Around the Regions July 2018

If regions would send us information about their activities and events they can be included in a monthly “Around the Regions” post. Please contact info@ofsgb.org

Southern Region

Southern region are inviting members of other regions to two events (see pdf’s below): a celebration “Loving God’s Creation” to be held at Wintershall, near Guildford, Surrey on 11th August. The day will be led by Dr Martin and Rev Margot Hodson. Martin Hodson is a plant scientist and environmental biologist.  He is Principal Tutor of Christian Rural and Environmental Studies and has written numerous books, including several with his wife Margot (an Anglican Rector), for example `Cherishing the Earth` and `A Christian Guide to Environmental Issues.` For more information about them see their website.

Then, in November, the Ladywell fraternity is inviting members of other Franciscan fraternities and ALL those with a `Franciscan heart` to join them at Park Place Pastoral Centre near Fareham, Hants for a weekend retreat “Be Still and Know”.

Remembering that the South Wales and South West weekend event in Cardiff in 2016 on the theme of “The Holy Year of Mercy and our Franciscan Response” was attended by members from six of our nine regions, and by members of TSSF, it is hoped that we may again have a good response from our regions.

Events such as these offer valuable opportunities for affirming, supporting and encouraging one another on our Franciscan journey, for an enriching inter-regional fraternal exchange of views and for exploring the Franciscan way forward in unity and friendship. They can be inspirational.

Please also see the diary entries for the Wintershall event and for the Park Place Pastoral Centre retreat.

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East Anglian Region
Our brother, Donald Jones, who has been a loyal, joyful, happy member of Bedford Gospel-to-Life fraternity for over 40 years, died peacefully on 3rd July , having been attended by Canon John Koenig from St. Edwards, Kettering.

His funeral will take place at St. Edwards Church, 2 the Grove, Kettering, NN15 7QQ on WEDNESDAY 25TH JULY 2018.

 

Gibraltar: Anthem for the Third OFS – Youfra Congress in Kaunus, Lithuania.
Congratulations to Victor Francis and the Gibraltar fraternity. As some of you will know they have won the competition for the composition of the Anthem for the upcoming OFS – Youfra Congress in Lithuania from 20th to 26th August. Victor’s piece is called “Rivers of Living Water” and you can hear it here.

And Finally ….
The National Council photographed last month (June) at the new National Seat at Arkley….

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National Minister: For the Feast of St Francis

MEA CULPA! Paula asked me to post this on 29th September but I overlooked it! Apologies to all.

Here is a link to the General Audience of Pope John Paul II that Paula mentions in her text.

Roger

From Paula Pearce, our National Minister: Some Thoughts for the Feast of St Francis

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The Trump Travel Ban and the challenge of the UK Community Sponsorship Scheme

Mindful that they are bearers of peace which must be built up unceasingly, they should seek out ways of unity and fraternal harmony through dialogue, trusting in the presence of the divine seed in everyone and in the transforming power of love and pardon.” (OFS Rule, Art. 19)

 
As you will know US President Donald Trump recently issued an Executive Order banning travel to the USA from seven Muslim-majority countries. Enforcement of this order has been suspended since a federal district judge in Seattle issued a temporary restraining order against it. That injunction was upheld by the ninth circuit court of appeals in a 9 February ruling.
Now, according to various news sources, such as Reuters and The Wall Street Journal, President Trump plans to rescind his executive order and replace it with a new one. “Rather than continuing this litigation, the President intends in the near future to rescind the Order and replace it with a new, substantially revised Executive Order to eliminate what the panel erroneously thought were constitutional concerns,” the justice department writes in a brief to the ninth circuit court of appeals. A draft of President Donald Trump’s revised immigration ban targets the same seven countries listed in his original executive order (Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, and Libya), and exempts travelers who already have a visa to travel to the U.S., even if they haven’t used it yet.
 
It is good to see the Franciscans of the United States have taken a stand on this issue in prayer for and solidarity with our refugee and immigrant brothers and sisters. The Franciscan Friars of the United States have issued this statement signed by the Provincials of the seven OFM provinces in the USA. And Carolyn Townes, the OFS National Animator for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) in the United States has said that “The U.S. Seculars will stand with and support our brother Friars as well as our Bishops.” She says: “Let us come together in prayer and solidarity for our refugee and immigrant brothers and sisters!” And she offers this “Prayer for Migrants” from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:

Merciful and loving Father,
We beseech you, open our hearts so that we may provide hospitality and refuge to migrants who are lonely, afraid, and far from their homes. Give us the courage to welcome every stranger as Christ in our midst, to invite them into our communities as a demonstration of Christ’s love for us. We pray that when we encounter the other, we see in her the face of your Son, when we meet a stranger, that we take his hand in welcome. Help us to live in solidarity with one another, to seek justice for those who are persecuted and comfort for those who are suffering. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.  (The Prayer for Migrants, USCCB)

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website also has these reflections on Catholic Social Teaching on Immigration.
 
May we in the Secular Franciscan Order in Great Britain stand together with our sisters and brothers in the USA. And may we, as communities, respond to the challenge of the UK Community Sponsorship Scheme that Cardinal Vincent Nichols outlined to us when he spoke recently on the BBC Radio 4 Westminster Hour. The Cardinal spoke about President Trump’s executive order, and he also spoke in praise of the The UK Community Sponsorship Scheme, a UK government-backed initiative that enables community groups – including the Catholic Church, its agencies and charities – to take on the role of welcoming and supporting resettled refugees in the UK.

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In the interview, the Cardinal explained that safety ‘is not secured by fear, it is secured by improving relationships…by opening up things not shutting them down.’ He also expressed concern that the executive order ‘increases the risk faced by Christian communities in the Middle East because it implicitly backs a false notion that this conflict is between Christians and Muslims. It increases the image of Christianity as a Western phenomenon.’
Reflecting on political leaders’ duty of care, Cardinal Vincent emphasised that this is ‘a question of how you exercise that duty’. The Cardinal expressed his concern that the executive order would not help. ‘Safety can never be the overall and ultimate aim, because if we try and live safely by simplifying, identifying others as our enemies, then we live in an increasingly enclosed mentality and an enclosed environment and that is not the best way for people to live.’

Speaking then in praise and encouragement of the The UK Community Sponsorship Scheme he said ‘The challenge is not only to the government, but to the communities in this country who often speak about their generosity, to really take up this opportunity. Then, I would hope, that programme can be speeded up and expanded.’

Cardinal Vincent acknowledged the difficulty in making decisions regarding acceptance of more refugees, but emphasised that ‘the intention that we play a concerted effort to solve this dramatic crisis of our time is very important because otherwise it is the extreme voices that win, whether they’re the extreme terrorist voices or the populist voices. I don’t believe that any form of leadership is best exercised by using fear.’
The full BBC Radio 4 Westminster Hour interview is available to listen to here.

Do let us know of any initiatives drawn from the Community Sponsorship Scheme (or similar projects) that your fraternities, your regions or your parishes are engaging in or planning to engage in. An excellent Presence in the World project.

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