Festivals/Seasons & Holy Days

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Community Routes

Byker Nativity

page 10 James and Mike as Shepherds


Michael Jacob writes:

‘Follow that star!’ ‘What star?’ ‘THAT star!’ was the loud chorus of voices that rang out over the streets inside and on the fringes of the Byker Wall on the last Sunday before Christmas. The streets were full of shepherds, wise men, (or should that be people?) and angels (the Byker version anyway), all assembling to re-tell again the story of our faith, the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Friars could be seen wearing tea towels, which didn’t look out of place with brown habits, riding hobby horse style camels and generally being part of the fun! page 10 wise peopleDamian took a leading role as one of the Wise People, I wrote part of the script, Robert co-ordinated the refreshments and food for after and James Douglas provided support wherever it was needed. So all the brethren of the Newcastle house were involved. Our route took us all through the Byker Wall estate to St Michael’s Church, Byker, where there is a panoramic view of Newcastle, stopping on the way to hear from the Wise People and the angels, and singing carols accompanied by a wonderful local brass band, liberally interspersed with the music of pop group S Club 7 and getting to our destination, to see baby Jesus and all the characters in the specially erected manger. The church was decorated with fairy lights, a mirror ball over the font and coloured material to make it more welcoming and intimate. Various people who live and work on the estate with Youth With a Mission, YMCA, Scripture Union and those involved in the local parishes of the area, all under the skilful eyes of Chantal our curate and Dave the Scripture Union man in our area.

As usual with nativities, the best part is having the kids and grown-ups in the church, sharing in this story, singing carols, hearing that God loves them and that the life of Jesus is for them, too. We have so much to be thankful for in this beautiful place.




Ecumenical climate change at the Vatican

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Joyce writes: An unprecedented meeting took place in Rome in January. The Vatican organised an Ecumenical Symposium on the Consecrated Life for more than one hundred women and men religious from various church traditions: Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican and Protestant. Thanks to Pope Francis who, by instituting ‘A Year for Consecrated Life’ within the Roman Catholic Church, said ‘I warmly encourage such meetings as a means of increasing mutual understanding, respect and reciprocal cooperation, so that the ecumenism of the consecrated life can prove helpful for the greater journey towards the unity of all the Churches’. The aim was to get acquainted, to pray together and share experiences. Of the seven Anglicans present, SSF was represented by Clark Berge, Desmond Alban and Joyce.

The meeting took place at the Patristic Institute, Augustinianum, close by St Peter’s Square. Each of the three days was devoted to one of the three traditions: with morning prayer, a word from the Cardinals who are the heads of the three organising Vatican departments, a presentation on the consecrated life in that tradition, the testimonies of brothers and sisters, small group discussions, and ended with evening prayer in local churches of the three traditions. Clark Berge gave the presentation on the Anglican Tradition.

During the Anglican/Protestant day there was an audience with Pope Francis for the group in the Consistory Hall of the Vatican. In the Pope’s address he shared some thoughts on the importance of the consecrated life to Christian unity. There was a reminder that unity is a gift of the Holy Spirit and he went on to say that there is no unity without conversion, without prayer and without holiness of life.

At the conclusion of the meeting participants expressed the hope that future meetings might be held to build on the rich experience of this one; and all were encouraged to return to their communities and share this experience in living the common call to prayer, holiness and conversion with their brothers and sisters.

A visit to Cameroon and Tanzania

page 11 John translating

John and Clark Berge write:

In October, John accompanied Clark Berge to Cameroon and Tanzania to visit three small groups of men interested in Anglican religious life. The purpose of our visit was to offer encouragement and friendship and share our experience of vowed religious life as they were making initial steps. We both came away feeling greatly inspired.

In Yaoundé, Cameroon, we discovered the Community of the Companions of St. Benedict to be a vibrant group of seven men (with several aspirants visiting often), headed by Brother Emmanuel Oba’a. They are living and praying together, supporting themselves in a very simple lifestyle through gardening, different odd jobs in the community, and through the generosity of friends. The community is French speaking, which was one of the main reasons John travelled with Clark, as John is fluent in French.

Two is welcome company when going about in foreign places. We encouraged each other all the time; it was incredibly helpful to talk over each day’s experiences together, laughing at the often-improbable circumstances. Travelling by coach we crossed the country to Bamenda, where we met with Br. Martin Lukong, who is working to establish a small community. His efforts have been to create a foundation that could support a community. So, while the community is informal, he was able to show off the lands and pastures he hopes will support cattle and other agricultural projects to fund a community.

We made an impromptu visit to the Sisters of Bethany, also in Bamenda. Founded by Sr. Jane Mankaa, there are now four sisters living and praying together. They run an orphanage for 150 children, several of whom they have supported up through University. We found the beautiful facility and warm home-like atmosphere extremely powerful to see. Celebrating the Sunday Eucharist with the children singing and playing the drums was unforgettable.

After perhaps the most excruciating bus ride in our lives, on over-packed seats with no room to move for eight hours, we caught a plane and travelled to Dar es Salaam.

In Tanzania we met with Clodwig Komba, who has since our visit been consecrated as Bishop of Ruvuma. Bishop Clodwig and Br. Otto (former SSF novice from the early 80s) are working to found The Little Brothers and Daughters of St. Francis, a community for men and women. At present this is at a very early stage with young people showing an interest, but no firm foundation yet laid.

Round up

Peter Southall was admitted as a novice at Alnmouth Friary on 7th February taking the name Peter Aidan. Peter comes from a background in engineering and is 41 years old.

The anticipated professions of Cristian Michael, David, Micael Christoffer and Robert took place at Alnmouth friary on 13th December, 2014.

Desmond Alban has been asked to live and work in the Province of the Americas for a couple of years and expects to move to San Francisco sometime in the summer. Amos is expected to take over as the SSF Novice Guardian at Pentecost. f