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Community Routes

Community Routes

The Hope within us

Gina writes:

Gina in St Helen’s Church with the Prayer Focus in the Labyrinth

For eight days from Pentecost until Trinity Sunday 2016 the parish of Abingdon-on-Thames hosted a week of exploring, explaining and celebrating the Christian faith entitled ‘The Hope within Us.’

An ambitious range of events was on offer at the three churches of St Helen’s, St. Nicholas’ and St Michael and All Angels’, with the intention of exploring the theme in a variety of mediums. This included a lecture series entitled “The Heart of our Hope : the Apostles Creed” given by Fr James Harvey SJ, Dr Mary Marshall, Professor Paul Fiddes, the Rev Douglas Dales and Professor John Barton; an icon writing workshop, ‘Painting the Face of the Invisible God’ with Philip Davydov and Olga Shalamova who had come from Russia; evening ‘Conversations’ with such illustrious people as Clifford Longley, Rupert Shortt, Professor Keith Ward and Bishop Rowan Williams; two concerts, and finally, a School of Prayer led by myself who has no title other than Sister and could contribute nothing to the ‘Written by the Speakers’ book sales table in the local bookshop!

However, the five afternoon workshops were well received by the 20–26 participants, and they were very engaged and responsive. The rector said that the talks were accessible and full of wisdom and people have requested copies of the script, so I guess over fifty years of trying to pray has taught me something worth passing on. I felt privileged to contribute my widow’s mite to the wealth of erudition on offer through the week. The School of Prayer concluded with an evening of Taizè-style  Prayer and Praise and a short reflection.

The whole week culminated with a joyful Festival Eucharist at which Rowan Williams was the celebrant and preacher.

JPIC Conference

Hilary writes:

Hugh and I attended the annual ecumenical, though largely Roman Catholic, JPIC Links weekend Conference, in April 2016. The theme was ‘Reconciling Mercy and Justice’ and the leader was Dr Mary Grey who has held a number of University chairs in the University of Wales, Southampton and Nijmegen. Mary has written in the areas of social justice, ecology, liberation theology, and reconciliation in diverse contexts, and her work in social justice is underpinned by over 25 years of involvement in a charity she helped to found, ‘Wells for India’; she is also Chair of Living Stones of the Holy Land Trust, an organization working for the wellbeing of Christians in Palestine and the Middle East.  Alongside her spoken input there were Power Point presentations, including many of her own photos of the places and situations about which she spoke.

In her first session Becoming Mystical Communities she explored the meaning of mysticism ‘asking if mysticism can be a community dimension, if we can stop seeing it as solely the privilege of a monastic, clerical elite, then asking if it could be restored to the people, the believing community –  what difference would it make?  After all, the primary meaning of mysticism is the contemplation of the mysteries, the mysteries of God – and that is the heart of the liturgy, the peoples’ work.’  She explored this at length.

The second session explored Community as Prophet, asking Who are the prophetic figures for you? Who are prophets for you?  She spoke of the need for the embodiment, earthing of alternatives to the cultural currents. ‘One hint that we are right in the search for community as prophet is that many prophets are not isolated figures but are supported by strong movements, people on whom they rely and who sustain them.’

In Mercy in the Christian tradition, Mary traced the history of mercy throughout the Bible especially Jesus’ teaching and action, and then through Christian history, showing how mercy could lead to a new social order; ‘active compassion with political consequences’.

Her fourth session explored the teaching in Laudato Si – Pope Francis’ Encyclical letter, An Eco-Theology of Connectedness, Communion and Justice.  She traced the history of human interactivity with the created world with reference to the Franciscan tradition, Liberation Theology, the need to live simply and in solidarity with the poorest of the world. ‘Joy in enough’ – a challenge to Christians (in Britain), and an invitation to all people of good will, to join in building a just economy within the ecological limits of the Earth’

Finally, she traced Jesus’ way of non- violence as a challenge to the present day, in particular with reference to the Israeli/Palestinian situation. One in three of the world’s refugees is Palestinian:  approximately seven million. This is an area where she has been very involved socially over the years.

It is not really possible to give more than a ‘taster’ of what became the basis of a lot of discussion in groups or with individuals over the weekend. I think we all went away with a lot to pray and think about over the coming months.

Manchester University Mission

David writes:

Br David with his ‘ask me’ sign.

From 2-4 March 2016, St Peter’s University Chaplaincy hosted a Franciscan Festival right in the centre of the university community in Manchester. The event was organised by university chaplain Terry Biddington and Tertiary Simon Cocksedge. Brothers Nicholas Alan, David and Robert joined in during three eventful days filled with worship, lectures, meals and lots of informal conversations with students or others who we came across.

One of the main events during the week was the so called ‘Monk on the Street’, when we wandered around the campus encouraging students to ask us questions and giving out free ‘spiritual health checks’. Unfortunately the weather was not on our side during this event. The rain and snow made it at times difficult to engage with students, as they were rushing from one lecture to another, but nevertheless we were still able to have some good conversations.

St Peter’s Chaplaincy is a great place in a very vibrant part of Manchester and we were very grateful for the opportunity to join them in ministering to students, even if it was only for a few days.

 

Marching for the love of God and neighbour

Robert writes:

The SSF Working Group for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation joined about 100,000 people in London on 16 April to march for ‘Health, Homes, Jobs and Education’. In a

Brs Hugh, Micael and Robert with Matthew Callow (formerly Br Matthew)

very good atmosphere a colourful group of people came together, including teachers, nurses, junior doctors, a wide range of community groups (like the Kurdish-Turkish Community Centre), firemen and firewomen, students, post men and women, womens’ rights campaigners, trade unionists, various party activists, peace campaigners and many more. Sadly, Christian groups with similar concerns were not really represented, but we had many good conversations with people (usually starting with ‘Are you real monks?’), whilst we imagined that our prayers kept the rainy clouds at bay and made the sun come out reluctantly from time to time. We even had an unexpected re-union with former Brother Matthew and some Tertiaries. Altogether it felt like a worthwhile thing to do and people really seemed to appreciate a Franciscan presence at the march.

Three Confessions pilgrimage

Despite the topic of one of the theme articles, this was not a sacrament of that kind.

Robert writes:

Three Confessions Pilgrimage

At the beginning of May, a delegation of Anglicans, Lutherans and Catholics met in Kloster Drübeck in northern Germany to have an exchange about Pilgrimage. This conference is part of a lively ecumenical dialogue between the Anglican Diocese of Worester, the Lutheran Diocese of Magdeburg and the Catholic Dioceses of Birmingham and Erfurt. Worcester Diocese was keen to have its religious houses represented, so Brother Michael OSB went on behalf of Mucknell and Robert came as an honorary Glasshampton Brother.

In good old tradition, Anglicans were representing the middle way. Whilst (German) Lutherans had done away with things like pilgrimage a long time ago, Catholics were entirely at home with it and Anglicans had a foot in both camps; however it was noticeable that Lutherans tried to reclaim a bit of lost heritage in a way that fits with their theology. Thus we met in an old monastery that was dissolved in the Reformation era, but has now been turned into a spiritual hub and retreat facility for Lutherans. There you can find all sorts of things, which once used to be fairly bizarre for the average Lutheran in Germany, such as icons on the walls, depictions of the Blessed Virgin, and Prayer of the Hours.

The English contingent was greeted with great warmth by the Germans, and it was lovely to see such a vibrant ecumenical dialogue in action. After an initial exchange about different ways of pilgrimage, we were hitting the road. Led by Brother Hubert OSB from the local Huysburg Abbey, we went through the beautiful Harz mountains, part in silence, part talking, interrupted by stations with some input. When we finally reached Huysburg, we were greeted with bells and joined the monks for Vespers. On the way back, one of the local Catholics driving our bus, kindly stopped in Halberstadt, so we could quickly drop into the local OFM house. On Sunday morning, we joined the local Lutheran parish for a mixed language service, where Archdeacon Rob Jones celebrated the Eucharist in the Anglican rite. It is probably safe to say, that at the end, we all felt enriched, by the input, as well as by the people we had met.

Round up

James Douglas moved from Glasshampton to Hilfield in June.  Cristian Michael will move to Leeds (around 25th July); Christian is moving to Crofton Road on the closure of the Canning Town friary at the end of August and Philip Bartholomew is also moving to Crofton Road after his holiday and break.

We have the new house in Leeds, over the back from the Karnac Road house. It is at 42 Rossall Road.

Richard Fryer has withdrawn from the noviciate.

In the Province of the Divine Compassion, the brothers have decided to close the Hamilton (New Zealand) friary, and Damian Kenneth hopes that he will soon move into Tamahere Retirement Village.  f