Festivals/Seasons & Holy Days

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page 10 at TaizeCommunity Routes

2015 summer conferences

Taize revisited

The Taizé community hosted a Reflection Week on the relevance of a religious vocation. David writes:

In the beginning of July, I had the privilege of representing SSF at the Ecumenical Community in Taizé, France. As this is the Year of Consecrated Life in the Roman Catholic Church, the brothers at Taizé had organised a week long conference on the relevance of a Religious vocation. Taizé is an ecumenical community where the brothers come from different church traditions: Catholic, Protestant and Anglican. There were about 350 Religious from all parts of the world attending the conference. Each day we joined with the brothers and the other visitors (about 2000 of them!) for prayers three times and we also listened to several talks each day as well as having time to gather in small groups to talk about our experiences of living out a Religious vocation in very different circumstances. The talks were given by several interesting speakers: a Coptic Orthodox bishop from Egypt, a former General Prior of the Carthusians, the Superior General of the Jesuits, several Orthodox monks and nuns, the Master of the Dominican Order, the Minister General of OFM, Sister Annaliese from the Community of the Sisters of the Church and many others.


The International Interconfessional Congress of Religious, commonly abbreviated to CIR, took place from August 20 to 25. Gina writes:

page 10 CIR York for mag

CIR was founded in 1976 and is a biennial congress of some fifty Religious from Europe and beyond, representing a range of denominational affiliations. It always takes place in a religious house where we share in the worship of the host community. This year the Brethren of the Community of the Resurrection at Mirfield were our hosts and Martin John and I attended.

Our theme was ‘Receptive Ecumenism: sharing our gifts.’ Papers were presented in English, French and German and translations available for those of us not fluent in all three languages. I was, however, pleasantly surprised how much French and German dormant since my school days woke up and came to my aid! Some of the talks were experiential: for example two Sisters, one Roman Catholic and one Lutheran who bore the same name and were born in Franconia in the same year, shared how the other’s traditions had enriched their spiritual growth since childhood. A moving and powerful presentation came from two other Sisters, one an Anglican who had only learned at the age of thirty that twenty-two of her forebears had perished in Auschwitz and a Lutheran Sister who all her life had carried a burden of guilt and shame that her grandfather had been a commandant in the camp. The last Congress had been held in Poland and had included a visit to Auschwitz. The two Sisters had gone hand in hand and they shared the effects of that brave undertaking both at the time and over the intervening two years. Other talks were more learned, focussing on such themes as the cross-fertilisation of the spiritual classics across different traditions, and the place of the numerous church documents on ecumenism produced over the last forty to fifty years.

Discussions on the talks were con-ducted in language groups with two of the Romanian Orthodox Religious who understood English translating for the three who could speak none of the three main languages.

On the last day Fr Brian Terry, an Atonement Friar from America, helped us to reflect on the future of CIR. By the end of the day we had an encouraging unanimity concerning its future direction. It was agreed that the present pattern is basically sound: that it should continue to take place in a Religious House and the topic should be one that is of relevance and concern to us as Religious. We wanted to share in the liturgy of our host Community, but perhaps only once a day, to give more opportunity to experience and explore other ways of worship. We were open to the possibility of a guest speaker who is not a Religious. Fr. Nicolas Stebbing CR was asked to continue as the chair of the planning group.

We had an outing to York, visiting the Bar Convent and York Minster and a celebratory meal and party at the end of the congress.

I am very grateful to have attended this gathering and hope it may long continue to be the blessing for others as it was for me.

Anglican First Professed

page 11 First profFrom 24 to 28 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.

Greenbelt Festival

Franciscans featured at Greenbelt in a way that has not happened for a very long time, when Samuel, page 11 Sam at Greenbelt 1along with Lyndon from the Pilsdon community, led the reflections during the Sunday morning Eucharist. He shared the stage with Bishops Libby Lane and Pushpa Lalitha, both the first women to be consecrated bishops in their home countries (England and India). Samuel was supported by others in the Franciscan team who led the prayers, and some of the music was written and sung by Tom, a former volunteer at Hilfield.

The Festival theme was ‘The Bright Field’, from RS Thomas’s poem, and until just after the Eucharist on Sunday, the weather upheld the theme. But the organisers were better prepared for August weather, and a very large marquee allowed the music to go on with consistently large audiences. We also maintained our tradition of prayer and hospitality at our tent site, and on two evenings had over 20 visitors joining us for prayer.

Will we win an Oscar?

page 11 Francis film death scene

‘Finding Saint Francis’ is a 75-minute feature film made by the actor and director Paul Alexander, a Third Order Franciscan and author of The Wild Goose Chase. First conceived in 2012, it was filmed at Hilfield Friary during the summer of 2014 and premiered at the British Film Institute in London on 5th November 2015. A city finance worker, Peter Stone, is suffering ‘burn-out’ and comes to Hilfield for relaxation and recuperation. Arriving there he discovers that a film is being made on the life of Francis, but the lead actor has had to withdraw. Peter is drawn into the part when the director meets him and realises he is perfect casting as the young Francis.

The story of Francis’ life merges with the current life of the Hilfield Community, and the professional cast share the acting with First Order Brothers and resident members of the Community. The film combines a narrative performance by Paul in front of an audience in the open air in the peaceful setting of the Hilfield graveyard, along with highlights of Francis’ life filmed in a variety of settings around the Friary. They include Francis celebrating with his young friends, encountering Lady Poverty, rebuilding San Damiano, kissing a leper, meeting with the young Clare, setting up the crib at Greccio, meeting the Sultan, having his eyes cauterised by a doctor, receiving the stigmata and finally dying in the open air. Specially composed music enhances the film but can also be used in its own right, perhaps for meditation. The objectives of the film are to be historically accurate within a modern setting, to tell a rattling good story and to contribute to the global Franciscan mission.

The DVD contains a separate booklet, Stories and Reflections. Illustrated with shots from the film, this highlights its themes and aids reflection through relevant stories and quotations, using the headings Searching, Finding, Living and Ending. It provides material for both individual contemplation and group discussion. Also included on the DVD is a 17-minute video shot on location by the documentary film maker Adam Woods. We hear the personal views of actors and other commentators, along with Paul’s own hopes and aspirations for the film. Like the film itself, this should be of interest to Franciscans and many others, as it gives an insight into the life of the Hilfield Community. It even catches Br Samuel tending the garden as he describes the way of life of the Friary.

The film is available on DVD, and by downloading and streaming, via the film website:


Round up

Michael Jacob has been elected to First Vows and will make his profession on 12 December, 2015. Eric Michael arrived in the UK in September and is at St Anthony’s Friary, Byker, Newcastle.

Beverley has stepped down from being Novice Guardian for CSF and Maureen has been appointed in her place; Liz has been appointed as Provincial Secretary.

Johannes Maertens has decided not to continue exploring a vocation with SSF, and Peter Aidan has withdrawn from the novitiate.

In Korea, Frances has been recommended by Busan Diocese in the Anglican Church of Korea for training towards ordination to the priesthood.

In America, Derek died on 5 September, 2015, at the Friary in Los Angeles. He was 83 years old and in the 43rd year of his Religious Profession. In New Zealand, Brian died on 29 October, 2015 at Atawhai Mercy Assisi Home in Hamilton, which he had moved to ten days previously. He had celebrated the 57th anniversary of his profession the previous day, and his 90th birthday in March 2015. We will hopefully be able to include an obituary in the next edition of franciscan.

May they rest in peace and rise in glory! f