Many years ago our forbearers decided that our church should be dedicated to St Francis in order to express something of the life of Christ modelled by Francis of Assisi. Francis was born in 1182 the son of a rich cloth merchant. His father had ambitions that Francis would become an accountant to help the family business. However, much of Francis’ youth was spent in riotous living and he was known as the king of banquets because of his feasting, dancing and associated lifestyle.

In early manhood he dreamt of military glory but during one night he heard the voice of God and returned to Assisi. Much to the disapproval of his father, Francis sensed an irrepressible need to give away all his possession to the poor. His strange behaviour astonished the inhabitants of Assisi as he increasingly spent time meditating by himself. He heard another voice from God saying “Go and repair my house which has fallen into ruin.” These words remained with him for the rest of his life. The real meaning was not limited to the falling walls of the little church but to living in the community, preaching and caring for nature.

His father sought ‘to recover’ his son and Francis was brought before a Bishop. Having to choose between renunciation of worldly goods and a return to his previous way of life, Francis chose renunciation. This was the only way he saw of taking a decisive step towards conversion and living wholly for Christ.

There were many inspired by Francis’ new lifestyle. In 1209 the religious order of Friars Minor was born – now known as the Franciscans. Clare of Assisi was also inspired by the life of Francis; she renounced all worldly goods and founded the Order of the Poor Ladies.

With our church dedicated to St Francis there is much for us to ponder on in the way in which we seek to honour our patron in love, generosity and ecological care towards our community. Francis faithfully and boldly preached the gospel of Christ to all who would listen, cared for the poor and pioneered green theology!

“Preach the gospel at all times -- If necessary, use words."