Monday, November 22, 2004

The Catholic faith
Letter from Mirfield
From friend and ordinand Michael Greene:

Unfortunately, I only got to know one of the most fascinating people ever involved in this community* at the very end of his life. Fr. Aelred, one of the pillars of the monastery for half a century, died at the end of October. He led a truly remarkable life: He helped to found the CR priory in South Africa, and became one of the first outspoken voices against apartheid. He served as personal spiritual director to Stephen Biko, whose widow attended his funeral. He was also spiritual director to Michael Ramsay up to and including part of his time as the Archbishop of Canterbury. His funeral was indescribably beautiful, and while there was much grief, the character was undeniably one of celebration for a life well-lived. Newcomers to this environment (myself included) were all struck by the power of the cycle of rituals surrounding the burial of a brother. What an incredible thing it is to be part of a place that has produced and continues to produce people who live that kind of life! The monks of this house have been actively in involved in some of the most important political and spiritual struggles of the last century both in England and throughout the world.

In addition to the Anglican Communion, there are currently very strong connections to the Armenian Church and the Romanian Orthodox Church. The CR has funded the construction of an Orthodox seminary in Romania, and as a result a very active dialogue with that church has begun. There is a fledgeling Romanian Orthodox congregation that meets in the College chapel and is growing by the week; and every term, Romanian seminarians are sent here to study. Another of my classmates is an Armenian priest who is in charge of a missionary congregation in Manchester, and is being groomed for the episcopate in the Armenian church. Next month we will be visited by the Catholicos of All Armenia who will be consecrating a new building for Fr. Gevork’s Church. Gevork is quite a character; he speaks English quite well, but his spelling leaves something to be desired: As guestmaster for the college, he recently left a note with some visiting prospective students asking them “out of love for Christ please to leave your shits folded on the bed when you go.” You can imagine the week of jokes that followed.
*The Community of the Resurrection, an Anglican religious order of men, whose motherhouse is in Mirfield, Yorkshire.

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