Last week at a meeting in St. Albans one of the people there came up to
me over coffee to chat and began by saying “Ah, Steve I see you are
getting a curate.” We continued the conversation but later on I began
pondering the language of the question wondering if it were quite right.
It seems to me you could say to someone: “I hear you are getting a (new)
car,” but maybe not “I hear you are getting a (new) baby.”
Now Paolo is neither a car nor a baby but the point is that I am not
sure I like the feeling of the word getting. To explore what might be
better it is helpful to remind ourselves of who a curate is, what their
ideas and intentions may be and how we, St. Margaret’s, fit in with
that. Paolo and his fellow first year curates will be ordained deacons
on July the 3rd in St. Albans abbey. For them this is a culmination and
a beginning. The culmination of years of thinking about possible
ministry in the church, of then at least a couple of years of formal
exploration, the tension of presenting yourself for selection at a
Bishop’s panel, followed then by three years of academic study,
practical training and ongoing assessment of suitability.
At last, after all that the Bishop will lay his hands upon them:
“Send down your Holy Spirit on your servant, N, for the office and work
of deacon in your church.”
So begins a new way of life as an ordained person – as I write in this
month’s magazine about deacons, they are set apart, to work alongside
bishops and priests as heralds of Christ’s kingdom. Paolo will go into
the cathedral with his white stole over his arm and during the service
it will be tied on him, across his chest, to remind him and everyone
that he is now ordained. Every curate coming out of the abbey that
morning will be a gift; a gift to the church as a whole, and in Paolo’s
case a gift to St. Margaret’s in particular.
This gift is much more like a baby than a car (but maybe you shouldn’t
tell him I said that!).
So I want to say we will be receiving a curate – yes that’s much better.
We will receive a curate with great joy, he will bring us great pleasure
and we will have a responsibility for Paolo who will be with us for not
less than three years and maybe more. Our mission in that time is:
To teach, encourage and enable Paolo to be an excellent priest
capable of serving the church anywhere in the Anglican Communion.”
Notice I say it is our mission – we are all part of this and as we live
together we will benefit from his character, his experience and learning
which will enrich our church life. We are already fortunate to have Paul
and Teresa and between the four of us there will be individual nuances,
interpretations, skills and strengths. Together we pray that there will
be a valuable texture to be enjoyed.
In the book of Exodus there is a moment when Moses is training Joshua
and he sends him into battle against Amalek and his army. Moses stays at
the top of a hill to watch the progress raising his hands in prayer and
support. When his hands are raised the battle goes the way of Joshua but
the battle is long and when Moses’ hands become weary,they fall and the
battle swings in favour of the enemy. Aaron and Hur who are on the hill
with Moses noticing this each take one of Moses hands and raise them
together. Of course Joshua came through.
On Sunday the 17th July we will celebrate our Patronal festival,
thinking about St. Margaret’s church and it’s place in the community,
pondering perhaps the story of the dragon. It will as usual be at 10.30
so that all our congregations can come together and what better occasion
could there be to welcome Paolo to his first service with us, begin to
benefit from his presence and to pray for his time with us for praying
is something we can all do.
to Top Back to