Author: Ian Drew

COVID Awareness Sessions

COVID-19 – A Dress Rehearsal For Climate Change

COVID Awareness Sessions

“COVID-19 is not only a wake-up call, it is a dress rehearsal for the world of challenges to come.”, stated UN Secretary-General António Guterres during his address to the UN General Assembly in New York in September 2020.

According to health and biodiversity experts around the world, the current COVID-19 pandemic is deeply connected to the climate crisis and our continued venture into spaces previously occupied by nature to obtain new resources and farmland. In the 2015 report of the Rockefeller Foundation – Lancet Commission on planetary health, scientists observed:

“Health effects from changes to the environment including climatic change, ocean acidification, land degradation, water scarcity, overexploitation of fisheries, and biodiversity loss pose serious challenges to the global health gains of the past several decades and are likely to become increasingly dominant during the second half of this century and beyond. These striking trends are driven by highly inequitable, inefficient, and unsustainable patterns of resource consumption and technological development, together with population growth.”

We have reached a new era: the Anthropocene. An era in which humans shape the surface of our planet and, thereby, the fate of future generations.

UN statistics show that each year we destroy 10 million hectares of forest on our planet, mainly for gaining access to new farmland to feed growing populations worldwide. According to the World Wildlife Fund’s 2020 Living Planet Report, populations of nearly 21,000 species of mammals, fish, birds and amphibians declined by an average of 68 % globally between 1970 and 2016. Burning of fossil fuels and deforestation resulted in increases in the concentration of carbon in the Earth’s atmosphere by 47 % since the beginning of the Industrial Age, and by 11 % since the year 2000, resulting in global warming, changing weather patterns and more frequent extreme events. (Read more about SDG 13,14 and 15 at https://sdgs.un.org/goals)

But what we often seem to ignore is that by destroying our planet, we are also putting us humans at risk. The World Health Organisation estimates that between 2030 and 2050, climate change will kill an additional quarter of million people a year through the spread of infectious diseases, such as malaria and dengue fever. Increasing interactions between animals and humans as we venture into the last truly wild spaces on Earth will facilitate the spread of new strings of diseases, such as COVID-19 and Ebola, and an increasing risk of flooding in a changing climate will likely bring more outbreaks of waterborne diseases like cholera and typhoid.

COVID-19 is a crisis of our own making and, with climate change and resource extraction advancing, there is more to come in the future.

Solomon Islands, Logging
Unregulated logging in Melanesia causes loss of habitat and potentially species, flooding and human rights issues

The good news is: there is hope. The response to the pandemic has shown that people all across the globe have been willing to significantly alter their lives and work in partnership in order to tackle the COVID-19 crisis. Every one of us has an enormous capacity to adapt to new circumstances.

“The environment is God’s gift to everyone. And we have a responsibility towards each other to protect it. We cannot think of ourselves as isolated from others or from creation.”, is the official view of the Church of England on stewardship for the environment.

By taking little steps, all of us can help to create a more sustainable and more equitable world, which our friends in Melanesia and our future generations in this country can strive for.

Here are 8 actions that we can take:

  1. Adjust your diet: Eat smaller or fewer portions of meat, particularly red meat, which has the largest environmental impact, and reduce dairy products or use non-dairy alternatives instead. Try to choose fresh, seasonal produce that is grown locally to help reduce the carbon emissions from transportation, preservation and prolonged refrigeration.
  2. Consume and waste less: Avoid food waste. Try to repair and reuse items and don’t buy more than you need. Consider second-hand options or high quality items, which will last a long time. Give unwanted items a new life by donating them to charity, selling them on or giving them away for free in your neighbourhood. Put your purchasing power to good use by choosing ethical brands.
  3.  Leave the car at home: Walk or cycle as much as possible – and enjoy the exercise and the money saved. For longer journeys, use public transport, or try car sharing schemes. If driving is unavoidable, investigate switching your diesel or petrol car for an electric or hybrid model. 
  4. Cut back on flying:  Choose nearby holiday destinations and take public transport where you can or use car sharing schemes. If you need to fly for work, consider using video conferencing instead. When flying is unavoidable, pay a little extra for carbon offsetting and fly economy – on average, a business class passenger has a carbon footprint which is three times higher than someone’s in economy.
  5. Save energy: Turn off lights and appliances when you don’t need them. Replace light bulbs with LEDs or other low-energy lights. Make simple changes to how you use hot water, like buying a water-efficient shower head. Consider switching energy supply to a green tariff, which is a great way to invest in renewable energy sources – and could save money on bills.
  6. Respect and protect green spaces: If you have your own outdoor space, don’t replace the grass with paving or artificial turf. Plant trees and create your own green space. The Woodland Trust has tools and resources to support you. Help to protect and conserve green spaces like local parks, ponds or community gardens. Organisations like Fields In Trust and the National Federation of Parks and Green Spaces have advice and resources on how you can get involved in areas local to you. 
  7. Invest your money responsibly: Find out where your money goes. Voice your concerns about ethical investment by writing or talking to your bank or pension provider, and ask if you can opt out of funds investing in fossil fuels. You can also investigate ‘ethical banking’.
  8. Make your voice heard by those in power: Tell your Member of Parliament, local councillors and city mayors that you think action on climate change is important. You can also get your local church involved in engaging with your MP about climate change. Hope for the Future can help you with training and resources.

Marie Schlenker

Walande, School Children

Fifth mark of mission – to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth

New Bishop - Diocese of Hanuato’o

New Bishop of Hanuato’o

Over 2,000 people witnessed the consecrated and installment of the Reverend Arthur Stanley Abui as the fourth Bishop of the Diocese of Hanuato’o (DoH), at Saint Peters Cathedral, Kirakira on Sunday 21st March.

The Most Reverend Leonard Dawea, Archbishop of ACoM officiated the ceremony, assisted by the Senior Bishop and Bishop of the Diocese of Malaita the Rt Rev Sam Sahu, the Assistant Bishop of Malaita the Rt Rev Rickson Maomaoru, Bishop of the Diocese of Ysabel the Rt Rev Ellison Quity, Bishop of the Diocese of Temotu the Rt Rev. Willie Tungale, Bishop of the Diocese of Guadalcanal the Rt Rev Benedict Loe and Retired Bishop the Rt Rev Alfred Karibongi.

Immediately after he was consecrated, the Vicar General of the DoH Rev. Clayton Maha installed the Rt Rev Arthur Abui in the episcopal chair of the Diocesan Cathedral, as a sign of his role and responsibility as chief shepherd of the diocese.

  • New Bishop - Diocese of Hanuato’o
  • New Bishop - Diocese of Hanuato’o

“I have no great intention to come on board with new ideas and developments. I would rather continue on with the vision and mission statement of the diocese passed by the 10th diocesan synod in December 2020,” the newly consecrated Bishop said in his inaugural address in the church.

“Our vision statement puts an emphasis on to hear, live and joyfully proclaim the gospel of Christ to our people. Our mission statement focuses on our baptismal ministries to build up the body of Christ, which is the church. This is trying to achieve our vision statement. Importantly to recognise and serve those who are in need in our society”, he added.

Taken from the Diocesan Vision and Mission statements, the Rt Rev. Arthur Abui said his theme for this year 2021 is “HANUA TO HANUA FOR CHRIST”, meaning the gospel of Christ should begin at home.

“The theme should germinate at home, grow at home, matured at home before it goes out to other people, communities and society. Acts of the Apostle 1.8 states, be my witnesses beginning in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the end of the World.” Bishop Abui added.

“I am confident the diocese will continue to progress through your capable leadership with the support of your clergies.” The Most Rev. Leonard Dawea told Bishop Abui in his speech during the feasting.

“There is no school for the bishopric; but by working with and listening to the people; you will learn most how to be a bishop”, the Archbishop added.

The Archbishop calls on the Diocese to support the Bishop and on all members of the church to continue to pray for the Rt Rev Arthur Stanley Abui and his family as he begins this very important role in the Diocese of Hanuato’o and in the Anglican Church of Melanesia.

New Bishop - Diocese of Hanuato’o

ACoM Communications

Society of St Francis, Logging and the UN conference

Logging In Melanesia – A Call To Action

In March over 30 supporters gathered online to hear about the Society of Francis’ mission in the Solomon Islands to highlight the wider implications and impacts of illegal, unregulated and unsustainable logging. Joining us the day after their address to the United Nations, Brs Worrick and Lent in Honiara and Minister General Christopher John in Australia, shared with us their concerns for the forests and people of Melanesia –

The forests of the Solomon Islands have sustained life in all its forms over countless generations. But now trees are being felled, dragged down from the mountain areas, and exported as unprocessed round logs. The logging companies, mostly Malaysian, often bribe politicians and local representatives to obtain logging licenses. Customary landowners receive some payment for their logs, but after the logging company has left there is nothing but bare earth. The work of the loggers is not monitored by government and often the terms of the logging licence are not respected. The effects are widespread.

Watch the Brothers’ UN address;

And find out more about the Brothers’ mission; Logging & the Abuse of Human Rights.

The Brothers have asked us to pray for their work and the three main recommendations they want the Solomon Islands Government to address:

  1. Protect human rights against abuses by logging companies; ensure effective remedies for victims; and bring the perpetrators to justice. 
  2. Ensure that the right to free, prior and informed consent be fully respected and implemented through all stages of the logging process, in accordance with international human rights standards.
  3. Adopt a coherent and comprehensive mitigation and adaptation climate policy and actions based on human rights norms and principles.

Following the Brothers’ talk there was presentation on what our response might be towards climate and environmental justice, including shopping ethically – checking for sustainable forestry certification, engaging with our own politicians, government in the run up to COP26, becoming an eco-church and attending one of the Franciscan’s climate events at Hilfield or online.

Society of St Francis, Logging and the UN conference, call to action

If you would like to support the Brothers’ mission, or to watch the Call to Action conference recording, please contact MMUK.

Solomon Islands, Logging
Solomon Islands, Logging

Logging & the Abuse of Human Rights

Brothers from the Society of St Francis in the Solomon Islands are making a stand against illegal, unregistered and unsustainable logging in their country, via petitions to the United Nations. SSF Minister General Br Christopher John, writes about this important mission.

Solomon Islands, Logging

The forests of the Solomon Islands have sustained life in all its forms over countless generations. But now trees are being felled, dragged down from the mountain areas, and exported as unprocessed round logs. The logging companies, mostly Malaysian, often bribe politicians and local representatives to obtain logging licenses. Customary landowners receive some payment for their logs, but after the logging company has left there is nothing but bare earth. The work of the loggers is not monitored by government and often the terms of the logging licence are not respected. The effects are widespread. Destruction of environment, pollution of waterways, flash flooding which sweeps debris downstream where it blocks culverts and bridges, causing them to be washed away, and muddy water which pollutes fishing areas and damages the reefs which have a vital role in absorbing the energy of incoming waves.  The damage is also social, cultural and spiritual. There are recorded incidents of prostitution associated with loggers, including trafficking in underage females. An excess of cash can also lead to increased alcohol consumption and gender-based violence. Such logging destroys the traditional reliance on forests to provide shelter for food crops, a place to hunt wild animals, a source of timber, vines and leaves for building houses and canoes, as well as the environment for plants used for medicinal purposes. 

The Society of St Francis is one of the four Anglican religious communities in Solomon Islands. Our Brothers there know well the destructive effects of logging. They see it in the villages and when they are travelling out on mission. On our own we are too small to do much, but through our membership of Franciscans International (the voice of Franciscans at the United Nations) we are taking part in the Universal Periodic Review of Human Rights being held in Geneva and online. Solomon Islands is one of the nations whose recognition of human rights is being examined at the UN Human Rights Council. On March 25 at the “Pre-Sessions” Br Lent gave the following address;

STATEMENT FOR UPR PRE-SESSION SOLOMON ISLANDS

Thank you to UPR Info for providing me the opportunity to speak. My name is Lent Fugui, a Franciscan Anglican brother from Solomon Islands.

I present this statement on behalf of a coalition of Franciscans and Dominican NGOs.

In the previous UPR cycle, several states made statements and recommendations on the issue of natural resources exploitation as well as climate change. 

Our focus for this presentation is the impact of logging activities in Solomon Islands on human rights.

In the activities of natural resources exploitation in my country, in particular logging activities in the customary land, there is a lack of participation and consent of local communities affected by logging plans and operations. In some cases, the environmental and human rights issue we raised during Timber Rights Hearings in the process are not taken into consideration by the Provincial Government.

In Laovavasa, Guadalcanal Island, we observed that logging activities have left behind great devastation. When the loggers harvest largest trees, they end-up destroying other small trees. The consequences of the destruction of forest and land are considered very severe by the community, as soils are now eroding; water sources dry up; rainfall is not dispersed efficiently, flash floods happen more regularly, as well as more droughts and landslides.

The diversion of the economy towards logging has impacted the traditional ways of life. In my country, fishery is a key source of livelihood. However, fish resources have declined because of sedimentation of rivers and reefs. This is a result of runoff from upstream cutting areas, and log-pond and wharf construction.

In February-March 2020, major floods in the Guadalcanal Province impacted our school, the Selwyn College of the Church of Melanesia, located in a coastal area surrounded by forest. The flood affected access to safe drinking water, sanitary facilities, food gardens of the school, as well as the rural health centre next to the school. As the septic tanks were flooded, there were serious concerns regarding the health impacts. Floods are believed to be exacerbated by logging activities in the upstream area around the school compound.

There have been several allegations of sexual violence related to the presence of logging companies and their foreign workers.  A report on the gendered effects of corporate logging in Malaita Islands found that women in the region experienced sexual exploitation.

Women are also disproportionately affected by logging and mining activities, in particular in the cases where women have a limited role in negotiations on land. Women have often been neglected in decision-making process.

In 2018, five environmental activists, known as Nende Five, were imprisoned for opposing the logging activities in the primary forest on Nende in Santo-Cruz Island in Temotu Province. While three of the activists were acquitted, one activist, is facing life imprisonment for arson and another was convicted of larceny and unlawful damage; their lawyer stated that their confessions were given under duress.

We are very much concerned on the impact of logging activities on climate change. Despite its commitment to mitigate climate change, the Government of Solomon Islands has not submitted its revised Nationally Determined Contribution. The forest in Solomon Islands has been contributing to the world’s carbon sink. However, if the deforestation continues, the impact of logging activities will be very significant for the environment, not only for Solomon Islands but also the global efforts to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

We would like to propose the following recommendations to the Government of Solomon Islands.

The government should protect human rights against abuses and environmental degradation by logging companies and ensure effective remedies when abuses occured. It should also take appropriate legislative and administrative measures to ensure that the use and exploitation of natural resources do not adversely affect the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights as well as to ensure that, through all stages of the logging process, the rights to participation and information of affected communities are fully respected, in accordance with international standards.

The government should undertake awareness-raising programs on the environmental, social and human rights impacts of logging and on the rights and protections people shall enjoy, including programs targeting women and youths and take appropriate legislative and administrative measures to ensure that the use of exploitation of natural resources do not infringe the rights of local communities to dispose freely of their lands, territory, and natural resources, in accordance with international standards.

It is important to guarantee the effective protection of people at risk because they defend their rights or the rights of communities, the land or the environment in the context of logging projects. The government should ensure that all violations committed against defenders are thoroughly and impartially investigated and that victims are provided with effective remedies.

The government should ensure effective protection against violence against women and children, including sexual abuse and exploitation and domestic violence, with a focus on communities affected by logging activities.

Finally, the government should ensure access to sufficient safe drinking water and adequate sanitation for the entire population, including those who are affected by, or even active in, logging activities, as well as to adopt a coherent and comprehensive mitigation and adaptation climate policy and actions based on human rights norms and principles.

Thank you. Br Lent

Solomon Islands, Logging

Highlighting this concern at the UN is just the beginning of what is planned to be a campaign calling on different organisations to work in different ways according to their capacity. At an international level, tracking where the finished timber products are sold; regionally, finding allies and sources of information in small nations which have successfully stood up to the pressure of logging interests; nationally and provincially within the Solomons, finding effective ways of lobbying politicians and helping them find solutions to the problems of logging; and at village level, the members of religious orders and others working to educate people and give them strategies to resist the pressure of logging interests.

SSF Minister General Br Christopher John

Becky Jacobs at Patteson's Cross

Remembering Patteson – Becky Jacobs

Bishop John Coleridge Patteson attended the King’s School in Ottery St Mary, near his family’s home, before going away to boarding school at Eton. In memory of Patteson, today one of the school’s four houses is named after him. Here Head of Patteson House, Mrs Becky Jacobs, explains why Patteson still inspires her and the King’s pupils today.

Becky Jacobs at Patteson's Cross
Becky Jacobs with students from Patteson House at the rededication of Patteson’s Cross in 2017, attended by the Rt Revd Ellison Quity and the Most Revd Leonard Dawea

I became Head of Patteson House at the King’s School, Ottery St Mary in January 2010. I was instantly intrigued by the man who was our figurehead and as an historian wanted to know all about him. I have tried to read as much as possible about him and use this information to try to translate to my students some of Patteson’s values and aspirations. I love the fact that education was at the heart of Patteson’s life and he sought not only to educate others but at a time when it was very much a privilege.  I am delighted too that he tried to include women as well as men in his quest. This was forward thinking for the 19th century.

I am fascinated with Patteson’s journey to the other side of the world and the remoteness he must have felt. I wonder if he missed East Devon. I have never been to the Solomon Islands, maybe one day I will go there. I have an image of this tall, bearded man wading ashore at Nakapu with gifts and then being tragically struck down. I am immensely proud that Patteson was an anti-slavery pioneer. Other houses at the King’s school cannot necessarily testify to the great character of their figureheads but we can…like the suffragettes Patteson’s colour (green) suggests growth and development. Again and again, education and personal belief is all important. I am proud to be able to talk about Patteson in assembly and show he is so incredibly relevant today. I can use him as a role model for students, someone who expressed a need to learn continually and someone willing to take risk, to travel and to learn about other cultures.

I have pinned my colours firmly to the mast as Head of Patteson at the King’s school. I ALWAYS wear something green every day, have some wonderful banners and I talk about Patteson’s memory often.  I was really proud that my students raised over £100, four years ago to help towards cleaning up the memorial at Patteson’s Cross. I also remember several years ago abseiling down Feniton Church tower to raise money for causes in the Solomon Islands, a great experience!

Becky Jacobs with ACoM staff
Becky Jacobs with ACoM’s General Secretary Dr Abraham Hauriasi and Mission Secretary Fr Nigel Kelaepa on a visit to the King’s School

I hope later in the year to inspire students to find a 21st century equivalent to Patteson, to partner his ideas and aspiration in the modern age. Having said that, Patteson belongs as much in the 21st century as he did in the 19th. I could not be prouder than to have this person as our House figurehead at The King’s School.

Becky Jacobs
Head of Patteson House and Teacher of History and Politics
The King’s School, Ottery St Mary, Devon

The King’s School is formally linked with the Bishop Norman Palmer School in the Solomon Islands. There have been teacher exchanges and visits, and pupils have exchanged letters and worked on joint environmental projects.

Bishop of Guadalcanal. The Rt Rev. Benedict Loe

Consecration and Installation of Revd Benedict Loe into the Office of Bishop

The Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Melanesia the Most Revd Leonard Dawea officiated at the Consecration and Installation service of the new Bishop of Guadalcanal, assisted by the Bishop of the Diocese of Central Solomons, the Rt. Rev Ben Seka and Bishop of the Diocese of Ysabel, the Rt Rev Ellison Quity and other retired Bishops.

Bishop of Guadalcanal. The Rt Rev. Benedict Loe
Bishop of Guadalcanal. The Rt Rev. Benedict Loe

Archbishop Christopher Cardone of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Honiara was the preacher at this historical ceremony.

Amongst many other points mentioned in his first address as the new Bishop of Guadalcanal; The Rt Rev. Benedict Loe highlighted the need for his clergy and lay people to come together and refloat or restrengthen the work of the ninth ship (diocese) within ACoM.

Around five thousand church goers both from the Diocese of Guadalcanal, Diocese of Central Melanesia and sister churches came to witness the ceremony despite heavy down pour a day before. Close to one hundred traditional gifts of foods (chupu) were prepared in this historical event.

  • Most Revd Leonard Dawea & The Rt Rev. Benedict Loe
  • Installation of Revd Benedict Loe into the Office of Bishop
  • Welcome ceremony
  • Most Revd Leonard Dawea & The Rt Rev. Benedict Loe
  • His Excellency the Governor General Sir David Vunagi & Lady Mary
  • Clergy & Members of the Religious Orders

Photos from the Consecration and Installation of the Right Reverend Benedict Loe as the second Bishop of the Diocese of Guadalcanal at Good Shephard Cathedral, Foxwood, East Guadalcanal, Sunday 28th February 2021.

Previously; New Bishop of Guadalcanal.

ACoM Communications

Religious Life Sunday in The Solomon Islands

Religious Communities – February 2021 Update

The Society of St Francis

Religious Life Sunday in The Solomon Islands
Religious Life Sunday in The Solomon Islands

On Sunday 14th February, Religious Life Sunday, was celebrated by the Anglican religious orders in the Solomon Islands at the Society of St Francis (SFF) Friary, La Verna. Brother Francis has sent us a report, along with a report from SSF’s Christmas mission.

SSF – Religious Life Sunday
SSF – Christmas Mission December 2020


The Sisters of the Community of the Church

Revd Sr Veronica sends news from the Sisters – Greetings from the Sisters of the Church in the Solomons Islands.  As we begin another year, may we be reminded of God’s leading and direction this year in 2021.

CSC – February 2021 Update

Patteson’s Cross, Nukapu

Remembering Patteson – Revd Sr Veronica CSC

Patteson’s Cross, Nukapu
Patteson’s Cross, Nukapu

‘Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it”.’ Mark 8: 34 – 36. This is the gospel reading chosen for Bishop John Coleridge Patteson’s Feast Day.

I firmly believe that these words of Jesus are ingrained and embedded in the life and ministry of Bishop Patteson. They show how he lived out his life for the sake of the people of Melanesia, and I am counted as one of those. In his diary, quoted by Margaret Cropper in Flame Touches Flame, are the words, ‘I feel the sense of responsibility deepening on me. I must go out to work without Selwyn, and very anxious I am sometimes, and almost oppressed by it. But strength will come and it is not one’s work, which is a comfort; and if I fail – which is very likely – God will place some other man in my position, and the work will go on, whether in my hands or not, and that is the real point’.

Revd Sr Veronica CSC, Alfington, Devon
Revd Sr Veronica CSC, presiding at St James & St Anne Alfington, Devon, where Bishop Patteson served his curacy before travelling to Melanesia

Having visited Bishop Patteson’s home and the church where he did his curacy, I was overcome by the fact of the Bishop leaving his comfortable dwelling to live as a homeless stranger in these islands. Spreading the Gospel was more vital to him than living in a comfortable home. Where would we be if Bishop Patteson had not made the sacrifice? Would we be still living in darkness without Christ? We owe a lot to the bishop for denying himself and taking risks for our sake. We are the very fruit of his sacrificial life and the shedding of his blood. This role model of Bishop Patteson challenges us Melanesians. Are we prepared to deny ourselves and to take up our cross for the sake of the gospel? Is the Gospel at the very heart of our lives and our ministry? If it is at the heart of our lives and our ministry, then we too will experience the joy of spreading the good news to our neighbours and living it out in our lives, families and parishes. God’s word is alive and active and we must feed on it daily. It is powerful in that it transforms and shapes our lives as believers in God.

Revd Sr Veronica CSC, Patteson’s Cross, East Devon
Revd Sr Veronica CSC, Patteson’s Cross, East DevonRevd Sr Veronica at Patteson’s Cross, East Devon

An item in this week’s news was shocking. A man was accused of sorcery and his feet and hands were bound together and were chopped off. It happened on one of the islands near where Bishop Patteson’s life was laid down. This shows that there is still much to do here in Melanesia in ministry among our people and we need to work very hard.

Our Community is working with women and children who are the victims of domestic violence. It is very sad that we call ourselves a Christian country, but domestic violence is very high in our towns, villages and homes. Although terrible things may happen in our country, we must overcome evil with good, as the Bishop left us the model. As Christians, we need to revisit our mission among our people in our islands. We must deny ourselves for the sake of the gospel. ‘Patteson’s murder was brutal, but it proved to be the seed of the Melanesian Church which grew and continues to grow from strength to strength’. Bishop Patteson brought the Good News to us. May nothing overwhelm the light of Christ within us.

Revd Sr Veronica CSC

Sister Frances Murphy, Sisters of the Church

Eulogy – Sister Frances Murphy CSC

Sister Frances Murphy, Sisters of the Church

Sr Helen CSC, writes the Eulogy for Sr Frances, who died in January. Sr Frances was the Sister-in-Charge of the first house of the Community of the Sisters of the Church in the Solomon Islands in 1970.

I met Frances Murphy, when we were both members of the choir at Christ Church St Laurence, Sydney around 1959. It was not long after our meeting that Frances entered the novitiate at Perth College, Perth on May 30, 1960. Perth College was a boarding and day school for girls run by the Sisters, as well as the Australian training place for women wishing to test their vocation to be a Sister in the Community of the Sisters of the Church.

After some months as a postulant, Frances was clothed as a novice on December 15, 1960, taking the name of Valerie because there had already been a Frances in the Community. Some years later she was allowed to return to her name ‘Frances’. I joined the same novitiate at Perth College in January 1961.

In August 1962 Frances travelled to the novitiate of the Community in England. To go to England to be professed was the usual procedure for novices in Australia at that time. I travelled to England in January 1964, in time to be present at Frances’ profession on February 8, 1964. This was when she made her life vows, received her black veil (replacing the white veil of a novice), silver cross and gold ring. She also moved to the Junior Sisters’ room in the large Convent and had different activities – no more ringing the rising bell early in the morning to wake everyone up! For Frances!

I was professed in April 1964, so briefly we were together again, as Junior Sisters. One of the worst moments of that time was accompanying Frances while she was learning to drive. It was definitely frightening. One of the most enjoyable was when we were both sent to Walsingham to represent our Community at a celebration of the Sisters of the Priory of Our Lady of Walsingham. Our ability to sing proved valuable as we were asked to assist the Sisters’ choir at the Eucharist, because some Sisters had difficulty singing the right notes.

Frances left England in 1965 for Hobart, where she was the housekeeper and did some teaching in the school. In August 1966, Frances, Faith, Gillian and I began a new house at 36 Hereford St. Glebe. We were following the ideals of Charles de Foucauld and the life of the Little Brothers and Sisters of Jesus of the Roman Catholic Church in Algeria and France. The ministry was to live and work alongside others, often doing manual work, and by sharing friendship. Frances worked for a while as an untrained nursing-aide at the small local hospital making beds etc., and did some housework for neighbours.

In 1969 Frances went to England for her Solemn Profession when she ratified her life vows and the Community accepted her for life. On the way she visited the Solomon Islands. This stop over was significant as our Community had been invited to start a new house in the Solomons, along with a men’s community, the Society of Saint Francis.

A decision was soon made by the Community to open a house in the Solomons. Frances was appointed Sister-in-Charge of the house and Sisters Beryl and Helen Jane were chosen to be with her. They all had a term together at the missionary College of the Ascension, Selly Oak, Birmingham, England that gave them some guidance on how to live in a country with a different culture, before they flew to Australia and caught a cargo ship to Honiara in December 1970.

In the Solomons the Sisters began Bible studies and Sunday Schools, and visited people in the hospital, prison, and their homes. Frances travelled to various islands in the Solomons telling people about the Sisters and what it would mean for those who wished to join the Community. In 1973 a suitable place was found in a coconut plantation about 14 km. from Honiara where buildings planned by Frances such as dormitory, dining room and chapel, were erected from bush material with corrugated iron roofing to house the women who wished to become Sisters in our Community. Frances was in charge of this place which was called Tetete ni Kolivuti, ‘Hill of Prayer’ in the local language.

An animal population also appeared under Frances’ direction, consisting of guard dogs (sort of), cats to catch the local rats, goats to provide milk, fowls to produce eggs and meat, and later a pig or two. To feed those coming to stay, vegetable gardens were begun as well as flower gardens to make the buildings look attractive. Frances managed to be the driving force behind the establishment of this house even while coping with health problems such as leg ulcers, boils and various bouts of colds and flu.

Sister Frances Murphy, Sisters of the Church

In 1977 Frances was elected the Mother Superior of our Community and moved to England to take up the role. She was blessed as Mother Superior on this day, 2nd February, in 1978. At the time Frances wrote, “I won’t be too sorry to leave (the Solomons), as I feel my work is done here – at least the spade-work has been done.” While Mother Superior, Frances travelled around visiting the Sisters where they were living in England, Canada, Australia and the Solomon Islands, and represented the Community at meetings with the heads of other Religious Communities in England. Frances brought new ideas and ministry to birth during her 10 years in this role, before returning to Australia in 1988.

On Frances’ journey back to Australia, she spent 6 weeks in Israel, and attended a course at St George’s College, Jerusalem. On arriving in Sydney she became part of the household at 96 Hereford St Glebe, where the Sisters from 36 Hereford St moved in 1986 as it had more room for guests. From 1990-1996 Frances was Sister-in-Charge at Glebe and the Australia-Pacific Provincial.

A quieter time for Frances followed when she spent short periods at a cottage in the Blue Mountains and let it out to clergy and church workers in need of a rest. The Glebe house was closed in 2001 and Frances moved to an apartment on Parramatta Road, Camperdown. She was involved in the life of several churches, chiefly St Stephens, Newtown where she was a parish reader. In 2014, because of failing health, Frances moved to The Sister Anne Court in Surry Hills. Her health continued to deteriorate until her death on January 26, 2021.

And I add words taken from The Rule of the Community (adapted). Frances has travelled through all the changing circumstances of her life, and now in her death is made fully one with God at last. Amen.

Sister Helen CSC

Community of the Sisters of Melanesia

Community of the Sisters of the Church – February 2021 Update

In early February UK Associates and supporters held their first joint online service with the Community of the Sisters of Melanesia.

A report from the CSM Administrator, Flory;

Welcome Associates.

First and foremost, thank God for bringing us together as Associates and supporters in mission and team work, serving our God through the work of the Church and the work of the Sisters of Melanesia.

I would like to thank The ACoM General Secretary – Dr. Abraham Hauriasi, the IT person in Charge, Mr. Julian and the Communication Officer Mr. Aldrin for providing access to the Conference Room to make this call. For without them, this event would not be possible.

Associates, we are honored to have the pleasure to join you to talk about the Chapel Development and other news from CSM.

The Chapel Development

The Chapel has been planned since 2018 through a committee of five Sisters, four Lay people and the CSM Chaplain, who meet monthly.

For the first two years, the committee focused on fundraising drives, through envelope giving, ACoM Grants, and oversee donations from the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Fund, MMUK, UK Associates, Anglican Aid Australia and other individuals, totaling SD$773,543.02 – around £70,000.00.

With regards to the major construction, we are still waiting upon the detail list of material break downs for the Chapel. The architects have informed the Chapel Committee, that the Chapel will need a steel frame. That will cost more money, but due to the site location on the hill, it needs to be well constructed. We estimate another SD$200,000 to complete the project (£18,000).

So far, we have completed the demolition stage and by March, when we hope the rains will lesson, the major construction work on the building will begin. We assume that almost 50% – 60% of the chapel will be completed this year.

Thank you once again for all your support for this project.

We estimate another SD$200,000 to complete the project (£18,000)

COMMUNITY OF THE SISTERS OF MELANESIA

New Chapel Appeal for The Community of the Sisters of Melanesia

Other News

3rd Year Novices in two groups undertook their field work practical in the Diocese of Ysabel, in Russell Islands and in Bugotu Districts in Ysabel.

Kia Associates in Ysabel Diocese are currently planning a new CSM Household in Kia. The proposed Household has been discussed and endorsed during the past CSM General Conferences. I am pleased to be part of this Household Development Committee.   

Due to demand for the mission of the CSM, The Head Sister has been requested by the Bishop of the Southern Region in Malaita to be part of his annual Episcopal tour to visit another proposed site for another Household. Continue to pray for this event.

Training

One of the main and important needs of the Community is for additional training The CSM is thankful for the invitation initiated by the Melanesian brotherhood to train three CSM reps to further their knowledge and skills on tutoring and Literacy Skills for the training of Novices. The Novices in training will start their first term classes on 9th February, with a retreat to be held on Monday 8th February.   The aim of the Literacy training Program is to help the Novices to be able to read, write, and further their knowledge with other Biblical & theological courses in equipping them for their future Mission of the Church.

The Associate Handbook, The Sisterhood Office book and the Constitution of the CSM is currently under review. Please continue to pray for the review committees.      

Once again Associates and supporters, thank you for your time and patience. May God continue to bless us in our works and mission in supporting the work of the CSM and the Church, in building up the Kingdom of God here on earth.

Tagio Tumas

Flory, Community of the Sisters of Melanesia