London Region Elective Chapter 21/11/2015

The London Region elective chapter took place yesterday, presided over by our National Minister Paula Pearce.
The new London Region executive is: Minister: Anne North ofs, Vice Minister: Georgia Tutton ofs, Secretary: Toni McCabe ofs, Formation: Christine Cattini ofs, Treasurer: Jean Truebridge ofs, Presence in the World: Jothi Christian ofs, Youth: Joanna Torres ofs, Minister without Portfolio: Ela Sumislawska ofs.

Left to right in the main picture below are: Ela, Georgia, Jean, Jothi, Christine, Joanna, Anne and Toni.

Please include the new executive in your prayers as they begin their term of office.

We also said a big thank you to Fr Francis Conway OFM who “retired” earlier this year after a long haul as spiritual assistant to the London region.

Thank you Fr Francis, Thank you outgoing council, Thank you incoming council. Thank you, God.

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Profession at Oxford 21/11/2015

Heather's profession
Saturday 21st November 2015
Heather Van Cuylenburg ofs: Heather, a member of the Oxford fraternity made her profession in the chapel at Greyfriars, Oxford. Heather is second from the left on the front row of this photo. A joyous addition to the Fraternity and to the Franciscan family.

We give thanks to the Father for the gift of this profession which enriches the whole community of the Secular Franciscan Order in Great Britain. May we be united with Heather in prayer as she continues her Franciscan journey. May the fraternal bonds of community always be our help.

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Francis and the Sultan Presentation Franciscan International Study Centre

On Wednesday 25th November,  at 7.00pm, Michael Cusato OFM, will present a lecture on Francis and the Sultan.


Extending as far back as 19th and 20th century colonialism, the aftermath of the First World War, and certainly since the events of 9/11 in the States and 7/7 in Great Britain, the relationship of the West with the Islamic world has been marked by bitter tensions, harmful stereotyping and outbursts of violence from various quarters on both sides. A similar, if less complex, relationship between Christianity and Islam, Christians and Muslims, also existed in the Middle Ages during the lifetime of St. Francis of Assisi.

However, Francis’ famous encounter of the Ayyubid sultan of Egypt, Malik al-Kamil, in August of 1219, marks a decisively different approach to this relationship fraught with mistrust, fear and hatred. Indeed, in the light of recent events, it stands as a potential, even promising model for bringing faithful believers of both religions together on the basis of mutual respect and the recognition of our common sacred dignity under God. This presentation will lay out the specifics of this story and explore the reasoning behind Francis’ voyage to Damietta in 1219, how that encounter affected the Poor Man of Assisi for the rest of his life and whether any of his brothers – Christian or Muslim – took up the challenging paradigm of the saint and the sultan.


For more information, please call 01227 769349 or email


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Some happenings since the election by Paula, National Minister concerning National Seat and “Finding St Francis” DVD

National Seat

Immediately after leaving the electoral chapter at Wistaston Hall, I took Tibor, our Minister General, to visit the OFM Conventual Custos, Fr. Peter Damian. Tibor was a very easy travelling companion but I was quite exhausted by the time we reached the friary in Waterloo on Sunday evening.  Fr Peter Damian informed us that we would soon be able to visit the OFM Conventual friary in Barton, Manchester, to see the premises of our proposed national seat. I was relieved and quite excited by this news.

Incidentally, I learned from Tibor that even a short visit is worth making.

We had been invited to stay with Betsey Hart that night and she gave us very welcome hospitality.  Next day she drove Tibor to Gatwick.

A couple of weeks ago, Fr Peter Damian invited me to a meeting in Barton on 26th November.  I asked Pam Thornton and Andrea Hambleton to join us.

As it was a morning meeting, I stayed with Pam in Liverpool the night before.  I am always very pleased to be able to stay with a member of the OFS.  Hospitality seems to come easily and it gives us an opportunity to get to know one another better.  I am not familiar with much of the North of England and was surprised that it only took about 45 minutes to travel from Pam’s home to the friary.

We met the two friars who live at All Saints Friary, Fr Brendan and Br Christopher.  I had never met Fr Brendan but I remember Christopher from the Franciscan International Study Centre some years ago.  Andrea had a difficult journey and arrived a bit later.

As you know, we have no central office, no fixed address nor place of contact so our archives and resources are either looked after by individual members, often at home, or stored where we hold meetings. CIOFS made it clear that we need to have a national address and the OFM Conventuals have provided this space. The premises we are being offered is the old printing press and it is more than adequate for us.   It is situated in the grounds of the church and friary and we will have direct access to an office space, leading into a good sized room, with additional storage space that will meet our needs.  We will have a contract.  We will have to budget for this and it would make sense to use the venue for meetings. I hope I will manage a week there before Christmas. It was important that we saw the place, met the friars and that I did not go on my own.

A mini holiday with my husband

I have since had a few days’ break in East Anglia without computer access. I was more than ready for some time away and Dave and I enjoyed it very much.  We managed to meet Debbie Bool and Rob (and Clare) Hardie. We found Norwich lovely, small enough to see in 3 days.


“Finding St Francis” DVD

I got back to attend the Premier of the DVD “Finding Saint Francis” at the BFI, South Bank. London. Fr Tom Reist, Principal of FISC, Fr Stefano, one of the lecturers at FISC, Salvina and Declan from Croydon fraternity were there. We were invited by John Wiltshire, TSSF, one of the directors who has had a limited involvement with FISC.

A booklet accompanying the DVD contains the aims which I paraphrase:

  1. To tell the story of Francis and give selected details to show many facets of his character
  2. To make the story relevant to a modern audience by placing the story in a modern context
  3. To show the cast, including the audience we see as part of the film are on a journey to find St Francis

First of all I think we owe sincere thanks to those who took this step of producing another resource about Francis.  A lot of thought went into this production which was completed on a very limited budget.  Paul Alexander spoke to us after the DVD and told us that he had been wanting to present a film about St Francis for many years.  He produced a film based on John’s Gospel about 20 years ago and he wanted to do the same with Francis as his subject.  The production was set at Hilfield, a significant community of the Society of St Francis, in Dorset.

There is a film within the film.  A visitor comes to Hilfield, for personal recovery, only to find himself agreeing to act the role of Francis of Assisi in a film that is being made there.  Throughout, the story of Francis is being told to an audience of visitors with many significant episodes in Francis’ life being acted out and filmed in breaks away from the narration. The actors are dressed as friars or in modern day clothes, and actors often play more than one part.  The set moves between episodes from Franciscan sources and the audience and cast of the internal film in situ at Hilfield.  It is a bit like the idea of “The Little Flowers”, consisting of snapshots of Francis’ story.  Care has been taken with the selection of major episodes from the wealth of stories we have about Francis. It is for the observer of “Finding St Francis” to go deeper than the events.

There are drawings and pictures of Assisi, and the other places where the episodes occurred, but the actual location is summer in Dorset.  Knowing Assisi and many other key places, I found this strange initially but in the end it really worked for me.  I have to admit that I found the anglicising of Italian names strange to my ears, having spent years trying to learn to say these in recognisable Italian.  I soon recognised that this was merely a distraction and I got used to it.

I found that the English setting is in keeping with this interpretation, because, this, like every other Franciscan source, is a personal interpretation so can never be the same as mine or that of anyone else who has taken time to develop a relationship with “their” Francis. The advantage of this, for me, is that it makes me reflect on what I feel is different and then question myself about why.

For those who do not know the story of Francis, there is nothing I would feel I had to add or take away from the film. With some audiences I would certainly find areas of interest to discuss and reflect upon. This would depend on  knowledge of Francis and experience of the Franciscan charism.

For details of streaming/downloading/ purchasing the DVD, visit








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