Some happenings since the election by Paula, National Minister concerning National Seat and “Finding St Francis” DVD
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:
- To tell the story of Francis and give selected details to show many facets of his character
- To make the story relevant to a modern audience by placing the story in a modern context
- 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 www.littleportionfilms.com/shop