Festivals/Seasons & Holy Days

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).

Monthly Archives: May 2013

Hope out of chaos weekend at Hilfield Friary

Hope out of chaos 1Led by Sir Ghillean Prance, the eminent botanist and former Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, and Andy Lester, the Conservation Director of A Rocha, the worldwide Christian environmental organisation, this weekend at Hilfield focussed both on the current crisis in conservation but also looked for signs of hope. Throughout the world we are witnessing a drastic collapse in many species of plant and animal life; there’s a long list of plants and animals which have already become extinct throughout exploitation and loss of habitat. With increasing climate chaos already underway, the inexorable spread of urban populations, and human bHope out of chaos 2eings becoming more and more ‘distanced’ from the natural world, there seems little that we can do to reverse the trend. It isn’t helped by political leadership being afraid to address the issues, nor by those Christians who believe that, because it’s God’s purpose to ‘rescue his chosen’ from this world and to take them to a ‘new heaven and a new earth’, there’s no need for concern. Br Sam, also part of team leading the weekend, emphasized the connection between the way that much the food we choose to eat is grown, processed and sold, and both environmental destruction and human poverty. We recognised the need for a radical revolution in our relationship with the world around us , a revolution that is spiritual, social and environmental, and we found in the scriptures some clear pointers to such a transformed worldview.

Hope out of Chaos 3Among the signs of hope that we shared were the growth of movements such as Transition Towns, the Incredible Edible of Todmorden, the Slow Food Movement, and the support for local Wildlife Trusts, the RSPB, as well as specifically Christian organizations such as A Rocha, working around the world, the Christian Ecology Link, and many small, but increasingly effective groups in churches, communities, and interfaith links. Being at Hilfield, we were able to see at first hand some of the work begun here seven years ago to live peacefully and sensitively in this place, following the Franciscan insights of gift, interdependence,and praise.

Praise God that some people are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with a worldview which sees the rest of creation as a giant warehouse of stuff for human enjoyment, and are reaching out for a more humble and reverent relationship with the natural environment, with each other and with the Source and Goal of all life.

Fourscore years and still going strong

Br Vincent celebrated his 80th Birthday with a party at the Friary on Sunday 19th May when thirty friends joined the Friary Community for a buffet meal.

Vincent admiring his birthday cake

Vincent admiring his birthday cake

Vincent goes back a long way with Hilfield; he first arrived here in 1954, and although he has spent  many years in other SSF friaries – in the East End of London, at Alnmouth, in Wales, Northern Ireland, and New Zealand – he keeps being drawn back to this place.

Wherever he has lived he has made habits for the brothers – his own precious, multi-patched habit being witness to his ingenuity. Since his last return to Hilfield twenty years ago he has been giving loving care to the Secret Garden which is host to a wonderful variety of magnolias, rhododendrons, and camellias (on the Wednesday following his party, he and Chantal went up to the Chelsea Flower Show). Vincent is also the guardian to the Friary’s chocolate supply – no one else can be trusted with it!  We thank God for a great brother and pray for many, many more years for him.

A gathering of friends at the friary

A gathering of friends at the friary

Enough Food for Everyone – ‘IF’ Campaign






8th June 2013 is our chance to help one in eight people in the world just before the G8 meets in Northern Ireland.


A Hilfield group will be at the Ecumenical Service in Central Hall, Westminster at 11.30am and at the rally in Hyde Park at 2pm.  We look forward to seeing you there.

The G8 can end global hunger if they:


  1. Help poor countries make sure that people have enough nourishing food and support poor families to grow their own food.


  1. Close tax havens to stop billions of pounds flowing out of poor countries that could be used to end hunger and launch a convention on tax transparency.


  1. Give people in developing countries more control over their land by protecting farmers from land grabs and using land to grow good not biofuels.


But they will only do this if we push them to act.


Further details can be obtained from many charities, e.g. Christian Aid or Br Hugh at Hilfield.


You can visit the main IF website:  http://enoughfoodif.org/

Wild Spring Harvest

Richard harvesting Richard gathering the bounty!

Richard gathering the bounty!

A dozen visitors came on Saturday, 18th May, to forage for food around the Friary fields and woods. The day was led by Richard and Freric from the Hilfield Community and what was gathered was then prepared, cooked and shared in a meal. Starter: Nettle Soup served with wild garlic and plantain breads. Main course: Rabbit and Wild Garlic Comfit, Squirrel Fricassee cooked with sorrel and ground elder, Nettle Gnocchi, Hop Top Omelette, Comfrey Fritters; Hawthorne and Beetroot Salad, Mixed Salads; followed by Sorrel Sorbet drizzled with beach leaf liquor and washed down with nettle beer and cordial, dandelion beer and herb teas. It’s amazing what a feast is out there if you know where to look and are brave enough to feed on it!


Hilfield Friary – Working for Warmth


The Recreation Room, used for large group meetings at the Friary, has always been a cold place, even with the central heating on twenty four hours beforehand – very costly on fuel too.

Over the past month Hilfield Community members Jonathan, Primoz and Nigel, together with the help of local friends, Alex and Richard, have been working on insulating the floor, walls and roof; a large wood-burning stove has also been installed. It’s still a work in progress but already we can feel the difference.

We were far enough ahead for it to have been used for a Diocesan Ministry Development Day on 23rd May, and we’ll be meeting there as the SSF Annual Brothers’ Chapter in the first week of June. It’s a great effort – congratulations to the workers!

scaffolding more sawing  sawing  ceilingeven more sawing


On 15th May 2013 Brs Peter, Vaughan, Benedict, and Hugh with TSSF members Caroline Ugbo, Richard Martin, Ann Hussey and Denise Yeldham attended the ‘Enough Food for Everyone If’ lobby of Parliament, organised by Cafod and Church Action on Poverty. We met at Central Hall for an opening liturgy, with several hundred members of religious orders. Timothy Radcliffe OP spoke on how Moses lobbied Pharaoh, and how important it is to lobby the authorities on behalf of the poor today as well. 8 years ago Make Poverty History called for aid to be raised to 0.7% of GNI, and it finally has been, under this present government. The call today for world hunger to end also has a realistic chance of fruition. In the 1950s 1 in 3 was hungry, now it is only 1 in 8.

Then we learnt to ask our MPs …

Nutrition – since 2 m children die of malnutrition each year, we ask our MPs to call on the PM to prioritise nutrition at the  G8 hunger summit.

Tax evasion and avoidance robs poor countries of £102bn p.a.  But ending hunger would cost only £33bn p.a.   We ask our MPs to write to David Cameron urging him to ensure G8 leaders tackle tax dodging by launching a global convention on tax transparency.

Transparency – Powerful companies need to be accountable not just to investors but to broader society. We ask our MPs to write to the Secretary of State for Business Innovation and Skills to update the Companies Act requiring companies to report on their human rights issues.

Brs. Peter, Vaughan and Benedict process past Westminster Abbey to Parliament with IF placards

Brs. Peter, Vaughan and Benedict process past Westminster Abbey to Parliament with IF placards.

Hugh, Ann Hussey, Richard Martin and Caroline Ugbo waiting to pass through security into Westminster Hall

Hugh, Ann Hussey, Richard Martin and Caroline Ugbo waiting to pass through security into Westminster Hall.

The London brothers meeting Lyn Brown MP for West Ham.

The London brothers meeting Lyn Brown MP for West Ham.

A Conservative Minister in DFID and then Ed Milliband thanked us for coming, for it encouraged MPs of all parties on such an important topic, as religious are known for living in some of the poorest places on earth. Back in Central Hall, Sarah Teather, a Lib Dem MP, also thanked us for coming, showing that MPs in all parties are committed to ending hunger.

Before the concluding  prayers, CAFOD director Chris Bain, added: ‘It’s vital that the scandal of hunger is at the top of the agenda when the G8 comes to the UK next month. It has been inspiring to see so many religious people lobby their MPs. The voice of religious communities and individuals from across the UK is important in the conversation on global hunger.”

We were encouraged to return to London on 8th June for the IF rally in Hyde Park, organised by over 200  charities. On that day, the 8th, there would also be a G8 Hunger Summit in London to find a way to help the 1 in 8 who go to bed hungry each night.