When I was an ordinand I went on holiday to Madeira with a tour group and found myself on the bus with the only other single person on it. On the second day we visited a wine cellar to taste the The local brew. Sitting together sipping he asked me what I did.
"I am an ordinand" I said and got ready to explain what that meant. He held up his hand at the first words.
"No need to explain. I've been one."
He was a Roman Catholic priest and that conversation was the start of an extraordinary friendship. Over the next two weeks we discussed everything important to both of us. He turned out to be a Bible scholar who had written books on it which are still being used in seminaries both here and in the USA.
He set about teaching me with great good humor. Over several glasses of wine most evenings he acted out various Biblical stories with humor and gusto.
Our holiday over, we stayed in touch. That fact that I was a female about to be priested didn't put him off one bit. He sent me his books and I still use many of them in sermon prep to this day.
He was a lovely man who hoped that one day women priests could be ordained into his church too. He paved the way for several more good friendships with Roman priests. They are all worried about the Popes visit only because they fear that there will be demos and they don't want the present atmosphere of local cordiality to be shattered.
I pray that all goes well next week as do they all. We have more in common than what separates us.
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