesday 20th February) in Alnwick Infirmary with two of his Brothers at his side. Please remember him, his family, his many friends and the Alnmouth Brothers in your prayers.

May he Rest in Peace and Rise in Glory!

Br Reginald SSF after preaching in St John the Baptist, Alnmouth for the Patronal Festival

I can only say ‘Thank you’ to God. But while I’m here there’s something missing – questions to be answered, gaps to be filled. There’s a longing which only the vision of God can satisfy, and that when God is ready…”    

Alnmouth Guests Email

Br David SSF

The Guestbrother in Alnmouth (Br David) now has a ‘dedicated’ email address which is People wishing to enquire about booking a Retreat at the Friary should use this address and not

Rob Evans was admitted to the Novitiate by Br Benedict at Evening Prayer on Sunday 5th August. Rob, who has taken the Religious name of Br Tobias, was joined by members of his family and other friends at the service. Tobias will remain in Alnmouth until he moves to Glasshampton in the new year.

Br Tobias nSSF with Br Benedict SSF


Life Profession at Alnmouth

Br Micael Christoffer (Brother in Charge at Alnmouth) made his Life Profession today. Bishop Stephen Cottrell (Bishop Protector) received Micael’s vows on behalf of the Church. The Rev’d Madeleine Dahl (a member of the Companions of Christ and Associate Priest of the Parishes of St Paul with All Saints and St Mary and St John Chatham) preached. A long standing friend of Micael’s, Madeleine’s Sermon, based on the five wounds of Christ (shown in the Cross of St Bridget of Sweden), charted five significant points in Micael’s journey. For more information about the Companions of Christ please click here.

The Rev’d Madeleine Dahl.

Micael prostrates himself before the Altar

Br Micael makes his Vows

Br Ramon SSF

Canon Arthur Howells, a friend of Br Ramon’s, has written a book about Ramon which includes extracts from Ramon’s writings. Entitled A Franciscan Life it is published by the Bible Reading Fellowship and costs £8.99 (ISBN: 9780857466624). Br Christopher John SSF (Minister General of the Brothers of the First Order) writes “…Congratulations to Arthur Howells and BRF for producing a book which encapsulates what I knew of Br Ramon SSF. I really appreciate the way the author has blended the story of Ramon’s life with extracts from Ramon’s own words. And the thematic extracts from his writings provide material for individual or group reflection. Personally, I will be using the book for my daily spiritual reading, as a ‘starter’ for prayer. Thanks for the publication of this book which I am sure will do a lot to help keep Ramon’s teaching alive…”

SSF YouTube Channel

Br Christopher John (Minister General of the Society of St Francis) has been making videos on his Pastoral visits around the Provinces. Click here to be taken to his YouTube Channel.

Book Launch at Alnmouth Friary

The Friary, Alnmouth written by local historians Patricia Jones and John and Stephanie Yearnshire was launched today in the library of Alnmouth Friary. The launch, which was attended by Lord and Lady Howick (Son and Daughter-in-law of Lady Mary Howick a great benefactress of the Friary) and other guests marks the culmination of a year of research into the history of what is now the Friary of St Francis but which began life, more than a hundred years ago, as Lint Close the home of Mr and Mrs Scholefield of Alnmouth. It was particularly good that Br Reginald (acting Guardian of Alnmouth in 1988) was present as well as many friends of the Friary.

The proceeds of the book (which costs £4.00) will go towards the work of the Society of St Francis.


Br Reginald enjoying the book

Lord and Lady Howick with Patricia Jones and John and Stephanie Yearnshire

Br Micael (Brother in Charge)

Br Jason (who was involved in the production of the book) with John Yearnshire and Lord Howick





Life Profession in Alnmouth

On Friday 28th July Br Joseph Emmanuel made his Life Profession in the Society of St Francis which was accepted on behalf of the Church by the Bishop Protector (Bishop Stephen Cottrell). Sister Helen Julian CSF preached at the Mass and Br Joe was joined by people from many different stages in his life.

Alnmouth Friary – Retreat bookings

Alnmouth Friary is now entirely full for the year 2017 and therefore we can not accept any more bookings. There are, however, plenty of spaces in 2018!

Sr Sue in Korea (1)

Won Seong Dong Church in Cheunan, Daejeon Diocese in South Korea on 30th April during Sue’s visit to the Sisters.  Here Sue is  preaching with Jemma interpreting.  The altar frontal and lectern fall are Jemma’s work – her sewing business making vestments, church linen and clergy clothing bring her into fruitful relationships with many churches of various denominations.  This Anglican church is where Juliana works 2 days a week, staying overnight, and normally making the 2 hour journey by train back to Gumi, on Sunday evenings.

Canterbury Brothers acknowledge the contribution made to the UK by migrants.

Br Micael Christoffer writes:

On the 20th of February (the UN World day of Social Justice) people from all over the UK celebrated the continuing contribution of migrants to this country. The Brothers in Canterbury joined others in marking this by attending a march and holding it in prayer at the Eucharist (the march passed by the Chapel in which some of the Brothers were Celebrating the Eucharist). On the same day the Westminster Parliament held a debate about the proposed visit of Donald Trump to the United Kingdom. This, coupled with the ongoing Brexit debate was also noted by those participating on the march. Speaker after speaker proposed that we focus on hope and not fear. The march was attended by several hundred people representing the Church, Universities and others.


Newcastle Brothers Protest!

Br Robert writes:

On Holocaust Memorial Day (27th January), President Donald Trump signed an executive order prohibiting people from seven predominantly Muslim countries (Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen) from entering the USA, an act which provoked condemnation on a worldwide scale.On the 30th of January, there were protests all over the UK, calling on Prime Minister Theresa May – who appeared ambivalent when interviewed on the policy –  to condemn the ban. The Brothers in Newcastle decided to register their opposition to the ban and all it stands for and joined in one such protest. It was wonderfully inspiring to be part of a huge assembly, which had gathered at 24 hours notice around the Earl Grey Monument in the City Centre. The organisers used the occasion to send a clear message against hatred. Many signs stated ‘Refugees are welcome here’. It gave us a great sense of hope, that civil society is still so alive and well in the UK: And willing to stand up!

Br Anselm’s 60th Anniversary of Profession

On the 8th of December the Community celebrated Br Anselm’s 60th Anniversary of Profession. Br Anselm (who was Headmaster at Hooke School and then Minister Provincial) has served in many different places including Cambridge (where he was Vicar of St Benet’s), on a council estate in Birmingham and in the East end of London. He now exercises a much valued Ministry of Spiritual Direction and is resident in the Monastery at Glasshampton.

The Eucharist was Celebrated by the Bishop of Worcester (Dr John Inge) and attended by many of Br Anselm’s friends after which there was a Feast in the Refectory.





Neil Baird included a paragraph written by Br Hugh SSF in his photoessay on Carbon Footprints which may be found on the Maptia website (click here)

Photograph © Neil Baird 2015 and used with his permission

Photograph © Neil Baird 2015 and used with his permission

Brother Hugh lives in a Franciscan community in the Dorset Countryside.

“What everyone knows about St. Francis is the ‘Brother Sun, Sister Moon’ stuff. The idea is that we do not have dominion over things, but that we are all equal creatures with the things God has given us. Climate change is by far the biggest issue. It’s not the end of the world — we’ve had six mass extinctions, and we’re now going through the seventh — the biggest extinction since the end of the dinosaurs.

Maybe for the Earth that’s good, there are some greens who might say that human beings are a scourge, and that we should go and that the Earth would be better off without us and start all over again. As a Christian I think human beings are rather important, and I think while we are fellow creatures we have a responsibility. We are the first creatures who have knowingly almost destroyed themselves. Climate science can overwhelm us, or make us cynical, but there’s Christian hope.

We have to be offering, not condemning people for what they’re doing but actually showing people that there is a different way, empowering people to live a different way. If you present everything in purely scientific ways people turn off with the figures, people know what we have to do, but actually there needs to be poetry, sport, music, worship. It needs to be culture that changes people’s lifestyles.

Science is never going to do that. We know the science and we’re not doing anything. Unless living more simply makes us happy we’re never going to do it.”


Sr Sue in Korea (Part 2)

Further news from Korea:

Sunday May 8th was Parents’ Day in Korea, and according to custom parents and elders are presented with red carnations as a token of respect and gratitude. Sue was given carnations over breakfast at Il-Seon-Ri!Sue with her carnations from the Sisters on Parents' Day

Later in the morning Srs Sue, Frances and Jemma took part in the service at Grace Church West Daegu, at the invitation of Bishop Onesimus.  Frances played the organ and led the singing, which was special as the church doesn’t normally have anyone to lead the music,  and Sue preached with Jemma interpreting. As well as celebrating Parents’ Day the church received 2 new members, one man formerly a Presbyterian, the other a Roman Catholic.

Sue preaching and Jemma interpreting at West Daegu Frances playing the organ at West Daegu

Sr Sue in Korea

Sister Sue is in South Korea with Srs Frances and Jemma until May 11th.  On May 1st the sisters were glad to accept an invitation to attend the 100th Anniversary celebrations of Won Buddhism (Won means Circle), at Seoul Stadium.

Platform at Won Buddhism celebration Founding motto of Won Buddhism 100th Anniversary of Won Buddhism 1st May at Seoul Stadium






On May 2nd the CSF Korean Regional Chapter was held at Holy Cross convent with Sr Catherine SHC interpreting, and Brother Laurence representing SSF.

CSF Korean Regional Chapter with Brother Lawrence SSF

On Wednesday evening Sr Sue and Sr Jemma joined the Dean, Sr Frances and the other Seminarians for Franciscan Evening Prayer in the Anglican Seminary Chapel, and Sister Sue was gave a homily. It was the students’ first experience of a Franciscan Office, and they were very appreciative.  Afterwards the Sisters shared with the students over a sandwich supper,

Franciscan Evening Prayer at the Seminary With the Dean Fr Jeremiah, and the 1st year seminarians in their chapel at the Anglican University

On Ascension Day, which this year was also Childrens’ Day, a national holiday in Korea,  the sisters worshipped at Cheonan Church in Daejeon Diocese at a Eucharist led by Bishop Moses, Bishop of Daejeon, and Sr Sue was asked to speak briefly to the congregation.

Br Reginald SSF – 96 Years young!

Br Reginald celebrated his birthday in style over the weekend. On Saturday Brothers from the Friary were taken for a lovely meal by good friends and then, on Sunday, the Celebrations continued with a lovely meal and a glass of ‘something’ before lunch.


reg 96 001

reg 96 005

First Profession at Alnmouth

Br Michael Jacob made his Profession in First Vows at a Eucharist held in Alnmouth Friary today. Br Benedict (the Minister Provincial) Celebrated the Eucharist and received Michael Jacob’s vows and Br John (the Guardian of Alnmouth) preached. To mark Br Michael Jacob’s Profession the Novice Rope with its one knot was replaced with the Traditional three knotted rope.

The Eucharist was attended by over seventy people many of whom had travelled a considerable distance to be with Michael Jacob. We were particularly pleased to welcome members of his family from Wales.


Br Benedict receives Br Michael Jacob’s vows


Br Michael Jacob’s Novice rope is removed.

At the reception afterwards...

At the reception afterwards…

The blessing of the ‘mobile monastery’

IMG_0158The ‘mobile monastery’ was blessed by  the bishop of Leicester, the Right Revd Tim Stevens on Monday 22ndJune in Bushy Park, opposite St Matthew’s house in Leicester. Sisters joined Beverley and Chris James, from Birmingham, London and Metheringham, friends from Leicester and further afield also attended.

The rain began to pour ten minutes before the service so about 15 of us squashed into the ‘van’ while others gathered around the entrance. After the service the sun came out and we stood outside the van and had tea and chocolate cake! Children from the local primary school and their mothers came into the park and some of the children came up to the ‘van’ thinking we were selling ice cream! The balloons were given to the Mothers later for the children to take home.

The vision for this project has now come to fruition through a Trust Fund giving funding for a 3 year WP_20150622_15_15_58_Properiod.

The idea  for the project is for Anglican Religious to be more mobile and visible, to attend Summer festivals, visit schools, encourage people in their faith journey, to visit theological colleges, clergy conferences, and other events within dioceses.

As well as Franciscan sisters and brothers taking part in this project, other members of Religious Communities will be asked to help out too.

Beverley CSF


The Order of Service for the Blessing may be downloaded as a Word document here.

A short video of the Blessing may be found here.

Sr Sue visits Korea.

In April Sue spent 2 weeks in Korea visiting Frances and Jemma, the CSF sisters there. They have now lived in their purpose built traditional Korean style convent at Il-Seon-Ri near Gumi for one year, and have planted a small garden around it. Alongside their other ministries they are members of Samsohoe, a movement of sisters and nuns from different faiths in Korea, who meet together regularly to share concerns and pray for peace. During Sue’s visit the group met at Holy Cross Convent in Seoul. The sisters – Anglican, Roman Catholic and Protestant Christians, and Buddhists of different traditions talked together about justice and peace issues, and sang a Korean version of St. Francis’ Canticle of the Sun. They also spent time in silent prayer for peace. Jemma was across the room, but Frances and Sue are in the picture.

Samsohoe 21.4.15 at Holy Cross

Samsohoe meeting.

In September Frances and Jemma will be visiting UK to join all the sisters and brothers for the European Province’s General Chapter, where the theme will be “Faith to Faith: Franciscans in a multi-faith society.” As there are no CSF sisters elsewhere in that part of the world the two Korean sisters are part of CSF’s European Province, and obviously both UK and Korea are multi-faith societies, though in very different ways.

Jemma in the garden at Il-Seon-Ri

Jemma in the garden at Il-Seon-Ri

In Seoul Sue also had the opportunity to connect briefly with Brothers Stephen and Raphael who are part of the Korean SSF community at Gangchon Friary. They are members of the Province of the Divine Compassion which encompasses the SSF brothers New Zealand, Australia, Sri Lanka as well as Korea.

Alnmouth Brothers visit Sancta Maria Abbey, Nunraw.

Brothers from Alnmouth Friary set off earlier this morning for a visit to the Cistercian Abbey at Nunraw. The beautiful journey from Alnmouth, over the Scottish Border, to the beautiful county of East Lothian was bathed in sunshine and we arrived at the Abbey in time for Sext. Following Sext we went to the Refectory for a meal which was followed by some time for discussion in the library. Our visit finished with the singing of None after which there was more conversation and a chance to take some pictures.

We are most grateful to Abbot Mark and the Community for a lovely, restful day.






A new Novice for SSF

Peter receives a Blessing from Br Benedict

Peter receives a Blessing from Br Benedict

Peter receives the Statutes.

Peter receives the Statutes.









Our Postulant Peter Southall was clothed as a Novice today during Evening Prayer taking the name Peter Aidan. At the service, which was witnessed by a Chapel full of Peter’s friends, Peter was presented with the Statutes of the Society of St Francis, received a Blessing from the Minister Provincial (Br Benedict) and was clothed in the habit of St Francis.

Br Peter Aidan nSSF with Br Benedict SSF

Br Peter Aidan nSSF with Br Benedict SSF

Hilfield Community Volunteer film



The Hilfield Community have released a short video about volunteering as part of the Community. The video (which is in Youtube) may be viewed by clicking here. More information about Hilfield may be found  by clicking here.


The CSF sisters in South Korea are part of CSF’s European Province, and so are included on this website, whereas the SSF brothers belong to the Province of the Divine Compassion which may be accessed here.

Sr Jemma learning carpentry

Sr Jemma learning carpentry

Gumi Convent.

In the Gyeongsangbukdo Province of South Korea, in the Diocese of Busan, at the outskirts of Gumi, there is a beautiful and peaceful traditional Korean village where in 2014 we built a traditional Korean-style convent. Il-Seon-Ri is a model village, formed according to the principles of Confucian thought, and in this place the Korean Franciscan sisters have put down roots among the villagers, working to enable the budding forth of a new way of living that allows Confucianism and Christianity to co-exist side by side.  To people thirsty for rest and peace, tired out by the complexities of modern life, the sisters offer a warm welcome and friendship, prayer and the opportunity for spiritual guidance.  Through working for the welfare of young people and the production of clerical vestments, the Korean sisters are forming links with the church and the local community; and by actively welcoming those who wish to visit the convent, the ‘open days’ of Tuesday to Saturday provide an opportunity to share in the Daily Office and the day to day life of the convent.  With two guest rooms, the outer traditional form of the building is complemented by an interior with the comforts of modern living, and the guests are welcome to use the convent chapel, living room, garden, and common spaces of the house.


Outside the Convent in Il-Seon-Ri


Srs Frances (seated) and Jemma with visiting Sisters.









Sharing a meal

Sharing a meal

With Guests

With Guests








Taize service in chapel - Frances on keyboard (2)

Taize service in Chapel




Frances, Jemma and Stephen SSF at Seoul Franciscan Centre










삼소회 평화회의 합창사진

At a Samsoehoe interfaith gathering

 Samso Leaflet

Br Nicholas Alan’s sermon at the Profession in Alnmouth

Saturday 13th December 2014                                                                                                                                  Alnmouth Friary

Profession in Vows                                                                                                                        2 King 2: 9-14; Matthew 17:10-13

From now on, call nothing you own. As you are bound to Christ, so in him you are set free.

Today is a very important day for our four brothers: Cristian Michael, David, Micael Christoffer and Robert. They are about

Br Nicholas Alan preaching.

Br Nicholas Alan preaching.

to dedicate themselves to the service of our Lord Jesus Christ within the First Order of the Society of Saint Francis. Of course it is not a complete beginning; more than three years of training, first as a postulant and then as a novice, have hopefully given them a good idea of what they are committing themselves to. This is not a leap in the dark, but a clear-eyed decision and a commitment to take this next, significant step along the journey that we are already travelling together. So today we give thanks for your vocation.

It is also an important day for the whole community. Here in Britain we are known as the European Province of the Society of Saint Francis. As we steadily retreat to the heartlands of England, closing houses in Ireland, Wales and Scotland, calling ourselves the European Province has been something of a notional designation, an aspiration rather than a reality. But today Europe has come to us, and we are immeasurably enriched by the diverse life-paths of the brothers making their vows here today. In the early days of the Franciscan order, back in the time of St. Francis, language skills were not high among the accomplishments of the friars. Those going on the mission to Germany knew little more than the word ‘Ja’ for Yes, which was alright when people asked them if they were hungry or tired, but was not quite so useful when asked if they were heretics. Today we can count on missioners fluent in German, Swedish, Romanian and Arabic, not to mention various other European languages along the way.

Perhaps more significantly, here are four young men who have had time to get to know the community, and still feel that this is the place where God is calling them to be. This community, they and we believe, is the environment in which they can most flourish as people and as servants of God. That is a tremendous compliment to pay to your brothers and sisters in community: to say that this place will do, these people are good enough (if nothing more!), here are companions with whom to find true happiness and the salvation of our souls. It is a statement of faith, both in the God who gives us grace to live this life, and in this particular community, that it will continue to nurture your growth into the full stature of Christ, and enable you to give yourself most fully in the service of others. So I say ‘thank you’ for your faith in us, and for the faith of your families and friends who have entrusted you to us.

IMG_2005And we also have faith in you. Although the service we are enacting today is framed around your profession in vows, still it remains an expression of mutual commitment. Towards the end of the service the previously professed brothers and sisters affirm: ‘As we receive you into our fellowship and are united with you in the bonds of love in this earthly life, so may we, at the last, by the mercy of God, be joined together with all God’s faithful people in heaven.’ We receive you into our fellowship, though of course in so many ways you are already there, a part of us that we do not want to lose; and we pray that by God’s mercy this act of commitment may bring us all to full membership of God’s faithful people in heaven. Jesus once said that there will be no marrying or giving in marriage in heaven, so presumably there will be no Professions in Vows either, but our professions on this earth are none the less the expression and living out of a fellowship that will bring us all, together, through the good times and the bad, to rejoice in God’s company and the company of each other in God’s Kingdom forever. Maybe I shouldn’t have told you that. Maybe it has taken all your courage to work up to this one provisional first vow and the thought of eternity with these brothers and sisters may be more than you can cope with right now. But don’t worry; Jesus also said that there are many mansions in his Father’s kingdom, many friaries and hermitages. Somewhere up there is a friary built for you, or at least a cell with your name on the door, and a chapel at the end of the cloister that reaches up into the universe and beyond.    

From now on, call nothing you own. As you are bound to Christ, so in him you are set free.

I quoted that phrase at the beginning of this sermon, because for me it sums up so much of what is happening here today. It is IMG_1959spoken by the Minister, at perhaps the most dramatic moment of the service, when he throws to one side the single knotted rope of a novice, and replaces it with a rope knotted three times to represent the three vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Newly tied, and hopefully still able to breath, you will hear these words: From now on, call nothing you own. As you are bound to Christ, so in him you are set free. This is really our Rule of Life, our Bill of Rights and our Charter of Freedom. From now on, call nothing you own. What can that mean? Call nothing your own? Well, practically speaking, some things will inevitably remain your own. Please do call your socks your own, if you have any: that way they are more likely to get washed. Call your habit your own, if you wish, and make sure that it doesn’t get too frayed at the edges. (That is bound to happen in other ways during the course of community life.) But these words of the Minister are rather more radical in their implications.

Call nothing you own. This is really about the letting go, gradually or suddenly, of everything we hold dear, everything we are attached to, for good or for ill. It is a way of practicing for the great letting go that will happen to all of us when we pass from this life to the next.   Call nothing your own: this applies even to your sense of vocation, to the vows you are making today. Our vocation is not a personal possession to be defended at all costs. It is a communal process of discernment, a working out together of that which we believe is the will of God. Call nothing you own. That applies to your time, your talents, your energy, the overflowing gifts with which God has blessed you, which we have recognised within you and which you have shared with us. In the Eucharist at the offertory we often say: All things come from you, O Lord, and of your own do we give you. This making of vows which we practice together is a way of making an offering of our lives, making ourselves a Eucharist, a thanksgiving, and a place where Christ is made real in flesh and blood.

And we cannot do this on our own. We need the example of St. Francis and St. Clare, in their self-abandonment to God in poverty and joy; we need the courage of our Blessed Lady Mary, and her Yes to the incredible call to let God come to birth within her through the Holy Spirit; and we need each other to realise that we truly are all in this together, that there is no individual salvation to be worked out on our own, that we live or die as a fellowship, a communion, a community made one in the body of Christ.

In our readings from Scripture today we are given another role model to help us on our way. Jesus speaks, briefly, of John the Baptist, his cousin and forerunner, who lived out the role of Elijah preparing the way of the Lord. Francis himself was baptised John, in honour of the Baptist, according to the Franciscan theologian St. Bonaventure. And Francis saw himself as a messenger of peace and reconciliation, beginning his sermons with the words Pace e Bene, Peace and all Good. One of the stories about Francis tells how in the early days of his conversion he was confronted on a lonely road by a group of robbers who demanded to know who he was. ‘The Herald of the Great King’, Francis replied, and being penniless was pushed aside into a snowy ditch for his pains. Francis, like John, was a herald, a forerunner, someone who points to someone else, who deflects attention away from himself to another more powerful than he.

John the Baptist is in many ways an exemplar of the religious life, and particularly of the Franciscan friar. Here is someone who dispossesses himself of all things, who goes out into the desert to fast and to pray, but then returns to preach the good news: The Kingdom of God is at hand! God’s presence is in our midst! In John’s Gospel, the Baptist says of Jesus: ‘He must increase, but I must decrease.’ (Jn.3:30) That would be a good motto for us all as Christians, but especially for those of us who are professed brothers and sisters of St. Francis. In icons, John the Baptist is always seen pointing away from himself, deflecting attention to Jesus. Don’t look at me, he seems to be saying, Look at Him, look at Jesus. He must increase, but I must decrease. This is still what we are being called to do: to show people Jesus, to lead people to the one in whom they can find salvation.

And John the Baptist, proclaiming the way of the Lord, was himself re-enacting the role of another archetype of the religious life, the Old Testament prophet Elijah. In our intriguing reading from the Second Book of Kings, Elijah is taken up to heaven in a whirlwind, leaving Elisha his disciple gazing up in wonder at the fast disappearing chariot and horses of fire. Elijah, like John, was one who went out into the desert, and it was there that he found God in the sheer silence at the mouth of a cave. At our monastery in Worcestershire we used to have a hermit living not in a cave but in a hut at the bottom of the garden. His name was Brother Ramon. He rarely came up to the house, but he did come up to preach at my own profession in first vows 15 years ago. I can still hear his rolling Welsh consonants echoing in my head. I always wanted to say to him before he died: ‘Grant me to inherit a double share of your spirit!’ But I never did, nor did I see him ascend into heaven in a whirlwind, in a chariot of fire. Perhaps he did, but I wasn’t there.

But in a way we are all Elisha’s to the Elijah’s who go before us. We all of us have a chance to pick up the mantle, or the habit, of those who have gone before us, and to strike the waters before us with a cry of: ‘Where is the Lord, the God of Ramon?’ Or the God of Martin? Or the God of Nathanael? Perhaps you should try this with these new ropes after the service: go to the causeway leading to Holy Island at high tide, strike the water and cry: ‘Where is the Lord, the God of St. Francis, of Fr. Algy and Br. Douglas?’ Perhaps the waters will part; if you wait long enough it will happen anyway with the turn of the tide. (Most things do.) But don’t wait too long or you might get swept out to sea. In fact I think you would do better to find first the true River Jordan that each of you has to cross. Because now the journey begins in earnest. It may feel as though at last you have arrived: you are about to become a professed brother in the Society of St. Francis. But that is only the beginning. Now you have to cross the river, whatever the river is to you: to call nothing your own, and to let everything else float away down the river and out into the vast ocean. Now is the time to stand alongside Moses at the Red Sea, Joshua at the River Jordan, and Jesus as he crossed the icy waters of death to re-emerge new-born on the other side. But hold onto this habit and rope. Treat it as a heavenly garment fallen from a chariot of fire, entrusted to you by the prophet Elijah himself. May this rope bind you to Christ and so set you free; and may you in your freedom bring all people to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ our Lord.   Amen.


Br David Jardine SSF “Quiet Peacemakers”

A portrait of Br David Jardine SSF appeared in an exhibition of portraits by Susan Hughes entitled ‘Quiet Peacemakers.’ The exhibition, which was held in the Duncairn Centre for Culture and the Arts consisted of thirty five portraits of those termed the ‘unsung heroes’ by the Lord Mayor of Belfast Nichola Mallan. The men and women portrayed in the exhibition had all contributed to the forging of peace in Northern Ireland over the past troubled decades.

Br David Jardine with his portrait

Br David Jardine with his portrait



Br David Jardine praying at a healing service.

“Tea and Taize” – a new initiative in Byker.

The Brothers of St Anthony’s Friary in Byker have begun a new initiative entitled “Taize and Tea.” The services (which are about 45 minutes long) are held in St Anthony’s Church in Byker. There will services on Saturday 15th November and Saturday 6th December both starting at 4.00pm


Taize Poster