Saturday, 7 May 2011

Church peculiarities.

I try not to talk too much about the good old C of E in case it gets me into trouble  but after having read a couple of blogs recently by other priests I am tempted and have today we go!
When the bishop suggested that I be ordained forthwith, he knew my age. I was already over 60. They knew that it was too late to start any courses and so I was put on placement for a year and had the bishop as my tutor.
Following another priest around for a year, filling in for everything that came up, was just about the best training possible. I am still firm friends with that priest. She taught me so much that its impossible to ever give her sufficient thanks.
At this time I was still the secretary of my local church through an interregnum so I ran that for a year as well.
After I was deaconed we had an incumbent appointed who did his best to teach me but his ideas were very different from the previous one. I had a fairly difficult and busy  year before being ordained priest. Soon afterwards I became the curate of the next parish and within a week of the licensing the Rector went off long term sick. I married the church warden and got on with the job...
When he then took early retirement my husband and I ran the parish for a couple of years, with weddings most weekends plus all the other joys of parish work.
By this time I was past 70 and got retired. My usefulness had come to an end. It was a fairly brutal business . at a large meeting the parish were told that as I was over 70 I was no longer able to work. Gasps all round.
 "Thank you for telling them my age"  I managed to make a joke of it but came home feeling let down.
The new incumbent was not yet in place and I continued to work.... even though I now got none of the handouts from the diocese. I did point out that as they did not pay me then talk of retirement was academic if not daft ....but no I was out. At this stage I was then told that I had done what they had priested me for...and given the impression of being a sort of sticking plaster to cover the gaps.
I couldn't help it. I felt very let down and the bunch of flowers from the diocese that marked my retirement did little to make me feel better.
I am now extremely lucky with the incumbent of this parish. He includes me in everything and makes me feel valued in a way that the diocese never has.
During my years as a curate I made huge sums of money for both the diocese and the parish...I have never ever claimed  expenses for anything I've done and never will. I do not cherry pick. I will do all the rotten jobs as well as the good ones.  I do what I do for the love of God and for the church. I count myself as a very lucky woman to have been ordained at all and so realised a calling heard in my teen age years.
That God has found me enough work in my old age is a blessing and I'm grateful for it.
Winifrid Holtby had it right.
God give me work till my life is done.
And life till my work is over.
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