Jo Drew

The very word ‘Companion’, to me, evokes acceptance, friendship and accompaniment. It is a term of warm embrace. Someone who helps, shares and encourages others.

Jo Drew TSSF

Why am I a Companion of St Francis?

Companions of St Francis are those who, in the course of their Christian journey, have met or heard of the Sisters and Brothers, and have a desire to accompany them in the way of Christian commitment.  While they do not wish, or are not in a position to live a life in community, Companions wish to support those who have been called to this way of life.

I have been a visitor to Alnmouth friary in Northumberland for over 17 years, off and on. And on reflection it has been a ‘thin place’ that has accompanied, sustained and provided a healing place on my Christian pilgrimage journey. However, it hasn’t just been the worship, building or environment that has led to my deeper Franciscan relationship but the very many people that I have had the privilege to encounter who have freely offered their spiritual support, their wisdom and memorable conversations as ‘companions along the Way.’

The very word ‘Companion’, to me, evokes acceptance, friendship and accompaniment. It is a term of warm embrace. Someone who helps, shares and encourages others. Companionship is a reciprocal action of relationship that embodies compassion and love. St Clare referred to herself as a ‘helper’. I like the simplicity of that statement.

And this is what, I believe, attracted me to become a Companion of St. Francis. It is walking alongside others on their faith journey. And they on mine. I often think of the Road to Emmaus. Two people walking along a dusty track encountering Jesus. As a listening presence. As a concerned and attentive soul. Eager to reassure, and ensure, that He becomes known to them.

My Commitment as a Companion

After I was accepted as a Companion, I committed myself in several ways. I try to support my local Society of Saint Francis community – in prayer and Franciscan reflection; with my time as a fairly regular Guest Worker usually in the scullery or garden; through the provision of alms and subscription to The Franciscan magazine; and in generally being – hopefully – a companion to those I meet – whether on the street, at a place of worship, in the wider community – by referring to Jesus and the Gospel, St Francis and St Clare life’s teachings – and by offering hospitality at home. This is also integral to my calling to chaplaincy to the marginalised, community and in my offering as a Spiritual Accompanier through my training through the International Franciscan Studies Centre.

So, the privilege of reciprocal companionship and accompaniment is one that provides me with so much joy and sometimes much sorrow since life, in all its fullness, has so many ebbs and flows embracing brokenness, healing, reconciliation and transformation too. It is also a great happiness to meet with other people who embrace the Franciscan life and to travel along the road with them in often the most surprising, unexpected and illuminating ways! It would also be a joy to encounter or contact other Companions of St Francis but I am fully aware that distance and circumstances only separate us physically but not spiritually.

St Francis said – What you are before God, that you are and no more. I just pray, with an open heart, that the Lord will use me as He will in my desire to serve Him as a Companion of St Francis.

Alnmouth Friary

The Society of St Francis
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