January 2020 - Mucknell Abbey
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Mucknell Abbey

January 2020

Wednesday 1st, Feast of the Naming of Jesus – A Happy (non-liturgical) New Year to you all. Today is the last day of our Christmas Octave. This is a chance for us to spend some time together as a Community, get some rest, and a meet up with friends and family. We have also been enjoying some of the wonderful gifts that our friends and benefactors have given us over the Christmas period. Thank you!

Above: our Magi on the way to Jesus. Obviously you can’t follow a star in the daylight.

Saturday 4th to Sunday 5th – We were pleased to offer a room for the night to Luke and Zac, who arrived on a tandem on their way to Bejing. Luke is the son of a friend of Sr Alison, and in June 2018 he was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer, In an effort to show that ‘cancer is not a barrier’ to living, and the importance of living in the present, he is proposing to cycle 23,000 miles from Bristol to Bejing. He will be joined by other young people with cancer along the way, and has already raised almost £21,000 for a range of cancer charities. You can read more about this amazing adventure here and help him to reach his target of £23,000 here.

Brs Stuart, Thomas and Anthony sending them on their way.

Wednesday 8th – The birth of baby Ella at 1.15pm made a grandmother of Sr Sally, who at the time of writing (not the 8th!) has just returned from a weekend with the very happy and exhausted parents.

Thursday 9th – Sr Jessica, Br Adrian and myself went to a meeting at Southwark with other junior members of Anglican Religious communities to share our thoughts and ideas with Dr Peta Dunstan and others about the new website that is being developed for Anglican Religious life. This focused in particular on the question of vocations, and what we had found helpful and unhelpful in our own journeys. Incidentally, if you would like to read some vocation stories do visit the blog maintained by Br Finnian SSF at https://vocations.home.blog/

Thursday 16th – Br Stuart presided at a Requiem Mass for our friend the Rev’d Tim Pittock (1944-2019) at Bristol Cathedral. He was joined by Br Ian. Tim was a former chaplain and counsellor at Bristol University and has been a retreatant with us for many years.

Saturday 18th – We welcomed two members of the Community of St Anselm (COSA) as our guests for the week: Franklin from the USA and Lei from China. With them was Demarius, a former member of COSA who is now studying at the Virginia Theologial Seminary and is taking the opportunity for a silent retreat before starting a new term.

This is now our fourth year, I think, of hosting Anselmi. Others will come for a month long stay after Easter. Both occasions are an opportunity to learn at first hand about traditional Religious Life.

Have you read the new Support Us page?

Sunday 19th – As part of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity we invited the Roman Catholic Bernardine Cistercian Sisters of Brownshill in Gloucestershire for tea and Vespers. This year we missed Fr Peter Claver, their chaplain, as he was on holiday. However we enjoyed the company of his stand-in, who had once been a monk at Quarr Abbey.

We have been taking it in turns to visit one another each January since Burford days (pre-2010). Their Superior, Sr Elizabeth Mary, recently joined Bishop John Inge in making his quinquiennial Visitation. By coincidence the Visitation Charge was delivered earlier on Sunday afternoon, and will give us much to think about over the coming months and years.

Br Michael holding a ‘show and tell’ with his icons. Franklin and Lei (COSA) on the right.

Wednesday 29th – Abbot Thomas, Br Adrian and myself attended the funeral of Br Anselm SSF (1930-2019) at St Bartholomew’s Church, Areley Kings in Worcestershire. Br Anselm, otherwise Robert Laine Smyth, had got to know the Society of St Francis through his involvement with the hop picking missions in Kent. Here he met our former Prioress, Sr Mary Bernard, when she was still going by the name of Joan Taylor. He joined SSF in 1953, was professed in 1956 and served as Minster Provincial from 1979 to 1991. The last years of his life were spent at nearby Glasshampton.