Contact

Considering visiting?

Great! Please contact us on mailbag@franciscanhermitage.org before you visit.
Postal Details
Franciscan Hermitage
“Eremophila”
PO Box 162
TABULAM NSW 2469
Location Details Franciscan Hermitage
“Eremophila”
Bruxner Road
TABULAM NSW 2469

Important note!

The Brothers’ telephone connection is located on a pole in the bush about 1 kilometre from the community centre.

One of the Brothers visits the “bush phone” about twice a week to download e-mail.

We appreciate your patience. Messages downloaded in one session are replied to at the next session. So contact could take up to a week!

How to find us

Eremophila is located in the foothills of the Great Dividing Range about 15 kilometres from Tabulam, northern New South Wales. It is situated within the Diocese of Grafton.

It is accessible by road or rail (with a road journey from Casino). It is not possible to drive right into Eremophila without a 4-wheel-drive vehicle so make sure the Brothers are expecting you!

Road
If you are travelling from Brisbane, take the Beaudesert Road to Rathdowney and then proceed through Woodenbong, Urbenville and Bonalbo to the Bruxner Highway. Turn right at the highway and travel through Tabulam.

If you are travelling from Sydney, drive north to Casino and then take the Bruxner Highway to Tabulam. Approximately 11 kilometres west of Tabulam, turn right into Bruxner Road. Eremophila is on the left about 4 kilometres along this road.

Rail
Take the train to Casino. If previously arranged, the Brothers will collect you from the station.

Friends of the Little Brothers of Francis

Friends are those who value and support the witness of the contemplative orders within the Church, and the Little Brothers of Francis in particular.

They do this by developing their own prayer life and by supporting the Brothers in the following ways, as circumstances allow:

  • with prayerful support of the Brothers at Eremophila, Tabulam, and at any other foundations that the Brothers may make.
  • joining them in the Liturgy of the Hours, using the LBF Offices where possible.

They actively promote awareness of the Little Brothers of Francis.

They witness to the charism and spirituality of the Brothers and accept the Sources of Inspiration of the Little Brothers of Francis as underlying the ethos of the Brothers, and will endeavour to uphold them.

They support the Brothers with financial and practical help and may undertake works, activities and fund-raising ventures to provide facilities and resources for the Brothers.

Friends promote and encourage vocations to the Religious Life of the Church and use the Prayer for the Religious Life on Fridays, in union with the Brothers.

Friends may make opportunities in worship and prayer, and learning together.

For further information about Friends, contact:

Bp Graeme Rutherford
President
Friends of the Little Brothers of Francis
3/68 Campbell Road
HAWTHORN EAST VIC 3123
Australia

or download an Application Form to become a Friend of the Little Brothers of Francis.

Purchase of Community Wares

Becoming a Friend of the Little Brothers of Francis

Friends' Information

The Christchurch Community of the New Zealand Friends of the Little Brothers of Francis

This group meets at the Anglican Church of Christchurch St Luke’s, corner of Manchester and Kilmore Streets, Christchurch. For further information contact:

Ian Lothian
President
Friends of Little Brothers of Francis (NZ)
21 Joyce Crescent
Christchurch, New Zealand

Telephone: 02 7613 9014
(from outside NZ: +64 3 27 613 9014)
E-mail: ianlothian@xtra.co.nz

The Brisbane Group of the Friends of the Little Brothers of Francis

This group meets on an ad hoc basis. For further information contact:

The Rev Canon Bruce Maughan
Chairman
Friends of Little Brothers of Francis (Brisbane)
122 Shrapnel Road
Cannon Hill Qld 4170

Telephone: 07 3395 6256
(from outside Aust: +61 7 3395 6256)
E-mail: bruce.maughan@bigpond.com

Franciscan Hermitages

From the very early days of the Church, there were both cenobites and hermits among the various groups of religious. The cenobites lived as monks in community life. The hermits lived in retirement to pray and meditate alone. So too, from the early days of the Franciscan Order, there were small hermitages where the Brothers could retire to give themselves more completely to a life of prayer and meditation.

Francis himself always felt drawn to remote places. Even as a young man, he liked to go with an unnamed companion to a grotto or cave near Assisi where they could talk undisturbed and where St Francis could pour out his heart to God. After he renounced the world at the court of the Bishop of Assisi, he spent the next several years living as a hermit and wearing the garment of a hermit.

When Francis and his eleven companions returned to the Spoleto Valley from Rome after their Rule had been approved in 1209, they first discussed among themselves whether they should live strictly as hermits or live a mixed life of prayer and preaching the Gospel. But even while they chose the mixed life of prayer and apostolate, Francis still wanted a number of places of retirement, called hermitages, where some at least of the friars could lead a life of seclusion and to which others could retire at least occasionally.

Thomas of Celano makes mention of such places a number of times, sometimes without giving their location, at other times speaking more precisely of the hermitages of St Urban, Sarteano, Rieti, Poggio Bustone, Greccio, La Verna and one even in Spain.

Brother Howard's Hermitage

Brother Wayne's Hermitage

The Quest for Solitude

There are two sides to seeking solitude. There are those who are running away from something; and there are those who are running after something. The first are those who seek solitude as a relief from their frenetic and busy lifestyles in the city with its crowds, noise, the stress of the workplace and hectic social life. They seek times and places of solitude for rest and renewal. For them solitude is an end in itself.

Then there are those who seek solitude because they are running after something. Monks, nuns and hermits seek solitude in order to find someone.

My soul is athirst for God, athirst for the living God. (Psalm 42:2)

Dry as a thirsty land, I reach out to you. (Psalm 143:6)

We all know that, for concentration upon a given matter, a certain detachment from competing interests is necessary, both externally and internally. So solitude provides that environment for this to happen in our desire for a more intimate relationship with God.

Sometimes, when we approach a person and wish to speak with them personally, we will ask them “Are you busy?” or we will knock on the door of the office and ask “Are you alone?” meaning “Are you free and disengaged?”. This is what is being sought in solitude.

The privacy of the room, to which our Lord bids us to go, and to shut the door to seek God’s face in prayer has a depth beyond a warning against spiritual pride. The room, like solitude, is a necessary place of separation conducive to being attentive and focussed on Him speaking to us.

Hermitage for Guests

All visits must be pre-arranged!

Callistomen Cottage

This cottage stands in a bush setting about 250 metres from the Community Building and provides simple but comfortable facilities. It is suitable for one person who would like to share in the life of the Brothers, but can accommodate a twin-share arrangement.

The Brothers do not exist in a vacuum. There are many hidden costs such as rates, power, gas, food, a community of Brothers to welcome you and a building that took a year-and-a-half to build. The charge of $50 to $60 per night covers simple accommodation and food. Visitors are required to get their own breakfast and lunch in the Community Building. The Brothers will provide a cooked evening meal.

Meals, as well as toilet and bathroom facilities, are located at or adjacent to the Community Building.

Visitors

Visiting Information

The Little Brothers of Francis is an Eremitical expression of the Religious Life with Saint Francis’ Rule for Hermitages as our map and guide. Before visiting, we strongly recommend you visit our website and read it carefully, especially the slideshow/powerpoint presentation. The Brothers provide a hermitage for one person to enable them to participate in our life. It is available from 1st November to the end of May. Each day begins and ends with worship, as we keep a round of liturgical offices which mark the rhythm of the daily routine distinctive of the Religious Life. Guests join in this pattern of worship which is led by one of the Brothers. It would be helpful if you could let us know how and where you are being spiritually nurtured.
A good level of fitness and mobility is necessary to manage the rough terrain and the work regime at the hermitage. Note that we are remote from medical assistance. A visitor with special dietary issues needs to negotiate them with the Brothers.

Visitors “unplug” so as to fully appreciate the experience of being here at the hermitage. There is no internet access, nor is there any mobile phone reception in the valley where we live. There is a phone in a metal box on a pole in the bush a kilometre’s walk up a steep hill from the community buildings which can be used by arrangement.

The guest hermitage

The guest hermitage is a simple building designed for one person. It is simply furnished with a table and chair, bed, and tea/coffee-making facilities. Lighting is provided from a solar panel and battery. There are verandahs on two sides and a rainwater tank for drinking water. There is an outside compost toilet close by. The guest hermitage is about five minutes’ walk from the main community area.

The community area is where community activities take place, and where the prayer-room, kitchen, library and refectory are located. There is also a compost toilet and basic bathroom facilities which are used by everyone. These buildings are surrounded by fruit trees, and the vegetable garden and apiary are nearby.

When packing for your visit, bear in mind that you are in bush surroundings. Pack sturdy working shoes and clothes suitable for gardening or other manual work – clothes that are easily washed. You will need a hat in summer.

With regard to work, come with a willing attitude and a preparedness to “have a go”! There is no set daily charge for your accommodation but we would appreciate a payment to cover our costs according to your means. Contact the Brothers for additional contact details. Please give us your phone number and postal address so we can follow up on your enquiry.