Speak always about God.
- Thomas Cotterill, S. Stephen’s House, 2019-2022
Departing St Stephen’s House on Pentecost Sunday, having concluded Mass with a hearty rendition of the Regina Caeli and the National Anthem, the Leavers of 2022 were reminded of that period of waiting which for the Apostles and the Mother of God culminated in the “rush of a violent wind” that marked the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon them. For those of us preparing for Ordination this Petertide, our waiting has a little longer to run. Indeed, unlike the Apostles and Blessed Mary on the Day of Pentecost, we are now no longer in “one place” but scattered far and wide, some already in their new homes, others still waiting to set up home.
The weeks between leaving seminary and being ordained are filled with much activity. This is perhaps an understatement! Many jobs need to be done, many things need to be boxed and packed. Routines that have sustained me for the past three years, at least in between the periods of enforced time spent away from SSH due to the lockdowns of recent years, have had to be adjusted. No longer am I lighting candles in Chapel at 6.55am on a weekday morning, for instance. Only time will tell whether I experience withdrawal symptoms from such a duty. Yet, I have not left behind a life of structured prayer. Gathering together for the recitation of the Offices and the celebration of the Mass whilst at the House has inculcated a recognition that discipline in our Christian discipleship is, whilst not perhaps entirely fashionable these days, fundamentally life-giving if those of us soon to be ordained are to sustain ourselves, let alone those shortly to be entrusted to our care, in communion with Christ who is our life. That being said, I do look forward to resuming corporate recitation of the Offices and a more frequent attendance at Mass than are currently possible for me in this time between leaving seminary and beginning curacy.
For me, the next few weeks involve moving to a whole new diocese. From the West Midlands, I will move to the south coast to serve my title in Brighton, which sits within the Diocese of Chichester. I wait with eager anticipation to meet not just people within my title parishes but those who worship within the Diocese. I look forward immensely to establishing myself in a new place, serving the Lord in the state of life which he has called me, and which his Church has trained me, to lead. Curacy, of course, is a time for continued ministerial education and formation. Yet, the learning and training that curates experience come on the job so to speak, allowing us to grow more fully into the person, the Christian, the deacon (and the priest) God has willed us to be.
I know that I speak for all those preparing for Ordination over the next month in asking that you would pray for us, for our Bishops who will ordain us, and for those to whom we will go. In turn, be assured that I pray that each and every person made in God’s image would have the grace to know and embrace the calling of God on their life, knowing that he wills us to be people who not only hear good news but live and manifest it.