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Church of the Poor? Franciscans at the Church Action on Poverty Conference

Br Robert writes:

On the 19th of November, Church Action on Poverty (CAP) gathered its supporters for its annual conference at the Unitarian Cross Street Chapel in Manchester. Among them were two First Order Brothers and two Tertiaries one of whom, Helen Hood TSSF, serves  as one of the Trustees. It was also a nice surprise to bump into Brother Fabian nCR. As it turns out, we are not the only Anglican religious community supporting CAP!

img_0021CAP felt inspired by Pope Francis, who recently said: ‘How I wish, that there was a church of the poor.’ We started by listening to poetry, which was created in a local Creative Writing Project, where people could articulate the joys and frustrations of their lives. Then various different groups and people were given a chance, to give presentations: contributions ranged from a congregation who had opened their door to the homeless, a Baptist Minister who founded an alternative church in an area of deprivation and an Evangelical Pastor who presented his research on the ‘Myth of the undeserving Poor.’ Following this we broke into round table groups discussing how we could transform our churches into places of and for the poor.

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Lunch was a good opportunity to meet and catch up with people. In the afternoon, we saw a panel discussion deepening our conversation, followed by more round table discussions and a final plenum. At that point, it was time for the AGM and about half of the audience discretely sneaked away. It felt like an enriching day, at which the Franciscan presence was well appreciated. We are looking forward to a growing partnership between SSF and CAP.

General Chapter

From Monday 7th September until Friday 11th September the majority of Sisters and Brothers from the First Order of the Society of St Francis met in the King’s Park Conference Centre (Northampton) for the General Chapter. The theme for this General Chapter was engaging with people of non-Christian Faiths and we had the great privilege of meeting people from the Buddhist, Jewish and Muslim Faiths. On Tuesday morning Fr Damian Howard SJ delivered a most interesting lecture on Islam suggesting that we should not be afraid to engage our Muslim friends and neighbours in conversation about our Faiths. In the afternoon we heard a thought provoking lecture on Buddhism given by Ajahn Amaro who is the Abbot of the Amaravati Buddhist Monastery. On Wednesday morning Dr Jane Williams gave two sessions on two meditations on passages of Scripture which suggest a possible framework for co-operation with people of other faiths and then on Wednesday afternoon two expeditions were organised, one to Amaravati Buddhist Monastery and the other to the Benedictine Monastery in Turvey. On Thursday morning we were introduced by Professor David Ford to the practice of ‘Scriptural Reasoning‘ (a way of discussing comparable passages of Scripture with people of other Faiths) and were then able to observe a Scriptural Reasoning session being conducted by Christians, Jews and Muslims. On Thursday evening we were fortunate to be joined by our Bishop Protector (Bishop Stephen Cottrell of the Diocese of Chelmsford) who celebrated Mass with us an delivered an entertaining and challenging sermon.

Sr Sue CSF, Sr Damien OSC, Brs Christian and Hugh SSF with Julie Siddiqui

Sr Sue CSF, Sr Damien OSC, Brs Christian and Hugh SSF with Julie Siddiqui

Sr Chris, Brs Jason and Malcolm sharing a cup of tea with Imam Ibrahim Mogra

Sr Chris, Brs Jason and Malcolm sharing a cup of tea with Imam Ibrahim Mogra

Franciscans at Greenbelt.

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Franciscans have attended Greenbelt since the 1980’s, often with members of other Anglican Religious Communities. Together they make Community on the campsite and invite Greenbelters to pray with them. This year Br Samuel will be animating the main Sunday Communion Service (more details here)

Treasures Old and New

A number of brothers and sisters were in Whitby this week for ‘Treasures Old and New’ – a conference bringing together members of religious communities, both traditional and new.

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With thanks to Tom Colbran for his permission to use this picture

Brothers attend National Climate March in London.

Brs Micael Christoffer,  Edmund and Hugh joined the National Climate March in London on 7th March. Starting with a service in St Mary le Strand organised by Operation Noah and Green Christian, we then joined Muslims, Jews and Christians in the Faith block of the march. In glorious sunshine, with perhaps 20,000 others, we ended with a rally at Parliament Square. Speakers were Caroline Lucas MP  and Naomi Klein, author of the recently published and much discussed This Changes Everything. The rally encouraged the nation to prepare for both the General Election and the UN Climate Summit this December in Paris.  The Photo also shows us with Angela Forbes TSSF outside Parliament. The next big climate event for us is likely to be the Christian Aid rally in London in June.

 

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Farewell to Bishop Michael Perham, retiring after nine years as our Protector.

Members of all three Orders of The Society of St Francis  from various parts of the country gathered at St Philip and St James Church Plaistow in east London on Monday 8th December for a Eucharist and lunch to celebrate the Feast of the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and to mark Bishop Michael’s retirement as Bishop Protector for the European Province of The Society of St. Francis, occasioned by his retirement as Bishop of Gloucester.

Br Benedict, the brothers’ Minister Provincial presided at the Eucharist, and Sr Helen Julian, CSF Minister General and former Minister Provincial, gave the homily. Sr Damien OSC, Abbess at Freeland, read the epistle, and Rev Joanna Coney TSSF, formerly Minister Provincial for the Third Order, who was representing Averil Swanton TSSF, the current Minister Provincial, read the gospel. Sr Sue CSF, the sisters’ Minister Provincial also took part in the service, and expressed the Society’s thanksgiving for Bishop Michael’s ministry with us, presenting him with gifts – a picture of the courtyard at Hilfield and book tokens, as a sign of our appreciation.

 

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Bishop Michael during the presentation, following the Eucharist.

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Bishop Michael and Brother Samuel, Guardian of the Hilfield Community, holding Minna Harvey’s picture of the Courtyard. Sr Sue and Sr Damien can be seen in the background.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back in June Bishop Stephen Cottrell, Bishop of Chelmsford, was chosen by all three Orders as the new Bishop Protector, to take over at Bishop Michael’s retirement.  We are very grateful to Bishop Stephen for agreeing to take on this role, and look forward to his ministry among us.

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Bishop Stephen Cottrell

National Justice and Peace Network Conference 2013

 

 

Caroline Ugbo, Paul Bodenham and Br Joseph Emmanuel were at the National Justice and Peace Network Conference in Swanwick. Many Catholic organisations were represented there including Pax Christi, CAFOD and the Jesuit Refugee Service (with whom Br Joe works). During the conference the dreadful treatment of Africans kidnapped whilst attempting to cross the Sinai desert was highlighted. If you haven’t signed the petition on www.stopsinaitorture.org please consider doing so.

 

 

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