A hundred years is a significant milestone. It marks an achievement of the Holy Spirit at work among us for many years of prayer and ministry, and our willingness to collaborate in that work on this beautiful piece of land. The Hilfield Community has changed a lot over the years, its ministry adapting to the needs of the times. Concern for the poor is at the heart of our life and ministry. For many years we worked with wayfarers, now we are addressing the need for climate justice.
The Earth is now, in Franciscan language, one of the poor. Eco-justice is social justice. Gouged, rubbished, stained and ignored the earth has reached a breaking point. To be effective advocates we must love her. At all times this Franciscan home has sought to share the joy of Gospel life, bringing encouragement to others and giving thanks to God for God’s goodness. The Divine Office has been prayed without interruption these 100 years, and the Eucharist has been a stable point in the sometimes-disorienting press of people, and their different needs. The coming together at meals has proved to be one of the most effective ways of experiencing that new way of living Jesus brings to us. The dining table bridges nature out of doors and our human needs and consumption.
Classically, St Francis is celebrated for his love of nature. This Centennial year we deepen our embrace of the earth with joy but also lament. We are facing a climate crisis that demands urgent attention. We invite you to join us, either electronically or in person when that becomes possible again, in learning about the environment. We invite you to consider the lilies (and orchids) of the field and the birds of the air, to consider nature with wonder and awe during the many opportunities we provide this year. We also invite you to express that love with passion and commitment, looking for ways to live more sustainably yourself, to show others how it can be done, and to challenge the government and other leaders to legislate for and build a sustainable, carbon neutral world. Members of the community will be in Glasgow for COP26, and we are planning a weekend to reflect on our response to the conference. Simplicity, humility, reverence and commitment are the qualities we wish to celebrate in this Centennial year. Humility, love and joy are the hallmarks of our Franciscan life.
The Franciscan experiment in the Church of England and the Anglican Communion has witnessed a deeply relational spirituality: we are all part of one another—the human family, the animals, insects, plants and even the minerals. We want this Centennial year to be a time when we can celebrate with you and to build for a resilient, fruitful future. Appropriately, our programme year begins with quiet reflection and prayer.