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COMMUNITY ROUTES

Community Routes

Treasures Old and New

As a result of a day gathering in 2014 when invited ‘new monastic’ and ‘traditional’ religious communities met with the Archbishop of Canterbury, a three-day conference entitled ‘Treasures Old and New’ was offered to a wider group of Anglicans towards the end of April 2015. This was held at the Order of the Holy Paraclete’s guest house at Whitby. One hundred people were present: from vowed religious orders, dispersed vowed communities such as our Third Order, dispersed communities which have been in existence for some time and others for only a short time; small residential communities with a clear focus such as that providing hospitality at Holy Rood House near Thirsk; and people exploring the possibility of setting up residential parish-based communities or beginning life with others in dispersed communities.

The common factors seemed to be that people were responding to the wind of the Spirit, wanting to learn from one another, and to share something of their life together in Christ with a group of people in a more intentional way than usually happens in our churches. The noise level at meal times and tea/coffee breaks was considerable as this exchange of interest went on! The ‘sessions’ were mostly based on led meditations, which were followed by individual reflection time, and there were small group meetings each day where there was the opportunity to share more of our community experience and aspirations. All three of our Franciscan orders were represented at the conference, including Benedict, Christine James, Cristian Michael, Gina, Hilary, Hugh, James Douglas, Michael Jacob, Maureen and Sue from the First Order, Margaret Mary from the Community of St Clare, and tertiaries from various parts of the country. The last plenary session provided suggestions to be followed up by the Bishops’ Advisory Panel on the Religious Life, an appeal for a more inclusive organisation under the Anglican Religious Communities umbrella, and the request for another conference!

CoR

Sue writes:

In May, I was one of four Anglican Associates attending the annual residential meeting of the Conference of Religious in England and Wales – a gathering of nearly 120 leaders of Roman Catholic Religious Communities.

Two sessions led by Archbishop José Rodriguez Carballo OFM, Secretary for the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, were a highlight of the conference. In his current role, Archbishop Carballo, who is a former Minister General of the Order of Friars Minor, takes the lead in matters relating to The Year of the Consecrated Life, which runs until Candlemas 2016. He greeted the Anglicans present especially, and said that The Ecumenical Symposium on the Consecrated Life had shown him how much we all have in common. This was the gathering in Rome in January 2015 at which Clark Berge presented a paper on Religious Life in the Anglican Tradition, and in which Joyce and Desmond Alban also participated.

Archbishop Carballo re-emphasised some of the core values of Consecrated Life identified by Pope Francis in his ‘Letter to All Consecrated People’. Certain phrases especially resonated for me as the archbishop shared his reflections on gratitude, passion, hope, gospel, prophecy, and joy.

‘Falling in love is the only thing that can keep the consecrated life aflame’.

‘Our fundamental mission is to be a living exposition of the life of the poor humble Christ’.

‘Joy because we know ourselves to be loved, called and sent’.

Assessing the current concerns about the future of Consecrated Life the archbishop commended a realistic attitude in which two key words are crisis and winter. Crisis means a time of decision, and whether the outcome is good or bad depends on the specific decisions we choose. Winter seems to be a season of death, but unseen processes are taking place deep in the soil at root level, which ensure the life of the plant. In this situation two qualities are necessary: clarity and discernment. Clarity requires us not merely to formulate ideals, but to take concrete steps to make them more real in our lives. Discernment, necessary both at an individual and Community level, asks what we must do to further God’s will, and requires us to be available to God, ready to be guided. Our discernment must be shaped by the gospel, our charism, and the signs of the times. As Francis said ‘I have done what was mine to do, may God show you what is yours’. Moreover we always need to live out our charism collaboratively, in relationship with others whose gifts, traditions and ethos are different.

In conclusion the archbishop commended the prayerful reading of Scripture ‘which makes miracles in community’, deep sharing of life and faith, and the role of ‘fraternal correction’.

On the streets…

Franciscans ‘Speak up for the love of…

The Climate Coalition, a group of charities and faith groups that includes Christian Aid, organised a mass lobby of parliament for 17 June. Around 9,000 constituents were there and about 250 MPs were lobbied. The lobby was timed to meet the recently elected parliament, and in good time before the international conference on climate change in Paris in December. We were there to tell our MPs that it is vital that Britain does all it can to persuade the nations of the world to come to a deal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – something they failed to do at the 2009 conference in Copenhagen.

Franciscans of the First and Third Orders were well represented in the crowd. Hugh, along with Hilfield Friary Community members Jonathan and Daniel had come with a coach group from Dorset; Maureen came from Metheringham, Edmund from Plaistow, Micael Christoffer from Canterbury, and Sue and Gina came from across the river in Southwark. We were asked to speak up for the love of the good things our planet supports that could be spoilt by climate change – hence the title of the day, Speak up for the love of…

We Franciscans began the day at an ecumenical service at the packed St Margaret’s Westminster, a church where Politics and Prayer have mingled for centuries. The preacher, the Bishop of Salisbury, Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, said: ‘This is not just our individual concern. It is our Christian concern together as the church. It is the concern of people of all faiths. It is our human concern in solidarity with all people. The world is our home.’ He praised the Pope’s Encyclical, and also the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lambeth Declaration on Climate Change.

After the service we walked a short distance, in lovely sunny weather, to meet our MPs by the stretch of the Thames from the House of Commons and over Lambeth Bridge. Some of them arrived in rickshaws that the organisers had laid on. Later in the afternoon, there was a rally on Millbank.

The Lambeth Declaration, which can be found at http://tinyurl.com/o9potgv, was launched on the same day. In it, signatories call on faith communities to recognise the pressing need to make the transition to a low carbon economy.

The lobby was co-incidentally on the eve of the publication of the Pope’s Encyclical on climate change and the terrible consequences for our planet if we do not change our lifestyles. While the encyclical is unusually addressed to all human beings, not just to Catholics, it is of particular interest to Franciscans as it is entitled Laudato Si (Be Praised), the opening words of St Francis’ Canticle of the Creatures.

Protest against austerity

Robert writes:

On 21 June, 250,000 people (according to the police estimate) gathered at the Bank of England to march down to Parliament Square in protest against the Austerity policies of the government. What was remarkable was the broad range of people that formed this coalition in the streets. It went from rather extreme left wing groups to Labour, included the Green Party and various climate activist groups, Feminists, Pacifists, Students, Trade Unionists, community groups etc. Famous artists like Russell Brand and Charlotte Church gave their support, next to politicians like Caroline Lucas, Diane Abbot and Jeremy Corbyn. Only the number of open unapologetic Christians could be improved. Nevertheless, there were countless opportunities to explain to curious members of a rather secular crowd what Franciscan life is all about and to have general conversations about Jesus, religion and God. Altogether, it was a very positive and encouraging atmosphere, that at times felt a bit like a party because music was a prominent feature of the march and the final rally in Parliament Square. As we are facing the prospect of ‘permanent Austerity’ (David Cameron, Guild Hall speech 2013) under the new government, this march was only a preliminary step to build up a movement. It would be great, if the Church would play a prominent role in it.

In a ‘mobile monastery’

page 11 campervan whole group cropped

Beverley’s vision of a campervan as a base for meeting people, carrying resources and being ‘home’ for a couple of days at a time to a group of two or three Francisans, which would also get us out and about more and be a way of promoting the religious life, finally became a reality with the purchase of a vehicle earlier this year. The campervan was blessed by the Bishop of Leicester on 22 June, and is ready for the road. Any one who is interested in booking the van and a team, should contact Beverley at St Matthew’s House, Leicester. 

Round up

Johannes Maertens who is life professed with a Belgian Benedictine community has joined us in order to test his vocation to the Franciscan way of life. He is initially living at the Alnmouth friary.

It is hoped that Eric Michael will come to the European Province, from the Province of the Americas, some time in the Autumn, the date being dependent on when his visa is granted.

Damian has moved to Alnmouth, Thomas Anthony to Newcastle and Kentigern John to Hilfield. Benedict has moved to Leeds, which he will use as his base for being Minister Provincial.

In September, James Douglas and Peter Aidan will move to Glasshampton, and Michael Jacob to Alnmouth.

Desmond Alban is moving to the Province of the Americas for a time, to assist with novice formation there. f