Monday, July 28, 2008

Tea and Strawberries

Sunday afternoon there was a gathering of all “Franciscan connected” bishops at Greyfriars (the SSF friary) in Canterbury. The protector General of the Order, Bishop George Connor of Dunedin, New Zealand sent out sixty or so invitations. We got about 15 Bishops and their spouses (percentage-wise not so bad, considering the other alluring events on offer at the same time), and were joined by the Third Order members and First Order Brothers and Sisters attending the Prayer Witness that the Third Order has organized, and the First Order Brothers serving with me on the Lambeth Chaplaincy team.

We began in the small chapel, built by the brothers who came to England in 1224, arriving in the same week St. Francis was receiving the Stigmata at la Verna. Bishop George, Sr. Joyce, the MG of the Sisters of the Community of St. Francis, me, and Dorothy Brooker, the MG of the Third Order spoke about the life and work of each order, and we also heard a bit about the Poor Clare Sisters at Freeland. Br. Colin Wilfred spoke briefly of the history of Greyfriars. Then Sister Jean, the Minster Provincial of the Province of the Americas said a prayer. It was a very casual event, full of good humor and a desire to get better acquainted: exactly the kind of Franciscan event I love.

Then we walked across the garden for tea. Of course there was great food! We ate heaps of strawberries, scones with clotted cream, and drank tea or coffee, all fixed by the Third Order. They also bought the huge tent or marquee as they call it, because it will also come in handy in the future. It was a wonderful oasis of Franciscan hospitality, and connecting as family. Many thanks to the brothers at Greyfriars and the Tertiaries who worked so hard on the event!!

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