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Community Routes

Church of the Poor?

On 19thNovember, 2016, Church Action on Poverty (CAP) gathered its supporters for its annual conference at the Unitarian Cross Street Chapel in Manchester. Among them, were two First Order Brothers and two Tertiaries. As a matter of fact, Helen Hood TSSF is serving as one of the trustees of CAP. It was also a nice surprise to bump into Brother Fabian CR. As it turns out, we are not the only Anglican religious community supporting CAP.

CAP felt inspired by Pope Francis, who recently said: ‘How I wish, that there was a church of the poor.’ The day started by listening to poetry that was created in a local Creative Writing Project, where poor people could articulate the joys and frustrations of their lives. Then various different groups and people were given a chance to present themselves: ranging from a church that opened its door to the homeless, a Baptist Minister who founded an alternative church in a poor area, to an evangelical Pastor who presented his research on the ‘Myth of the undeserving poor’. At that point, we broke into round table groups discussing how we could transform our churches into places of and for the poor.

Lunch was a good opportunity to meet and catch up with people. In the afternoon, a panel discussion deepened our conversation, followed by more round table discussions and a final plenary. At that point, it was time for the AGM and about half of the audience discreetly sneaked away. It felt like an enriching day, at which the Franciscan presence was well appreciated. We are looking forward to a growing partnership between SSF and CAP.

Hope, not fear

Brothers and sisters throughout the Province have prayed, stood, walked, or sat, in various demonstrations in solidarity with others against discrimination or in the cause of peace.

Stand up to Racism

At a time when there is a deeply worrying increase in the number of racist incidents being reported in the UK 1,500 people gathered together in London on 8thOctober, 2016, to attend the annual ‘Stand up to Racism’ conference. The great number of people, as well as the obvious diversity within the audience was an encouraging sight. There were refugees and other immigrants, activists and campaigners, Trades Unionists, teachers, politicians and other people who are simply concerned. As part of this great assembly there were three Franciscans representing the Society of St Francis and specifically the First Order Brothers’ Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Working Group. It was a day full of input and networking opportunities. The most useful meeting organised support for the refugees in Calais. We were reminded by speaker after speaker how harmful racism is to its victims, and, sadly, how widespread it is in this country.

21stJanuary London march

In the same vein, Christine James and Beverley went to London on 21st January, 2017, the first day of Donald Trump’s presidency, as women-led marches were held in  cities all over the world ‘for the protection of our fundamental rights and for the safeguarding of freedoms threatened by recent political events. We unite and stand together for the dignity and equality of all peoples, for the safety and health of our planet and for the strength of our vibrant and diverse communities.’

Celebrating diversity through immigration

On Holocaust Memorial Day 2017, (27thJanuary), President Donald Trump signed an executive order prohibiting people from seven predominantly Muslim countries (Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen) from entering the USA, an act that provoked condemnation on a worldwide scale. On the 30thJanuary, 2017, there were protests all over the UK, calling on Prime Minister Theresa May – who appeared ambivalent when interviewed on the policy – to condemn the ban. The Brothers in Newcastle decided to register their opposition to the ban and all it stands for and joined in one such protest. It was wonderfully inspiring to be part of a huge assembly, which had gathered at 24 hours’ notice around the Earl Grey Monument in the City Centre. The organisers used the occasion to send a clear message against hatred. Many signs stated ‘Refugees are welcome here’. It gave us a great sense of hope that civil society is still so alive and well in the UK: and willing to stand up!


On 20thFebruary, 2017, the UN World day of Social Justice, people from all over the UK celebrated the continuing contribution of migrants to this country. The Brothers in Canterbury joined others in marking this by attending a march and holding it in prayer at the Eucharist (the march passed by the chapel as some of the Brothers were celebrating the Eucharist). On the same day in Westminster, Parliament held a debate about the proposed visit of Donald Trump to the United Kingdom. This, coupled with the ongoing Brexit debate, was also noted by those participating in the march. Speaker after speaker proposed that we focus on hope and not fear. The march was attended by several hundred people representing the Church, universities and others.


Frances and Jemma joined a demonstration against THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defence), an anti-missile system due to be installed somewhere near Gumi, the city less than a couple of miles from where the sisters live. It is to protect the South from North Korean missile strikes, but many Koreans oppose it as an unnecessary militarization of the Korean peninsula, as well as making the area more of a target for the North.


Members of the community at St Alphege’s House in Southwark were again involved with the ‘Robes Project’. This aims to provide overnight accomm-odation with an evening meal and breakfast, in church halls in the Rotherhithe, Bermondsey and Southwark areas (and you thought it was something to do with clothes!) over the winter months and until mid-April. Sue helped most Sunday evenings, Gina did the breakfast shift on Mondays and Matthew periodically cooked the evening meal, catering for about 20 people.

Triangles and Numbers

Maureen writes: We were a select group of brothers and sisters who gathered with the brothers at Alnmouth friary for three days of learning more about the enneagram, and applying it to living in community, in the second week of January. Josephine Seccombe was our tutor and we benefitted from the many years in which she has been immersed in the enneagram as a way of under-standing one’s personality: our ‘default’ methods of doing things, the things that ‘drive’ us, our desires, and our gifts.

Although the origins of the enneagram are lost in the mists of time, it has long been connected with the journey of faith, and addit-ional prayer reflections made this link clearer regarding our Christian faith. It was also good to join with the daily prayer of the friary, and to help with clearing up after meals. A friend of the brothers kindly came and cooked for us, freeing up the resident brothers to attend the sessions.

Round up

James Douglas has moved to Canterbury, and Finnian to Glasshampton.

At the Candlemas Chapter, James Douglas was elected to Profession; Christopher Martin and Joseph Emmanuel were elected to Life Profession. At the time of printing, the date for Christopher Martin’s service had been fixed for 22ndApril, in Cambridge, and James Douglas’s service for 8th July at Hilfield.

Donald celebrated the 60thanniversary of his profession in vows, at  the care home where he is now resident, on 18thMarch.

In separate elections, Sue and Benedicthave been re-elected as Minister Provincial CSF and Minister Provincial SSF, respectively, in the European Province.

In the Third Order in the European Province, Jamie Hacker Hughes has been elected to be the next Minister Provincial. He will take up office on 17thJune, 2017. f