Seeing St Francis for the First time- Laurel Shiriyapenga

Six months ago, I joined the St Francis family as the new Parish Administrator. I remember telling myself that I was here purely for work and this won’t be my real spiritual home. Little did I know that God had other plans for me.

In this short while at St Francis, I have seen and heard a lot of different and new things, some puzzling and others just amusing. The office offers me an opportunity to be a small part in arranging functions that happen here, these range from funerals, music events, baptisms or even weddings. I have grieved and celebrated with this new family and I have few memories I will treasure for a lifetime. My favourite memory of them all has to be the Collambarium. I was going about my daily duties and I happened to follow Michael, our Caretaker, to put flowers in the Collambarium. I’m sure few Franciscans would know about this beloved room situated under the altar. Just as I stepped in, he said to me “Do you know that this room has dead people?” What a complete culture shock it was! From where I come from (Zimbabwe) Cremation is not a practice we follow, let alone having a special place for the ashes. Occasionally families visit the collambarium to visit their loved ones and it has since become a favourite place of mine, with so much meaning.
St Francis has a healthy mix of groups that do ministries, I have grown to love most of these. The friendships and community that is built is phenomenal. From social groups, like the knitting group, to environmental activists, like the Eco group, courses that change your life like the Advent course, Meditations and the Lent course upon us. St Francis is indeed a place to call home, an environment to listen and see with new eyes.

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