Festival Day & Auction updates from Fr John

I hope that you are all managing to live with the lockdown. I know that some of you will have sorrow and anxiety so that a simple ‘I hope that you are all keeping’ well does not fit the bill. I know and believe that God will be with you and bless you wherever you are.

I have received quite a number enquires about the Festival weekend. As Robert Burn’s says ‘To a Mouse’ ‘the best laid plans of mice and men oft go astray’. There is very little chance that the Festival will be held under normal conditions. We are determined that we will still celebrate our thanksgiving for all that God has given to us and the CR family. We are hoping to stream our services, and will continue to make plans over the coming weeks. Further details will be published in the June quarterly, on our website and in the next Newsletter so ‘watch this space’.

Speaking of mice one of the great moments in auction history was the day when during the first Mirfield Auction my brother George brought the gavel down and pronounced ‘sold’ for £18,000 on the set of Thompson furniture. The Thompson signature is a little mouse carved somewhere on every item. Even if one could afford it most of us wouldn’t have room for a Thompson suite so this year’s auction is offering you the opportunity to appreciate just a taste of Mouseman craftsmanship in the form of this lovely Thompson napkin ring. Please don’t forget that I need donations and take the opportunity to look for things that you no longer want. I have been offered several exciting items including rare coins and a beautiful Beijing antique clock. If you have anything that you think would be good for the sales please let me know so as I can be prepared to receive them once the doors open again.

The campaign is going reasonably well and is giving me light relief from all the bad news and sad news that is around us at the moment. My smallest item is a fourpenny piece, my largest is an organ and my most beautiful is a burse and veil (see the auction album).

The Corona troubles are very sad and even though for most people it means upset of our routine, travel problems and many other frustrations for many others it is pain fear and disaster.  Let us remember them in our prayers, be thankful for what we have and don’t panic. There is one verse that helps me face all possible futures – ‘Will not the righteous Lord do right?’

My love and prayers to you all,
John CR

Support CR while you Shop!

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Quarantine can’t quell quizzing!

It’s certainly true that we’re in strange times at the moment, but it must also be said that the lockdown is still allowing for glimpses of happier times to shine through. The college was really thankful to Laura, who recently organised a stonking quiz night to round off the celebration of St George’s day (April 23). It was particularly good to be together with our brothers and sisters of the college – albeit virtually – except maybe for the literal G&Ts enjoyed which really lent a feel of Thursday bar-nights to the proceedings!

 I enjoyed hosting Thomas CR and Charlie, our postulant – (himself a college alumnus) – for the evening, and their presence onscreen ensured that we romped home with a winning score following rounds on a range of topics from Name that cathedral to Food and Drink, English literature and Animals. We had a great laugh together and a memorable time amidst the vicissitudes of the lockdown. Thanks to all who took part, and again to Laura, our sister for organising. God awaits us yet with the fruits of fellowship and love in our difficulties. I remain thankful for these, and not least that quarantine cannot quell quizzing!

Marc CR

To hear more from Br Marc about his time in lockdown please watch his interview with Caleb of York Gateway church.

Sponsored bike-ride postponed

Many thanks to all those who have already donated to the sponsored bike ride in aid of Tariro Hope for Youth in Zimbabwe. You won’t be surprised to hear we have had to postpone it. I am hoping we’ll be able to do it in September or October, but at present of course it’s impossible to do any planning. We are living in strict isolation, but are very lucky to have our grounds. I have explored the possibility of doing enough circuits of our grounds to cover the planned distance of the ride, but the terrain is too difficult – the one circuit I did, with a mountain bike, almost did me in. It would also be boring, and cut out all the people who are going to be involved, so I was relieved it didn’t work. We’ll be letting you know in due course when we hope to fire the starting-pistol, but in the meantime many thanks for your support. Tariro needs it, and will need it even more after this crisis.

George CR

News from the College – May 2020

Due to the Covid19 Pandemic it was with deep regret that the College had to close its doors, and our Students departed uncertain as to whether they could gather again before ordinations take place. Like other educational institutions, we have had to make greater use of remote teaching methods to ensure our current students can complete their studies. We have also made special arrangements for students who may wish to train at the College from September this year. Applicants are invited for a Skype Interview with the Principal and two members of the academic staff. They are further offered the contact details of students who are making themselves available for telephone or skype conversations and even a Zoom-Tour! We have seen good numbers of prospective students this year and hope these measures will keep the Mirfield option open to as many as possible. The College has also published an Audio-Visual introduction to life, study and formation in Mirfield, and hope it will be seen and enjoyed by any prospective students.

If you are interested in joining the College or require further information please contact gjohnson@mirfield.org.uk

Disability – accessible accommodation and facilities
We do not want any ordination candidates to be excluded from our training offer, and to ensure we are fully accessible for wheelchair users we need to make alterations to the existing building. There are plans in hand to create changes to accommodation, teaching rooms, doorways and corridors. We have started looking into funding for the project and would be delighted to receive your support and ideas.

New Curriculum & Common Awards
Durham University is replacing Sheffield as our principal university partner and from September 2020 new students will be offered courses leading to the qualifications of the Common Awards suite of degrees and diplomas. Until summer 2021, we shall also be “teaching out” the Sheffield BA and so honouring the academic commitments made to existing students of the college. A greater compatibility with the training pathways of other TEIs might afford those undertaking predominantly non-residential training the opportunity to experience a period of residence within our distinct community.

Streaming Our Services

We have talked for several years about streaming our services, but daunted by what we thought were the technical challenges, and also thinking our singing too ropey. Then came the lockdown, and we took an instant decision on Saturday 21st March – with the help of our tech-savvy student Ryan, we then found ourselves on the air for the first time on the following morning, using an old tablet held in place on a broom-handle with an elastic band. We have attempted to obtain better equipment, but having tried 3 tablets and sent them all back, we were still left with our old original tablet, which then started becoming temperamental, switching off when it felt like it. So we moved on to one of the brethren’s mobile phones, with good pictures but poor sound quality. At the time of writing we are trying a borrowed iPad. The main thing is that it happens, and we have amazing numbers of people participating from all over the world. It is hoped to produce an article about all this in our next CR Quarterly Review – if you have any thoughts or experiences to contribute, please do send them to us by the end of May.

George CR

Spring arrives at the Communtiy

I could not think of a better place to be ‘stuck’ than the grounds of the Community of the Resurrection. They are a real blessing to those of us who are fortunate enough to live in and around them, and especially so with the beautiful weather we have been experiencing of late.

Watching the blossom appear on the trees, followed by the green foliage gradually unfolding, and although the numerous varieties of daffodils have now died back, the floor is carpeted with bluebells.

The dawn chorus is as beautiful as any sung mattins, as the birds begin to attract their mate and mark out their territory. The chiffchaffs and blackcaps have returned from their warmer winter climates of the Mediterranean, and hopefully in the coming days we shall also begin to see swifts, swallows and house martins, having completed their long journey from Sub-Saharan Africa. As ever the tawny owls continue to fill the night air, along with the many bats, and the high-pitched calls of buzzards can be heard in the day as they soar in the sky high above, while also from time to time being seen performing aerobatics by lower church.

Many beautiful butterflies have also been appearing over the past month, with at least 10 species having been spotted. Hopefully soon the dragonflies too will be out dancing by the pond.

Whilst out in the grounds the upper church bell continues to toll, as the brothers once again begin to gather for prayer, signalling some things do not change. I find this comforting; not only as it connects my daily prayer to theirs, but also as a continuous reminder of the whole church being drawn together and upheld in prayer by one another.

Joanne CoR

The Cowley Fathers Philadelphia – A Review by Canon Dr John F Twisleton.

From New Directions

As a beneficiary of the Catholic vision of both the Mirfield and Cowley Fathers I enjoyed Mirfield monk Steven Haws’ story of the work done by Cowley in Philadelphia from 1876-1891. St Clement, Philadelphia being his home parish equipped Steven CR especially for this labour of love chronicling ministries of evangelisation, catechesis, spiritual direction and lay empowerment for service that gave heart to the early Episcopal Church. Brother Steven relays the heart for mission of Society of St John the Evangelist (SSJE) founder Father Benson.  The founder saw his Cowley Fathers’ outreach as ‘humble means of awaking souls, and bringing them to a devout use of the ordinary means of grace’ especially when SSJE were put at the disposal of parish clergy for weeks under the patronage of St John the Evangelist. 

A parochial mission by SSJE in St Clement, Philadelphia 1874 opened the way for the order to run that parish from 1876 bringing through sacrifice and good humoured service, in the face of episcopal opposition, significant church growth and a deepening of spiritual life rippling out from their venture. Disputes about prayer for the dead and sacramental confession were sidelined by this dynamic which enriched the Episcopal Church in the way the Oxford Movement enriched the Church of England. Part of that enrichment was revival of religious life starting with SSJE itself, the first post-Reformation order for men. 

The work at St Clements was heartened by the example of UK priests like Arthur Tooth jailed 1877 for ritual ‘crimes’ and through the visit to Philadelphia in 1880 of Fr Mackonochie. The Vicar of St Alban’s, Holborn preached outside Church due to a parallel ritual ban imposed on St Clement’. Like Mackonochie, SSJE gained approval for work evidently true to Christ’s Incarnation in its simultaneous addressing of spiritual poverty and social deprivation. 

Steven Haws portrays Fathers Benson, Prescott, Maturin, Sheppard, Field, Longridge, Convers and Brother Maynard celebrating their gifts of preaching, administration, music, youth engagement and spiritual wisdom. Field became a hero of the Johnstown flood disaster of 1889 vividly described in the book. The ascetic witness of SSJE linked to Field’s Guild of the Iron Cross founded 1882 through which ultimately thousands of men were drawn to make this costly pledge: ‘I pledge myself to resist the sin of intemperance, and will use my influence to prevent the commission of this sin by others. I pledge myself to resist the sin of blasphemy, to honour God’s name and bless my fellow men. I pledge myself to resist the sin of impurity in thought, word and deed, and to use my influence to draw others from evil talking and immoral living’. Persuading so many to make such a commitment puts the missionary achievements of 21st century Anglicanism well into the shade.

‘The Cowley Fathers in Philadelphia’ reminded me how much the Church owes to the power houses of religious life and of our need to pray and work for their revival and for a rise in costly discipleship unashamed to be counter-cultural. In all the ecclesiastical disputes they braved, SSJE at St Clement’s did not let their discipleship, nor presentation to others of the claims of discipleship, slip and neither should we who brave similar trials.

The Cowley Fathers in Philadelphia is available from the Mirfield Bookshop please click here for more information.