Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

lCalled to Serve

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

lCalled to Serve

Article excerpt

Byline: By Francis Wood

The day I was ordained priest at St Nicholas's Cathedral, the taxi failed to turn up. Dressed in my black cassock, I stood on the roadside and thumbed a lift from passing cars. A plain van pulled up and got me to the church on time. It was an undertaker's delivery vehicle!

The symbolism of burying my old life (as a chemist) and taking on the new life (as a priest) was not lost on me. In Durham and Newcastle Cathedrals this weekend, new deacons and priests will be ordained to serve in the church. They are much-needed today.

Ordination is not like starting a new job. It marks the start of a new life. Wherever these ministers are sent, they will not find it easy to hide. By their dog collars they will be known. They will live in glass houses and will be expected to pronounce on any tricky situation which society can throw up. Whether they like it or not, their opinions will count.

These have been trained and examined by the church. Now they will go out into society with the full trust of the church behind them. What a responsibility! We pray that it will not be too much for, if a priest falls from grace, the scandal is felt by the whole church.

In every district, ward or parish, we need people we can trust. We must be able to call on a minister to talk with and share our burdens knowing that our conversation will go no further. Ministers have no working hours, but are available at all times. As Royal Navy regulations describe a chaplain, "he is friend and adviser to all on board ship".

In my day a priest had authority which people respected. Today, such authority must be earned. If you are suspected of failing to practise what you preach, `hypocrisy' becomes your middle name.

It is said that, for a man to be happy in his calling, he needs status, reward and job satisfaction. If one of these three is low, the other two must somehow make up the deficiency. …

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