Festivals/Seasons & Holy Days

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Vocations Event in Southwark!

Life as a Franciscan Sister or Brother… could this be for me? A day to explore Franciscan Community life in the Church of England

  • Franciscan sisters and brothers share their stories of God’s call and their life in community
  • DVDs on St Francis and Franciscans today to help us reflect, with opportunities for discussion
  • Time for your questions…
  • Lunch, tea & coffee provided.

DATE: Saturday 28th March 2020 10.00am – 4.00pm

Location: The Community of St Francis, St Alphege Clergy House, Pocock Street, London, SE1 0BJ

Booking Essential

To book: Contact Sue CSF (click here) or phone 0207 928 7121 with your name and contact details.

Two new Novices for SSF

Br Benedict with Br Anthony (L) and Br John Taylor (R)

On Saturday 18th January 2020 Br Benedict (the Minister Provincial) admitted Anthony Clarke and John Taylor to the Novitiate of the Society of St Francis. Br Anthony and Br John Taylor will remain in Alnmouth before moving to a new Friary in the summer months. God Willing we will be joined by two other men wanting to test their Vocation to Religious Life within the Society of St Francis in February.

Franciscan Conference in Durham

Participants from T/SSF and OSC in front of Durham Cathedral

Members of T/SSF and OSC attended a Conference in Ushaw College and Durham University organised by the Centre for Catholic Studies marking the eight hundredth anniversary of St Francis’ meeting with Sultan al-Malik al-Kamil in Damietta. One of our number (the Rev’d Thomas Sharpe n/TSSF) delivered a warmly received paper and it was wonderful to be able to hear experts in the field of Franciscan Studies speaking with passion and insight on their chosen fields. The Conference also provided an opportunity for the wider Franciscan family to meet and it was good to have the opportunity to speak with Sisters and Brothers from the Roman Catholic and Reformed Traditions.


L-R: Bishop Christine, Bishop John, Anthony and Micael Christoffer SSF

Our Postulant Anthony Clarke was Confirmed by Bishop Christine Hardman (Bishop of Newcastle) at St Mary’s Stannington on Sunday. We are very grateful to Bishop Christine and to the Rev’d Catherine Pickford (the Vicar) for welcoming Anthony, John and Br Michael Christoffer so warmly!

Life as a Franciscan Sister…could this be for me?

life as a Franciscan Sister …..could this be for me….?

a day to explore Franciscan community life in the Church of England

Sr Gina CSF addressing a Conference

Franciscan sisters share their stories of God’s call and their life in community

DVDs on St Francis and Franciscans today to help us reflect, with opportunities for discussion

time for your questions …….

Lunch, tea/coffee etc provided

Sr Liz Baptising


Date:Saturday 20thOctober 2018:  10am – 4pm

Central London venue:  The Community of St Francis, St Alphege Clergy House, Pocock Street, London SE1 0BJ

Booking essential(by 15thOctober please)

To book:   Contact suecsf@franciscans.org.uk/ 020 7928 7121  with your name and contact details.


“The world is my cloister” St Francis of Assisi


Novice Conference on Early Monasticism

Monday 25 January saw an Internovitiate study week held at The Convent Of The Incarnation in Oxford on the subject of Early Monasticism. Novices from a wide variety of Anglican Religious Communities attended. Br Thomas from Mucknell Abbey led all the sessions. Initially, we looked at desert hermits. We discussed how largely illiterate people operating at a time when Christian monasticism was amorphous, armed with as many psalms and new testament passages as they could memorise set out to seek God in the wilderness. Renouncing everything and having little sleep and little food they sought to imitate Ezekiel, John the Baptist and especially Jesus. They forced themselves to do battle with a variety of temptations describing them as demons. These were later called passions or impure thoughts that needed driving out through prayer and hurling scripture at them.

We then looked at how these hermits formed small communities of around ten growing into larger more organised cenobiums of up to five thousand. We looked at the rules of Pachomius, Cassian, Basil, Augustine, The Master and Benedict. We discussed how these rules, and the communities they governed developed over time until they had all of the basic features of modern monastic life. Focus was directed at their food and drink, novice formation, authority and rules governing excursions. John Cassians’ edict that postulants should lie outside the monastery for ten days before entering was, thankfully, omitted from later rules! Time was given for participants to get to know each other and share experiences. I was struck by how madly, deeply in love with God these early monastics were that they would go to such extreme lengths to purify their hearts and obtain the peaceful mind of the full knowledge of his love when all other distractions (demons) have been removed.  Richard Fryar


Richard is currently a Postulant resident in Alnmouth Friary.

First Profession at Alnmouth

Br Michael Jacob made his Profession in First Vows at a Eucharist held in Alnmouth Friary today. Br Benedict (the Minister Provincial) Celebrated the Eucharist and received Michael Jacob’s vows and Br John (the Guardian of Alnmouth) preached. To mark Br Michael Jacob’s Profession the Novice Rope with its one knot was replaced with the Traditional three knotted rope.

The Eucharist was attended by over seventy people many of whom had travelled a considerable distance to be with Michael Jacob. We were particularly pleased to welcome members of his family from Wales.


Br Benedict receives Br Michael Jacob’s vows


Br Michael Jacob’s Novice rope is removed.

At the reception afterwards...

At the reception afterwards…

First Professed Conference at Wantage in August.


On Monday the 24th to Friday the 28th of August five SSF brothers attended the First Professed conference at St Mary’s Convent in Wantage. During the week we had input from several different people touching on various subjects ranging from the Song of Songs, social media and end of life care.  We also joined the sisters at the Convent for their offices, and there was also plenty of time for socialising with the other First Professed brothers and sisters.

Walsingham Youth Pilgrimage

Brs Mike and Joe wrapped up agains the cold (and wet) of Norfolk!

Brs Mike and Joe wrapped up against the cold (and wet) of Norfolk!

Brs Michael Jacob and Joseph Emmanuel took part in the Walsingham Youth Pilgrimage 2015. Entitled ABBA-Father, the teaching sessions were focussed on the Lord’s Prayer and especially on the idea of God as Abba – our loving Father. Bishop Lindsay Urwin OGS (who is leaving the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham to take on a new ministry in Australia) gave Bible studies each day and preached at the final Mass at which his unique contribution to the Youth Pilgrimage over many years was acknowledged. Apart from Mass other Liturgies took place throughout the week giving pilgrims (who are aged between 12 and 16) an opportunity to make their Confessions, receive the Sacrament of Anointing, the laying on of hands and counsel. We were also encouraged to visit the Shrine Church on an all-night relay to offer prayer and see that most beautiful and holy place in stillness and silence.

Br Michael Jacob was especially busy as a ‘Street Pastor’ (giving Pastoral care to all pilgrims), as a leader for a group of Pilgrims from Wales and also taking part in a discussion about Vocation run by the the Shrine in conjunction with the Diocese of Norwich in which several young clergy on Pilgrimage took part. Br Joseph Emmanuel was part of the leadership team for a group of nearly 90 young people who came from Yorkshire, Sweden and Finland. A wonderful, humbling experience to accompany such wonderful people on their journey of  faith.


‘Being present with the delightful and the difficult!’


Anglican Novice Guardian Conference 30th June-3rd July
Title: ‘Being present with the the delightful and the difficult

This was held at St Mary’s abbey, West Malling. Br Amos and I together with 7 others took part.
Chris Cullen who is a mindfulness teacher and psychotherapist gave the input and shared with us mindfulness techniques, which were very helpful. It was a valuable and thought provoking day and we all wanted to learn more and build on what he had taught us.
The remainder of the time was spent planning the study programme for the novices 2016-2017 and other business. This annual conference gives us time to be together and opportunity to share and  learn from each other, as well as pray with the Community where we stay.
Beverley CSF

The blessing of the ‘mobile monastery’

IMG_0158The ‘mobile monastery’ was blessed by  the bishop of Leicester, the Right Revd Tim Stevens on Monday 22ndJune in Bushy Park, opposite St Matthew’s house in Leicester. Sisters joined Beverley and Chris James, from Birmingham, London and Metheringham, friends from Leicester and further afield also attended.

The rain began to pour ten minutes before the service so about 15 of us squashed into the ‘van’ while others gathered around the entrance. After the service the sun came out and we stood outside the van and had tea and chocolate cake! Children from the local primary school and their mothers came into the park and some of the children came up to the ‘van’ thinking we were selling ice cream! The balloons were given to the Mothers later for the children to take home.

The vision for this project has now come to fruition through a Trust Fund giving funding for a 3 year WP_20150622_15_15_58_Properiod.

The idea  for the project is for Anglican Religious to be more mobile and visible, to attend Summer festivals, visit schools, encourage people in their faith journey, to visit theological colleges, clergy conferences, and other events within dioceses.

As well as Franciscan sisters and brothers taking part in this project, other members of Religious Communities will be asked to help out too.

Beverley CSF


The Order of Service for the Blessing may be downloaded as a Word document here.

A short video of the Blessing may be found here.

Internoviciate Conference at Hilfield.

A conference for Novices from various Communities was held in the Friary at Hilfield recently. As well as having the opportunity of living alongside the Hilfield Community for a few days they received input from Br Sam (the Guardian of Hilfield) and learnt about the ministry which takes place there.


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.


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

First Professed Conference in Freeland.

First Professed Brothers met in Freeland from Friday 17th until Monday 21st April. It was a wonderfully relaxing time and a delight, as always, to spend time with the Second Order Sisters. Pictured are all of the First Professed Brothers (with the exception of Br Joseph Emmanuel who was taking the photograph) and Br Amos (currently the Guardian of the First Professed).



A new Novice for SSF

Peter receives a Blessing from Br Benedict

Peter receives a Blessing from Br Benedict

Peter receives the Statutes.

Peter receives the Statutes.









Our Postulant Peter Southall was clothed as a Novice today during Evening Prayer taking the name Peter Aidan. At the service, which was witnessed by a Chapel full of Peter’s friends, Peter was presented with the Statutes of the Society of St Francis, received a Blessing from the Minister Provincial (Br Benedict) and was clothed in the habit of St Francis.

Br Peter Aidan nSSF with Br Benedict SSF

Br Peter Aidan nSSF with Br Benedict SSF

Four Brothers Professed in Alnmouth!

More than seventy people joined with Brs Cristian Michael, David, Micael Cristoffer and Robert as they made their first Professions in the Society of St Francis. Br Nicholas Alan SSF (the Guardian of Glasshampton Monastery where all Novices spend a period of Enclosure) preached and Br Benedict SSF (the Minister Provincial) presided at the Eucharist and received the vows on behalf of the Society. The guests (who came from Sweden, Germany and around the United Kingdom) joined the Brothers for a delicious lunch after the Eucharist.

Br Nicholas Alan preaching.

Br Nicholas Alan preaching.

Br Benedict receives Br Cristian Michael's Promises

Br Benedict receives Br Cristian Michael’s Promises

The three knotted rope (symbolising the three vows) is knotted around Br David.

The three knotted rope (symbolising the three vows) is knotted around Br David.

The rope is tied around Br Michael Cristoffer

The rope is tied around Br Michael Cristoffer


Br Robert receives his rope

The newly Professed Brothers exchange the sign of peace with their Brothers and Sisters

The newly Professed Brothers exchange the sign of peace with their Brothers and Sisters

Br Benedict presiding

Br Benedict presiding

The newly Professed with Br Nicholas Alan

The newly Professed with Br Nicholas Alan

The newly Professed with Br Desmond Alban (the Novice Guardian)

The newly Professed with Br Desmond Alban (the Novice Guardian)

The four Novice ropes remain in the Chapel until tomorrow.

The four Novice ropes remain in the Chapel until tomorrow.

Novice Conference at Whitby.

From Monday 22nd September until Friday 26th September six SSF Brothers joined with other Novices at Whitby to study the Enneagram. Although not a definitive statement on one’s personality the Enneagram can shed some interesting insights into the way one reacts and where points of stress may occur in community life; a useful tool for the Religious Life!


The Novices.

The Novices.

First Professed Conference at Wantage.

Sisters and Brothers in First Profession met at the Convent of St Mary the Virgin in Wantage from Monday 15th September

The First Professed Brothers and Sisters.

The First Professed Brothers and Sisters.

until Friday 19th September. Over the three days we discussed using art as a form of prayer; Meister Eckhart and the Camino de Santiago. In addition there was plenty of time for reflection and we received a warm and generous welcome from the Sisters of the Community.


A fond farewell in Newcastle.

A service of thanksgiving was held in St Anthony’s Church for the ministries of Brs David, Micael Cristoffer and Malcolm as they move on to new assignments. The three Brothers each chose a piece of Scripture or prose to reflect upon and then a favourite hymn. Canon Stephen Herbert (co-ordinator of MINE) officiated at the service along with Br Damian SSF. Afterwards the congregation – who consisted of parishioners and clergy of the MINE Parishes, members of the Third Order of the Society of St Francis and Brothers of the First Order – were treated to a lovely tea.


Brs Micael Cristoffer, Malcolm and David at the end of the service

Brs Micael Cristoffer, Malcolm and David at the end of the service

St Anthony’s Friary: a year on.

Recognising the need for a clear opportunity to share in the life of a northern city and to provide a place for the training of novices in urban Franciscan ministry,  the Chapter sought a place in the Newcastle upon Tyne area to open a house for up to four Brothers. This location would also put the Brothers in reach of the established Friary at Alnmouth thus making a practical link between the two Community houses. The Bishop of Newcastle kindly invited the Brothers to establish a presence on the East side of the city, centred on the vacant Vicarage in the parish of St Anthony of Egypt, Byker. He blessed the Friary and the four resident Brothers on 15th September, 2013.

The new Friary has given its first year to get to know the area and to discover ministries both set within the house itself and in the Byker/Walker area. We were particularly welcomed by the local group of parish clergy who are formed into a unique shared ministry under the title Mission Initiative Newcastle East (MINE). The two brothers who are priests, Malcolm and Damian, have been able to serve in the five MINE parishes, at St Anthony’s more specifically. The two novice brothers who have been in training, David and Micael Christoffer, have been in placements attached to two of these parishes. Links were established also with the Cedarwood Trust, a highly active organisation which offers pastoral care on the Meadow Well estate in North Shields.

The Friary has been welcomed by many of the local churches as a house of prayer in what is a seriously deprived area with high rates of unemployment and some deep social problems. Clearly there are opportunities with the local CofE Primary School, with the elderly, and in carrying forward the life of the parish in which we are situated. While accommodation is limited, we are laying some emphasis on hospitality and we have agreed to give priority to welcoming from time to time a homeless person directed from the local de Paul Night-stop programme.

September marks the month in which charges of personnel in the noviciate will occur. We are also losing Malcolm who has been asked to form another modest presence, with Christopher Martin, at Westcott House in Cambridge. Malcolm has been appointed Chaplain commencing this Autumn Term.We ask for prayers as this represents a new start for all mentioned above, including those serving in St Anthony’s Friary from mid-September: Damian, Robert, Michael Jacob and James Douglas.

Bishop Martin of Newcastle, Brothers and Guests at the Blessing of St Anthony's Friary

Bishop Martin of Newcastle, Brothers and Guests at the Blessing of St Anthony’s Friary

An aerial view of St Anthony's.

An aerial view of St Anthony’s.

Novices at the Annual Brothers’ Chapter

This year the Annual Brothers’ Chapter (the ABC) met in Hilfield Friary from Monday 2nd June until Friday 6th. Novices from all three years of Formation were present. Here they are with Br Desmond Alban SSF (the Novice Guardian)


SSF Novices 2014

SSF Novices 2014

Novice Conference at Malling Abbey

Br David writes:

Six novices from the First Order, a novice and postulant from the Second Order and many other novices and postulants from  Anglican 
Religious Communities throughout the UK met from the 12th of May to the 16th of May at Malling Abbey in West Malling for the Anglican 
inter-noviciate study course. The theme for the study was Prayer.

During the days we took part in the sisters’ liturgical life joining them in their  beautiful Chapel several times each day. We also had some very 
good discussions (informal and formal), and some input from Sr Mary John OSB, Canon Christopher Irvine and Fr George Guiver CR on the subject of 
Prayer focusing especially on the Psalms. We spent one of the days at Canterbury where we went to the magnificent Cathedral and were 
joined by Canon Clare Edwards who welcomed us and showed us around.We also made a visit to Br Austin SSF at Eastbridge Hospital and joined 
him for Evening Prayer. Overall it was a great couple of days with interesting discussions and input and good fellowship.


The Novices of various Anglican Religious Communities with members of the Malling Community and Fr George Guiver CR

The Novices of various Anglican Religious Communities with members of the Malling Community and Fr George Guiver CR


Arkley Formation Conference

The Annual Franciscan Formation Conference took place in Arkley from Wednesday 26th March until Wednesday 2nd April. The theme for this years Conference was the 2nd Vatican Council and, in particular, the effect it had on Religious Life. Br Joseph Emmanuel (who took the picture) and Sr Beverley were asked to speak about the effect of the Council on the Church of England and on Religious Life respectively. The Arkley Conference is not only about hard study; it is also about meeting fellow Franciscan Brothers and Sisters, talking with them and laughing with them. As ever special thanks are due to our Poor Clare Sisters of the Arkley Community (not forgetting Sr Martha of course!) and to ‘the committee’ whose culinary skills make the week even more enjoyable.



First Professed Conference at Freeland.

The First Professed Brothers of the European Province (Brs Christopher Martin, Joseph Emmanuel, Martin John and Vaughan) met with Br Amos SSF (Guardian of the First Professed) at the Convent in Freeland from Friday 21st March until Monday 24th March. We spent time praying together, sharing our stories and reflecting on our life as Brothers. We also went to Oxford for the afternoon and some of us enjoyed the Ashmolean Museum before Evensong at Christ Church. We were particularly pleased to meet Christine – a friend of Br Vaughan’s.


IMG_1665 IMG_1663

Franciscan Responses to Poverty – 13th – 17th January 2014

On Monday January 13th Sisters and Brother began to arrive in Alnmouth for the ‘Franciscan Responses to Poverty’ Conference (organised as part of the ‘ongoing formation’ initiative). On Tuesday we were joined by Steve Forster and Liz Chadwick of ‘Together Newcastle’ who described some of the ways the current situation affects our near neighbours. As part of the day we were challenged to budget effectively for a family of four on a reduced income; a very difficult if not impossible task. On Wednesday Dr John Hughes (Chaplain of Jesus College Cambridge) gave a wonderful presentation on the response of Church leaders (and in particular Popes Francis and Benedict and Archbishops Justin and Rowan) to the global economic crisis. During the presentation he suggested that there is a great need for those responsible for economic praxis to give due regard to the effect it has on the poorest members of our society. Economics needs to be ‘grounded’ in the reality of life. On Thursday Averil Swanton TSSF joined us to talk about the work of Franciscans International who are already challenging poverty and injustice throughout the world.

One group attempting to budget for a family of four on a reduced income (with Liz)

One group attempting to budget for a family of four on a reduced income (with Liz)



A group attempting to budget for a family of four on a reduced income (with Steve)

A group attempting to budget for a family of four on a reduced income (with Steve)



Br John introduces John Hughes

Br John introduces John Hughes



Br Hugh and Averil Swanton τSSF

Br Hugh and Averil Swanton τSSF



Novice Pilgrimage to Assisi

Seven Novices from the Society of St Francis led by Br Desmond Alban SSF, Sr Beverley CSF and Sr Damien OSC left for Assisi on Thursday 10th October. During the Pilgrimage they visited many important Franciscan sites both in Assisi and elsewhere. Of particular note was an opportunity to spend some time with OFM Novices in La Verna (the place where St Francis received the Stigmata). In addition to a great deal of travelling there were also many opportunities to pray and to ‘be’ with Ss. Francis and Clare. Hospitality was generously provided by Br Bruce Paul SSF (of the Province of the Divine Compassion and acting Anglican Chaplain in Assisi) who also helped with the logistics of the Pilgrimage.


Outside San Rufino

Outside San Rufino

The Pilgrims in St Leonard's Church after the Morning Eucharist (with Br Bruce Paul SSF)

The Pilgrims in St Leonard’s Church after the Morning Eucharist (with Br Bruce Paul SSF)

Statue of St Francis outside San Damiano

Statue of St Francis outside San Damiano


SSF and OFM Novices at La Verna.

St Anthony’s Friary Blessed by Bishop Martin

On the 15th of September the Franciscans Friars at St. Anthony’s Friary, Walker, had the privilege to invite Bishop Martin and local friends for a house blessing of their new friary. On an otherwise cloudy Sunday brother Sun made an appreciated appearance just in time for the house blessing. After Bishop Martin blessed the Friary the brothers enjoyed a cup of tea and a Swedish cake in good company with their guests.


Blessing of house 1

Blessing of house 2

Arkley Interdenominational Novice Conference

On the 5th of March seven Novices (accompanied by Br Desmond Alban SSF and Sr Beverley CSF) travelled to the Poor Clare Convent in Arkley for ten days of formation. Input was provided by Sr Francisca OSC and Br Desmond Alban SSF and was based around the theme ‘Franciscans making a difference.’ We looked at the impact of Francis and Clare on the life of the Church; on her prayer and on her pastoral practice. In addition we were encouraged to think about the centrality of the Eucharist in the Franciscan Tradition. Teaching sessions were punctuated by meals (provided by the wonderful Arkley ‘committee’) and Offices. Arkley is a highlight of the Novice year and we were not disappointed!


2013-03-13 17.48.37

The San Damiano Cross and 'river of light.'

The San Damiano Cross and ‘river of light.’

St Bonaventure display

St Bonaventure display

Sr Beverley presiding at the Eucharist

Sr Beverley presiding at the Eucharist

Br Michael Jacob

Br Michael Jacob

Brs Cristian Michael and Christopher Martin

Brs Cristian Michael and Christopher Martin