St. Faith's Parish Church was very kind to me as a confused pilgrim and teenager. The liturgical life at St. Faith's was for me a real oasis in an arid desert and I hope and pray that it still functions as that for many of God's people.
I remember vividly speaking with Fr. Charles Billington one day after a midweek Mass: 'Father, Charles,' I said, 'could I please make an appointment to see you sometime soon?' To which the Reverend Father quickly replied, 'You want to be a Priest, don't you!' Fr. Charles was psychic, apparently, as well as possessing bucketfuls of priestly charisma which marked him out as one of God's very special priests. To him I am eternally grateful for seeing the hope-seed of a priestly vocation in me - of all people! I'm pretty sure it had lots to do with him saying his prayers.
I was sent to see the Bishop of Liverpool, who seemed to think this was a good idea, and he sent me to a selection conference in 1971. I was 'warmly recommended for training for ordination' and did nothing about it until 1983, by which time I was a teacher, married to Jocelyn with 2 children (Adam and Lucie) and the final one (Tom) on the way.
Whatever 'it' was would not go away, so off I went to another selection conference because, apparently, the writ of the Holy Spirit is deemed by the Church of England to have a shelf-life of about three years - and once again I was 'warmly recommended for training for ordination'. This time it was very much a case of 'action stations'. Lincoln Theological College offered me a place, to which we went in 1984 where, as an added bonus, Fr. Nicolas Aldritt (another St. Faith's ordinand) became my personal tutor.
Ordained to the Diaconate in 1986, I began to serve my title at St. Mary's Thornbury and at 7.30 p.m. on July 6 1987, ordained priest the day before, I presided at the Holy Eucharist for the first time.
I am now Rector of Weybridge in the Diocese of Guildford, and very proud to be one of only seven people in my parish who try to read The Guardian. The other 11,093 do not read The Guardian.
Job done? No.
Job started? Yes!
Thank you, St. Faith's, for your love, care, acceptance and fellowship. Long may God prosper you and long may you bring smiles to the angels of heaven.
July 20th, 2015