Last week Brs Cristian Michael, Joseph Emmanuel and Micael Christoffer set off for Pitlochry to join the clergy of the Diocese of Edinburgh for the annual clergy conference. The Brothers participated in discussion groups, heard presentations by Steve Aisthorpe (author of Rewilding the Church) and Fr Gero McLaughlin SJ and enjoyed the beautiful countryside during breaks in the conference schedule.
The Bishop of Edinburgh (the Rt Rev’d Dr John Armes) came to bless St David’s Friary in Edinburgh. Members of the congregation, the Third Order and other guests prayed God’s Blessing on the new Friary before enjoying some refreshments together. People are always welcome to join the Brothers for the Office and Eucharist in St David’s Church which are offered at the following times:
Please do email the Brothers by clicking here if you intend to come because times of service may need to change depending on our outside commitments.
On Wednesday 4th October a large congregation gathered together in St David’s Scottish Episcopal Church in Pilton to mark the re-establishment of a Franciscan house in the area (and in Scotland). Br Joseph Emmanuel was licensed by Bishop John Armes (Bishop of Edinburgh) as Priest-in-Charge and the Brothers of St David’s Friary (Cristian Michael, Micael Christoffer and Joseph Emmanuel) were blessed. The Friary itself will be blessed on Sunday 15th October. The Brothers say the Divine Office in Church four times each day and the Eucharist is also celebrated each day. They are busy exploring the many opportunities for service and mission in the area and in the City of Edinburgh.
We had a time of open sharing, we reviewed a book together, and we had input from Benedict on the history of religious life in the Anglican tradition with reference to the vows. We also had a day out to Dunstanburgh castle, where this picture was taken. On the last evening we had a ‘soiree’ with the brothers and guests, and much fun was had by all.
The First Professed Conference was a wonderful way to get to know members of other Anglican communities who are at a similar stage in their vocational journey.
Sr Elizabeth died peacefully on Saturday 9th September. She joined the Community of St Francis in 1955 and was Professed in 1957 in Dalston, London. Elizabeth led the Community through a time of change and expansion, as Minister Provincial and ‘Mother’ from 1971 until 1986. Latterly she lived again in the East End at Stepney and then in Plaistow. She was 92 years old and in the 65th year of profession in vows. May she Rest in Peace and Rise in Glory!
Elizabeth’s funeral will take place on Monday 16th October at 12.30pm in St Paul’s Church, Bow Common (Burnett Road, London, E3 4AR; nearest tube station Mile End). It will be followed by refreshments in the church hall and the committal will be at 3.00pm in the East London Crematorium. Please note that there is no car parking available at the Church.
If you would like to make a donation to the Community in memory of Sister Elizabeth, you can do so online at: https://www.franciscans.org.uk/donating-to-us/. Please select the ‘pay with card option’ and put “CSF in memory of Sr Elizabeth” as the destination. This may be gift-aided. Cheques are to be made payable to The Community of St Francis and sent either to a Sister with whom you are in contact, or to The Sisters CSF, St Matthew’s House, 2 Yukon Way, Leicester, LE1 2AF
On 26 August 2023, Br John SSF was blessed in his new role as Guardian of Hilfield Friary by the European Minster Provincial, Br Micael Christoffer SSF.
The simple liturgy taken from the Daily Office SSF was incorporated into the midday Eucharist. During the service, heartfelt thanks were given to God and Br Clark Berge for his ministry as Guardian over the past six years. He was commended to God in prayer for the next stage of his journey as he prepares to move to the USA. The Hilfield community and local friends witnessed the day, as John knelt for the blessing.
Br John commented: “I am happy to be back living at Hilfield after a gap of fifteen years, listening to the owls hooting at night and praying for wisdom. My deep gratitude goes to all of the community members for the warmth of the welcome I have received, and the kindness and patience shown to me. Together, we look forward to what God has in store for us in the future.”
A few days later, on the 30 August, Br John was licensed by the Bishop of Salisbury who joined the Hilfield Community to share in their hospitality.
Br Clark the outgoing Guardian, said: “I’ve had a wonderful six years as Guardian. It has been a full and rich time. I learned much and I hope I have given love and encouragement to the community. Where I have failed, I ask pardon. John and the community are much in my thoughts and prayers!”
In the next couple of weeks, Clark will be walking the Camino de Santiago, after which he will be returning to the USA. The Community and Brothers and Sisters of the First Order wish him well and thank him for his service.
Br Micael Christoffer who led the blessing, added: “I am pleased on behalf of SSF, to bless John in his new ministry.”
For the first time Alnmouth friary hosted part of the Alnmouth Arts Weekend (June 16-18). The arts festival started in 2005 and has grown to hosting 50 artists in different locations around Alnmouth village. This year Alnmouth friary hosted 17 artists, who sold their wares.
The brothers along with a small team of volunteers served tea, coffee and cake alongside running a book and plant stall. We offered hospitality and a listening ear as well. Over 1,000 passed through the friary over the weekend.
A lot of local people had never been into the friary before so it was a great way to get to know the local community. People marvelled at Alnmouth friary gardens and the view from the library window. Guests kept on saying how peaceful the friary was and how they’d like to come back. Out of the weekend we’ve already seen fruit, some people have made retreat inquiries, and others have popped around for a chat.
The C-SSF On-going Formation Conference was held at Alnmouth Friary, 13-16 February. With the assistance of Billy Crozier, the group considered the writings of John Duns Scotus, a 14th century Franciscan theologian and philosopher, especially Scotus’s teaching on the reason for the incarnation of Christ, and the Immaculate conception of Mary.
Then the group made a ‘pilgrimage’ to Duns, the place of John’s birth (the name we know him as now is derived from how he would have been called: ‘John of Duns, the Scot’). The Rector of the Episcopal Church in Duns made us very welcome, and presided at a Eucharist, and after our picnic lunch (indoors) Kenny, a local historian, spoke about Duns through the ages, and educated the group a little on Scottish history, generally, in the process.
The group standing round the cairn in the top photo are: Maureen, Gina, Benedict, Micael Christoffer, Beverley, Judi, Finnian and Sue.
Afterwards, a short walk took the group to the cairn which marks the likely birth place of John Duns, and then down through the square to a park where there is a statue of him. We felt that the pose of the statue make the theologian look rather too superior, and Sr Beverley and Br Micael Christoffer mimicked it, in a fun way.
14th January: Sister Joyce CSF celebrated the Golden Jubilee of her profession as a Franciscan Sister, at Southwark Cathedral. A service of thanksgiving with a Eucharist was held before a large number of guests, which was lead by the Very Revd Andrew Nunn, Dean of Southwark.
The Dean concelebrated at the Eucharist with Sr Beverly CSF, Minister Provincial for the Sisters and Br Sam SSF, who also gave the homily. Afterwards, all who attended enjoyed a celebratory lunch nearby given by the cathedral Wardens.
In the homily Br Sam reflected on what saying yes to God has meant for Joyce over the last 50 years as a Sister, and how it has been important to fall in love with God. He also spoke of a time of dedicated service to Christ, and all the groups that Joyce had been apart of, noting her time from 1974-1978 in San Francisco, her time at various houses across the UK, and her involvement with many community groups around London and the South.
We live in challenging times where it is cold and dark for many people in the world. We hear about war, murder, despair, and other forms of evil not far from us. In the midst of all this, we celebrate that God chose to come into the world to spread light.
Jesus challenges us that it is through his weakness rather than through power and strength that he will reign supreme. He makes himself dependent on his parents and shows us that we need to be reliant on each other in order to survive.
For most people at Christmas, we are reminded of the loved ones around us. However, we must also remember to care for those left out in the cold and dark because they do not have warmth and light to share with others.
Therefore, let us spread the good news of the contradictory newborn King and to bring His light to all people in the bleak areas of this planet.
May you all have a Blessed Christmas!
Peace and all good!
Brother Micael Christoffer SSF
Image Credit: A Church Near You.