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Community Routes

A Bacon Scholar

Austin writes:-

Although I have just finished and been awarded an MA in Theology, the subject matter was Franciscan Studies.  My interest in it began in 1990 when I studied for the Franciscan Diploma at the Franciscan International Study Centre in Canterbury.  My enthusiasm grew from then on and when I came to Canterbury in 2003, and found a couple of years later that the MA was being offered at FISC, I soon asked for permission to enrol.

In the first year there were only four students, two of us Anglicans.  As it was a taught course we chose various options, mine were:- Clare, Writings of Francis, Franciscan Sources, Franciscan Reform and Division and the Franciscan Intellectual tradition, each with a long essay.  We were also allowed to ‘audit’ other modules and one on Franciscan Christology I found interesting but I’m glad I didn’t have to do an essay on it!

My work on the MA slowed dramatically after I was appointed Master of Eastbridge, such that Christopher John started his MA a year after me and finished a year before me.  But I got there in the end after applying for an extension, with evidence from my employer at Eastbridge (the Archbishop!) that my work was delaying my studies.

The largest part of the MA was a long dissertation and I chose to research and write on Roger Bacon, a thirteenth century scientist and friar.  Coming from a scientific background in my pre-SSF days was one reason I was interested in him but mainly I chose Bacon as a subject because my tutor considered him to be ‘more of a crank than a genius’.  This view I felt was completely wrong and by reading and researching widely, I believe I refuted his view.  When I looked through the vast amount Bacon wrote there are gems of quite original research and there are conclusions of his that were centuries ahead of his time.

I felt that Bacon’s main aim in his long life as scientist and friar was being missed by later philosophers and theologians on the one hand and scientists on the other.  For certainly Bacon wasn’t a first rate philosopher, theologian or scientist; but he was not trying to be any of those.  I believe he was an early worker in the science and religion debate such that he was trying to put scientific study and conclusions of science in the service of religion and the Church.  I concluded that he could be seen as an heir of St Augustine of Hippo who believed that science and philosophy could become the servants and handmaidens of religion.

Thankfully the three markers of the dissertation seemed to agree that I had made my argument, and passed it.  I will stop formal study at this point but not the continuing study of all things Franciscan for that is surely an ‘on-going’ task for us all.

Living Faith Week

Joseph Emmanuel writes:

Christopher Martin, Desmond Alban and Joseph Emmanuel were invited by the Rector of Witney, Fr Toby Wright, to participate in the week long ‘Living Faith Mission’, in May, and what a week it was!  From dawn (at least 9.00am morning prayer) until dusk (if not night) we were involved in a dizzying whirl of visits around the Parish.  The focus was on school visits so the majority of our time was spent in that context with teams of missioners visiting all of the primary schools in Witney and at least two senior schools.  In the primary schools we encouraged the children to think about Pentecost and invited them to join us for Messy Church on the Saturday (26 May) in St Mary’s.  For the older students we were less proscribed, taking part in a question and answer session during which we were asked some very complex and thought provoking questions including our understanding of the notion of truth and whether we thought the burqa should be banned in France!

We also had services in the evening including a well attended and moving healing service, coordinated by Desmond Alban, and an evening focusing on social justice at which three ‘foreign’ missionaries spoke about their own experiences in India, Sweden and South Africa.  Team building was another feature of the week and on one memorable occasion this involved fire walking (over wood ashes heated to around seven hundred degrees…) and learning to chop wooden blocks with the bare hand.  Needless to say this engendered a certain amount of interest in our young interlocutors and was a distraction from more weighty  theological matters!

We all felt that the week was a tremendous success and a privilege to be involved in such an enterprise.  It also bore testimony to the phenomenal enthusiasm for mission already present in the Parish of Witney and to the inspiring leadership of Fr Toby and his team.

Korea

Sue writes:

In May I made my first visit to our Korean CSF sisters Frances and Jemma, staying at their home in Gumi, and with them, in Seoul, and at the SSF Friary at Gangchon, where cleaning and repairs were well underway, following the explosion there ten days earlier.

 

CSF Korean Regional Chapter

CSF Korean Regional Chapter

It was a privilege to be with the sisters and to share something of their community life.  They currently occupy two small flats in adjacent blocks in downtown Gumi, but are in the process of building a convent in a nearby village, where they will be able to have guests and enable others to share in their life and worship more readily.  Bishop Onesimus of Busan, who recently became Bishop Protector for CSF in Korea, is very appreciative of the sisters and is providing support in various ways, including commending a fund-raising appeal among Korean Anglicans for their building project.  He attended their Regional Chapter held in Seoul during my visit, and afterwards commented on his diocesan website that it had been a very beautiful and encouraging meeting!  The sisters are very involved in the life of the Anglican Church in Gumi, which celebrated its tenth anniversary while I was there, and also more widely.  They are obviously held in high regard, and both exercise a significant pastoral ministry alongside their other work.

It is surely a joyful part of my task as Minister to visit the Korean sisters each year.  We hope that by the time of my next visit Frances and Jemma will have moved to Il-seon-ri, and will temporarily have fitted everything essential into one new building there while the second is being constructed. These are exciting and challenging times for the sisters, and they very much value our support and prayers.

Ecumenical dialogue in Assisi

Damian attended a conference in Assisi organised by Ecclesiological Investigations International Research Network.  He writes:

This initiative for an ecumenical and interfaith gathering in Assisi in April 2012 brought together 250 men and women from 55 countries, from the mainline Christian denominations and world faiths.  The task was to think outside the box, seeking pathways towards effective dialogue.  While the meeting included much diversity in culture and religious experience, the clear majority were Roman Catholic academics, some Anglicans certainly, but few Evangelicals, Pentecostals, Orthodox, and just token representation from other faith communities.

Assisi made an attractive venue and many admitted this was their very first visit or close encounter with its Saints.    There was one clear, shared motive – to search for means to revive positive energy towards the unity of the Church and improve inter-faith relations.  Fuelling these aims was a recognition that church-going Christians in the West were decreasing in numbers, while dramatically increasing in Asia, Africa and South America.

One of the popular members of this gathering was Peter Phan from Vietnam who reminded us of the introductory words commending ecumenism to the Second Vatican Council.  This warned that our divisions oppose the will of God, bring scandal before the world and damage our effectiveness in mission.

As we studied recent history we noted the mega shifts towards justice, peace and human dignity brought through Martin Luther King in America and Nelson Mandela in South Africa.  From Northern Ireland, Paul Arthur described how the Peace Agreement was achieved by both official and unofficial, informal meetings, the latter initially in secret, sharing free time together, telling family stories, placing no restrictions on the agenda.  That approach to peace brought progress that was then fed back into the official talks.  “Track 2 fed Track 1” to build up trust so as to provide the basis for peaceful coexistence.  We heard, too, from a Jewish American who had renounced his ‘right’ to a settlement place in Israel today.  He is working with Palestinians on principles based on the Kairos Report that brought hope to Soweto – principles that have since been applied to many a nation’s conflicts since: “seeing the face of God in the other”.

Post-modern thought is by definition fluid and not dogmatic.  Progress will not be made by focusing on Creeds, but rather be picked up through paths of pilgrimage, openness, moving away from suspicion towards appreciation.  We were reminded of St. Francis who first heard God’s call to rebuild San Damiano Church; it was only later he came to understand he was being called to rebuild and renew the whole vision of God for his people.  Similarly we may need to revisit our responses to this call to ecumenism.

Lastly, when we met together in St Clare’s Basilica to hear about “those who hold the incomparable treasure” (Clare’s words to Agnes of Prague) the Conference settled into a profound corporate silence, as if we had recognised more deeply that God’s purposes cannot be achieved without that close, inner encounter with his indwelling Spirit,  enlightening all that had been said, proposed and purposed.  It was a privilege to attend.

Round up

Vaughan made his profession in First Vows at the Friary of the Divine Compassion, Plaistow, on 7 July.  Beverley was ordained priest by the Bishop of Leicester, in Leicester Cathedral, on 30 June.

Nicholas Alan was installed as an honorary canon of Worcester Cathedral at Evensong on 18 May.  Giles and Raphael marked the fiftieth anniversary of their ordinations to the priesthood on 16 June with a celebratory Eucharist at Hilfield friary.

Giles moved to Hilfield in May.  In July, Benedict moved to the Canning Town  friary and Barnabas Francis to Canterbury.  Shortly before Francistide (4 October), Joseph Emmanuel will move to Canning Town, Christopher Martin to Leeds, Cristian Michael to Bentley, and David, Micael Christoffer and Robert to Glasshampton.  Three men have been accepted as aspirants and will begin their postulancy at Alnmouth in September.

Teresa is now happily settled in a residential care home in Birmingham.  It is the same care home as Angela Helen is in, making it easier for the sisters in Birmingham to keep in contact with them both.

Jennifer Chan left CSF when her time in first profession came to an end in February, 2012.  She has since made her vow in the Consecrated Single Life before Archbishop Roger Herft in Perth, Australia.  She is being mentored by our brothers in the Province of the Divine Compassion and is continuing her ministries with the Cathedral in Kuching.

Also in other provinces, elections have resulted in new Ministers Provincial: Christopher John in the Province of the Divine Compassion, Clifton Henry in the Province of the Solomon Islands, and Oswald Dumbari in the Papua New Guinea Province.  f