Hilfield's new Winter Trail


Click on this link to go to our Environment Page to view or download our new Winter Trail:  http://hilfieldfriary.org.uk/environment/

This is the first of the new series of seasonal trails around the Friary.  Please use it, either ‘virtually’ from home, or for real at the Friary.  We hope you enjoy it and would love to know what you think.  It is a new development for us, and if you have any feedback, please send it to hilfieldssf@franciscans.org.uk

Keep an eye out for our Spring Trail!!


Greetings from Brother Clark Berge, SSF

What a joy to be at Hilfield, and a privilege to be the new Guardian.

The Chapter elected me Guardian at St. Francis-tide. There was a subsequent period of angst over the visa application that lasted until December 22, when I got notice that I had been issued a Tier 2 Religious Workers Visa. The earliest I could travel to UK was January 14, and I arrived at 7:00 a.m. on the 15th.

My first two weeks have been a time of settling in: arranging my new room (which was freshly painted for me), creating an office space separate from my bedroom, and learning about the life of the friary, not least of it was getting everybody’s name right.

Part of getting to know everybody has involved telling my story. Here’s a brief summary:

I was born in 1958 and raised in western Washington State, USA, in a small town called Snohomish. I graduated High School there, in 1976, then attended Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington State. One year after finishing my Bachelor’s degree in English Literature I matriculated at The General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church in New York City in September 1981. Graduated and was ordained Deacon in 1984. I served at the Church of St. Mary the Virgin in New York City for a year, living in and administering on behalf of the parish a shelter program for homeless women and children in collaboration with a not-for-profit organization, Women In Need.

When I was ordained Priest in 1985 I moved back to my home Diocese of Olympia in Western Washington and served in Tacoma as Associate Rector of Christ Church Parish and Chaplain at the Annie Wright School. I grew to love my work in those two institutions, but I was all stirred up about a more radical Christian life. The memory of my life among the homeless, a longing for a Christian community life of prayer and meals and work became a sub-theme of my preaching. Finally, a friend gave me a book about St. Francis, commenting that after nearly four years of hearing me preach she thought I would enjoy the book.

What a powerful gift and bolt from God that book gave me! Within a year I had made plans to join the Society of St. Francis, and in 1989 I moved to Long Island, New York to a friary we had there for many years, Little Portion Friary.

Initially bounced around the friaries: Long Island, New York, then San Francisco, California, back to Brooklyn, New York, and then to Hautambu, Solomon Islands. In 1996 I returned to Long Island and stayed there until 2007 as Guardian. In 2007 I was elected Minister General of SSF and served until the end of June in 2017. After racking up nearly 85,000 miles every year of airmiles, I was longing for a rest, and the First Order Chapter gave me a sabbatical of six months. I arranged to take this in Portland, Oregon, a city close enough to my family home and the brothers in San Francisco. But also, far away enough to let go and unwind.

The themes of my ministry have been hospitality, social justice, spiritual accompaniment/direction of many seekers. From the early days in homeless shelters, then working to involve the students at the Annie Wright School in caring for the poor, I have involved myself in ministry with migrant Latino farm workers on Long Island, and lately Eritrean refugees in Europe. These social justice initiatives always seemed to involve many hours preparing food. I grew up cooking and have been very happy to discover a good meal is often a great organizing tool and a way to bring cohesion to a group—or at least get everybody at the same table! From my high school days, I have always loved working on farms and gardens. I have raised vegetables on Long Island and helped subsistence farming in the Solomon Islands. I love outdoor work, and the opportunity it gives for sharing and creating bonds among brothers, and here at Hilfield with the volunteers and other community members.

When I had an opportunity to speak with representatives of the Hilfield community in June when I began to consider the possibility of being Guardian, I was asked about my vision for the friary. At first, I was flummoxed, because friary life is sometimes hard to wrap your arms around, let alone spouting visions. But I finally said that while I didn’t have a pre-packaged vision or plan for the place, my experience has been that as we live together and reflect on things we have been doing, the coming together of many minds gives rise to a new way of doing things. The people who are living together often know the answers to the problems they face. All I want is to be part of what is happening and help every member reach their fullest potential in communion with each other and the wider church and world.

The most important thing is that we don’t lose sight of the importance of every member of the community and care for all our constituent parts: people, land, animals, gardens, worship life, refectory meals, hospitality to all comers and reaching out to the world to inject a note of concern and common sense into the concerns of our society. We will speak most effectively about ecological justice if we live mindfully on our land. Our concern for social justice needs the imprimatur of equitable relations among ourselves. Our hospitality must be unconditional if we seek to influence concern for migrants and refugees and asylum seekers.

We are blessed to have an exquisitely beautiful place from which to engage the world, to experiment with ways to make community life thrive. I believe God has given us a place like Hilfield so that many people can experience God’s blessings in the interplay of silence and laughter, liturgy and manual labor, Eucharist and happy family dinners. You can’t have this by yourself, it takes many people.

So, consider yourself invited to be part of it all in any way you can. Come eat and pray and play with us, pitch in as you are able. Help us create the vision.clarkfornews

Hilfield Monthly Clubs in 2018

Clarissa the contemplative cow

Clarissa, one of our Hilfield herd, looking contemplative and beautiful in our field yesterday, 13th November 2017.clarrissaws

A new arrival

A beautiful little heifer was born on Saturday 11th November.  The little one and her mother Anna are both doing well.  Little one is as yet unnamed.novcalf

Franciscan Peacemaking weekend

The Franciscan Peacemaking weekend from 3rd to 5th November was well attended.  We looked at Francis’ way of making peace and how we might use our insights to make peace in our own communities.


Annabelle visits Hilfield

This is a photograph of Annabelle and her good friend Br Vincent.  Annabelle used to be a volunteer at Hilfield.  It was lovely to see her again.AnnabelleandVincentOct2017

Br Hugh is Hilfield's Green Champion

The Church Times Green Awards ceremony was on 16th October 2017 in Lambeth Palace. Br Hugh here at Hilfield was nominated. The judges declared that all the 5 on the short list for the Green Champion award were winners so split the award equally.

Here is a link to the Church Times Facebook page where you can see all the photos: https://www.facebook.com/pg/churchtimes/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1575186865879810


Br Vincent celebrates the diamond anniversary of his Profession - 60 years today 17th October 2017

Br Vincent’s favourite cake is lardy so Suzi made one especially for him to celebrate this special day.  Also a very special Wollemi Pine sapling arrived today; a gift from some of his friends.vinnieday1

Celebrating the Feast of the Stigmata at Hilfield on Saturday 16th September 2017

Sam Stigmata 2017waBr Sam talking about the significance of Hilfield’s Chapel at the Festival of the Stigmata held at the Friary on Saturday 16th September. The building has been central to the life of the Friary and before when it was part of Flower’s Farm and then the Little Commonwealth.

Hilfield Friary Community member Kerri Canepa to be licensed as a Lay Minister at Salisbury Cathedral

After three years of study, Hilfield community member, Kerri Canepa, has successfully completed her lay ministry course! The service where she will be commissioned and licensed with take place on Saturday 30 September at Salisbury Cathedral during Choral Evensong, beginning at 5:30 pm. She would appreciate very much your prayers as she prepares to be commissioned as a Licensed Lay Minister. Please come and support her; all are welcome!KerriCopt

The Franciscan Magazine - the voice of the Society of St Francis

Professor Northcott speaking at Hilfield Friary

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Hilfield Friary supporting toybox.org.uk

a charity dedicated to the plight of children

With the generous donations of our Hilfield shop patrons we managed to raise £69.71 for the charity,we are so proud to be able to assist a charity that is dedicated to helping the most vunerable of our society with the grace of God behind them at every step.

If you would like to donate please click the button below.

Young People Exploring Ecology and Spirituality

Hilfield Friary welcomes young people from schools, colleges and youth organizations for day visits or residential stays, to share in the life and the work of the Friary Community and to experience how ecology and religious faith are interconnected.

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Opportunities for Young People

  • Friary tours – sharing about living the Franciscan life today
  • Learning to live simply and sustainably
  • Nature trails, plant and wildlife surveys; discovering how plants and animals help each other
  • Days in the wild, finding material for sustaining life; ‘hedgerow harvest’
  • Developing and maintaining a school garden
  • Respecting and learning from animals
  • What we do with waste – how rubbish isn’t rubbish
  • An introduction to St Francis of Assisi and his insights of the natural world
  • The miracle of bread – the relationships of food

For Students at key stage 3 and above

Hilfield offers the chance to reflect on the impact of religion and belief on an understanding of our relationship with the natural world. It gives opportunity for students to learn that concern for the environment involves issues of spirituality as well as science, technology, economics, social justice and politics – an exploration of an ‘integral ecology’ that draws upon the Franciscan tradition. Community members with experience in both the theory and practice of wise and sustainable ecology are available to provide input for students and material for discussion.

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  • Facilities Conference room for 40
  • Rooms for smaller groups
  • Overnight accommodation for up to 13

For Teachers and Youth Leaders

  • A place to meet for planning and discussion
  • A place to chill out – for rest, retreat or recreation.


There is no charge for day visits by young people, though donations are always welcome! For overnight accommodation our normal request for those under 18 is £20 per day full board. There is a Bursary Fund available to help cover the cost of this and transport to and from the Friary.