Festivals/Seasons & Holy Days

There will be an opportunity to Gift Aid your donation, and/or to direct your gift to the brothers, or sisters or a particular house, after you have completed the final page on PayPal (PayPal account not required).

Prayers for all NHS & Key Workers

The Sisters and Brothers of the Society of St Francis are very conscious of the incredibly serious situation facing the country at this time caused by the new strain of the Coronavirus. We are particularly aware of the challenges faced by our NHS and Front Line workers and of the physical, emotional and mental stress they are currently facing. One of the small things we feel we may offer at this time is the assurance of our continuing prayers: We will hold all affected by COVID19 in our hearts, in our prayers and in the Daily Office and Eucharist.

Celebrate the 800th anniversary of the founding of the Third Order by St Francis.

May the power of your love, Lord Christ, fiery and sweet as honey, so absorb our hearts as to withdraw them from all that is under heaven. Grant that we may be ready to die for love of your love, as you died for love of our love. Amen

To celebrate the 800th anniversary of the founding of the Third Order by St Francis, Heather Hall TSSF commissioned Adrian Green (a lay clerk at Portsmouth Cathedral) to set the words of the Absorbeat to music. She asked that the setting was meditative and could be sung by a competent Parish Church choir. In response to Heather’s commission Adrian chose to set the text for sixteen voices and it was recorded by a group of singers in the summer. It may be heard on Youtube by clicking on the link: https://youtu.be/e7WRIc8n7UI (Adrian Green maintains copyright of the typeset and music file)

New Solar at Hilfield Friary

Hilfield’s solar installation has now been generating for over a month, in the period when the days are shortest. The pictures show Francis House’s west roof, with Leo House’s south roof in the background, giving a spread of power throughout the day. The graph shows daily power being produced since the beginning on 8th December on these roofs. Note how the Francis House panels now replace an earlier piece of technology, the 2 brick chimneys built in 1888 and removed in c. 2011. The other picture shows panels on the much flatter chip store roof, to power the boiler house and workshops.  For further details, describing how the European Regional Development Fund helped  it possible, see the article below.

Soup and Santa!

Brs Finnian and James Douglas received a very special visitor whilst dispensing soup from Balaam Street on Friday…

Scriptural Rosary in London

Brothers Finnian and Tobias are leading a Scriptural Rosary Group in London. The meeting take place in St Vedast Alias Foster on Fridays at 11.00am (opposite St Paul’s Tube Station). It is envisaged that the group will move to the Friary Chapel in Balaam Street in the new year. The group have a Facebook page which may be accessed by clicking here The recitations are also live-streamed on the Facebook page. +

Soup @ HDC

The Brothers of the House of the Divine Compassion have begun a new ministry and are now serving homemade soup to anyone who needs it on Fridays. Because of lockdown restrictions it is much harder for people to find food easily but here they can receive a mug of homemade soup and have a chat with the Brothers and other volunteers.

Br James Douglas SSF preparing to distribute the soup with Br Finnian.

Hilfield Solar Project

Br Hugh writes:

The poster at the Friary entrance announces Hilfield Friary’s solar project,  part-funded by Low Carbon Dorset as part of the European Regional Development Fund .

In 2012 the Friary had 44 solar pv panels, (10kwp) installed on the Chapel Roof, giving about 10,000 kwhs of electricity a year, plus valuable payments from the Feed in Tariff. However, it is only a part of what we need. The arrival of electric car charging and LED lighting has increased and decreased our needs respectively.

 We had always planned to generate more, and to reduce our carbon footprint further. Equipment costs have fallen but the FIT has also gone. Now Low Carbon Dorset, run by our local authority, Dorset Council, has helped us find part funding to cover the roofs of Francis and Leo Houses and the chip store for our biomass boiler. 

We are most grateful to The Low Carbon Dorset team for their excellent advice and encouragement in finding the most appropriate technology, in the size with the shortest payback time. It helped us apply for the 40% funding from the EU’s  European Regional Development Fund.

A local firm will begin installation next week. 29 pwp of panels on more 3 roofs will generate another 30,000 kwhs pa, quadrupling the power we generate. It will give an estimated C02 saving of 21.8 tonnes pa.

LCD has also helped other Dorset churches, at least one of which is, like us, an Ecochurch award winner. See www.lowcarbondorset.org.uk/  and https://ecochurch.arocha.org.uk/  for further information.

 Solar power helps the friary economically, as we will now have to buy less electricity, albeit 100% renewable electricity from Ecotricity. As the cost of batteries fall further, in a year or two, we also hope to store daytime power to use at night. In the meantime, surplus power will go to the grid, but the Local Electricity Bill, now going through parliament, could let us sell spare power to neighbours.

The Church of England has just brought forward its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2030, and this solar project shows what we can do now. See www.churchofengland.org/news-and-media/news-and-statements/general-synod-sets-2030-net-zero-carbon-target

This project is part of our care for creation, our Common Home as Pope Francis calls it in Laudato Si. St Francis spoke of Brother Sun and Mother Earth but had no idea how harnessing the lifegiving power of Br Sun could slow the poisoning of Mother Earth with CO2, giving us hope in our climate emergency.  Guests and visiting groups will learn about the project, just as they learn about our biomass heating

Work on the Solar Panels above Leo House (27.11.20)

Message from Hilfield Friary

The Hilfield Community is all well. We thank you for your prayers over the past months as we have prayed for you.Unfortunately, with the recent announcement of lock down, we are currently unable to welcome guests, either to stay or for services in Chapel. The Community will continue to pray the Office and say Mass and will hold you all in our intercessions during this difficult time.We are really looking forward to welcoming you all back and being able to catch up with our friends, hopefully in the near future.

Scriptural Rosary Group

Brother Finnian and Brother Tobias have begun a ‘Scriptural Rosary’ group based in the City of London. Some people physically attend whereas others attend virtually because of the current COVID restrictions. If you would like to know more about the Scriptural Rosary (or are interested in attending) please email Br Finnian for more details. Finnian may be contacted by clicking here.

The Daily Office SSF

We’ve recently received some enquiries about buying a copy of The Daily Office SSF. Unfortunately we no longer have copies for sale but you may be able to find a second hand copy on the internet.

Hilfield Friary reopening to guests

Hilfield Friary have recently announced that, Government restrictions permitting, they are hoping to take a limited number of guest bookings from Thursday 1st October 2020. Please click here to read the announcement on the Hilfield Friary website. The Friaries in Alnmouth and Glasshampton remain closed to guests for the time being. When it is possible to safely open Alnmouth and Glasshampton to guests an announcement will be made on this website and on our Facebook page.

A New Bishop Protector!

We are delighted to announce that Bishop Christopher Chessun (the Bishop of Southwark) has accepted our invitation to serve as our Bishop Protector. Bishop Christopher replaces Archbishop Stephen Cottrell and will assume office on the Feast of St Francis (the 4th of October). We assure Bishop Christopher of our prayers and thank Archbishop Stephen for his ministry to us.

Foodbank in Lockdown

Michael Jacob writes;

During Lockdown Br Benedict and I have been helping at a Foodbank based in St Aidan’s church, Harehills. The numbers have increased steadily each week and a small band of volunteers have been able to supply many food parcels thanks to the generosity of a local Morrisons supermarket, individual donations, local charities (freedom_4_girls amongst others) and local faith communities including the Mosques and the Gurdwara in the area. 295 people received a parcel this last Sunday. 

New Novices for SSF

Two new men were admitted to the Novitiate at Evening Prayer in Alnmouth Friary. Jake Brennen and Danny Garrett were admitted by Br Philip Bartholomew (the Assistant Minister). Jake will be known in the Community as Br Patrick and Danny as Br Simeon. We assure them of our prayers as they continue to discern their Vocations in Alnmouth. Deo Gratias!

Br Vincent RIP

Br Vincent, who had became unwell a few weeks ago, died early this morning (around 1.30am). Vincent was born in 1933 and was made a Postulant in the Society of St Francis by Fr Algy in 1954. Following Profession in 1957 he served in different houses in the Province but was latterly based in Hilfield Friary where his beautiful ‘secret garden’ (which contained a unique rhododendron collection) became justly famous.

His Funeral Mass will be celebrated in Hilfield Friary at a later date but, because of current restrictions, it can not be open to the public. It is, however, anticipated that the service will be recorded and/or live-streamed. May he Rest in Peace!

Br Vincent SSF

Please pray for Br Vincent

Brother Vincent was taken into Dorchester Hospital this week. He suffered a seizure and a heart attack. He remains unconscious. The doctors have taken Vincent off everything except liquid. We suspect that the end is very near now. The hospital staff says he is very comfortable, but apparently it is known for people to remain in this condition or state for a considerable time. He has received the Last Rites. Pray for dear Vincent – and for the staff in Dorchester Hospital who are caring for him, and all at Hilfield Friary.

Alnmouth and the 2.6 challenge

Some photos from today (and previously):

Br Michael skipping for twenty six minutes
Walking five miles a day on the same terrace takes its toll…
26 Candles; signs of our prayers

Alnmouth Brothers run the COVID Marathon?

Alnmouth Brothers are taking part in the ‘2.6 challenge’ over the next few days. This is an initiative which seeks to offset the impact of COVID19 on the charitable sector. The Alnmouth Brothers have chosen L’Arche Edinburgh as the charity they wish to support. Various Brothers will be doing different things: Br Micael Christoffer will be skipping for twenty six minutes (in his habit); Br John will walk the equivalent of 2.6 miles in the grounds and Br Joe will ‘donate’ 2.6 miles of his 5 mile daily walk to the cause. Please click here to donate if so minded.

Covid19 update

Given the advice we have received from the Government and our Archbishops we must, with regret, confirm that we remain unable to welcome people on Retreat to our SSF houses or invite them to join us for worship in our Chapels. We will remain closed until the guidance from the Government and Archbishops suggests that we may open safely. When we are in a position to welcome guests again we will publish this information on our website. 

A service for Passion Sunday (the fifth Sunday in Lent)

As many provinces have suspended public worship, the Anglican Communion Office has put together a brief video-based Service of the Word for Passion Sunday, featuring prayers written especially for this Sunday – the Fifth Sunday in Lent – which has been designated as a worldwide day of prayer for repentance and reconciliation in the Anglican Communion.

The service is led by the Revd Neil Vigers from the Anglican Communion Office’s Department for Unity Faith and Order. Readings were recorded for us by Archbishop Philip Freier (Melbourne, Australia); Archbishop Thabo Makgoba (Cape Town, Southern Africa); Archbishop Ian Ernest (Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome); and Dean Hosam Naoum (St George’s Cathedral, Jerusalem). The homily is given by Bishop Moon Hing (West Malaysia, South East Asia).

The songs were recorded before the Covid-19 pandemic at St Mary’s Cathedral, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Washington National Cathedral, Washington DC, USA; the Anglican Church of Canada General Synod; and the 16th Meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in Lusaka, Zambia.

The Service may be accessed by clicking here.

Cancellation of Vocations event

From Sr Sue CSF:

In line with the recent government and church of England guidance regarding COVID 19 we are cancelling the Enquirers Day previously scheduled for Saturday 28th March.   In view of the current uncertainty about how long the crisis will last we are not at this stage planning another event before the autumn.  If the situation changes we will let you know of any subsequent plans.

However we already have an Enquirers Day planned for Saturday October 24th. If you wish to book a place for that event now you are welcome to do so – please let me know.

I hope you and those dear to you remain well in these very challenging times.

May the Lord give you Peace,


COVID 19 Precautions

A Cross at La Verna

From the Society of St Francis:

Given the advice we have received from the Government and the Archbishops, we must, with regret, announce today that we are unable to welcome people on retreat to our SSF houses (Alnmouth, Glasshampton and Hilfield) from now until Monday 20th April (at the earliest). This decision will obviously be reviewed as circumstances demand.

Also, in line with guidance from the National Church (click here), we will be suspending public worship in our Chapels until further notice. The Community, however, will continue to pray, so you can be sure that prayer in our houses remains at the hearts of our lives.

With a number of elderly brothers and community members who are at risk, we believe that we must enter a period of social distancing for their safety and the safety of all our guests.

If you would like to send us any intercessions for our prayers please send them to: Alnmouth, Glasshampton or Hilfield.

Peace and all good

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.

Sr Judith Ann CSF RIP

Please pray for the repose of the soul of Judith Ann CSF, who died yesterday morning, in Lincoln County Hospital, after a short acute illness. She was 80 years old and in the 30th year of her profession in vows.
May she rest in peace and rise in glory.

Please remember also her sister Eileen, and her nieces and nephews, in your prayers.

Br Anselm SSF RIP

Br Anselm with Bishop John (of Worcester) on the 60th Anniversary of his Profession

Br Anselm died on Monday 30th December 2019. As a Brother he served in many different capacities and notably as Minister Provincial and Headmaster of Hooke School. Stationed latterly in Glasshampton, Anselm had a greatly appreciated ministry of Spiritual Direction and was a faithful friend and counsellor to many who came to the Monastery. We assure his family and especially Helen and Jenny (his Sisters) of our prayers. May he Rest in Peace!

A new Archbishop of York!

The Sisters and Brothers congratulate Bishop Stephen (our Bishop Protector) on his nomination as the 98th Archbishop of York. We assure him of our love and prayers as he prepares to begin this new ministry next year. Ad Multos Annos!

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!

Franciscans return to Greenbelt

(L-R): Sr Maureen CSF, Sr Louisa Ann OHP, Br Ethan Gabriel nSSF, Sr Catherine CHN,
Br Finnian nSSF, Br Hugh nSSF, Sr Monica CHN

For many years members of Anglican Religious Orders have gone to the Greenbelt Festival (which takes place at the end of August). As well as providing hospitality and a place for prayer and conversation the Sisters and Brothers were ‘on hand’ to witness to the presence of Religious in the Anglican Communion.