Friday, 29 April 2011
Tuesday, 19 April 2011
Saturday, 9 April 2011
Hello again! It’s now less than eight weeks to the end of this my second year in formation. It hardly seems but a few weeks since I was writing back in September that I have just started my second year – and now here it is already winding down! I do sometimes feel that I am clinging onto a runaway train – but I am enjoying the journey! However, there are another two days at St John’s seminary, Wonersh, near Guildford, in May and June, along with a couple of essays and a short exam. Strictly the exam is not part of the course as progress is assessed continuously, but the Holy See (often referred to as the Vatican) wants men preparing for ordination to do exams! Whilst the formation team take this requirement seriously, it’s only a couple of hours and we get the two questions four weeks in advance! Every little helps, as the saying goes.
An important part of preparation for ordination as a permanent deacon, as for men who are studying for the priesthood, is the annual appraisal. For those of us fortunate to have a job in the current economic climate we will be used to appraisals. I have written my own self-assessment of 4,500 words –which is 2,000 less than I wrote last year. I am appreciative of the three parishioners who have taken the time to participate in the appraisal process at the request of my Parish Priest, following instruction from the director for the permanent diaconate formation programme. Appraisals are important as the director is ultimately responsible for recommending me for ordination at Westminster Cathedral next summer 2012, by Archbishop Vincent. I am hopeful that I will ‘pass’ my appraisal and be invited back for the final year. In fact, without being presumptuous, I think I might have had a clue as to how it might go, because I have been nominated by the other men in formation from across the dioceses, and appointed by the formation team as the Dean of Students for next year! Yes, I couldn’t believe it either! The position is one of service by liaising between the inter-diocesan formation team and the men across the three years of formation, to ensure that our formation days, residential weekends and retreats run smoothly. Special care has to be exercised for the men who will start next year to ensure that they ‘feel at home’ and learn the way we do things quickly. Most of my responsibilities will be delegated to other students and I will coordinate, troubleshoot and make final decisions for the student body.
One of the outcomes of the end of year two appraisal is installation by Bishop Alan Hopes into the Ministry of Acolyte with the other men in my year from Westminster diocese. This is the final ministry before ordination, following installation at the end of year one into the Ministry of Lector. I will write another update after Easter and let you know more details about that ministry - if I pass my appraisal!
Holy Week and the Easter services will soon be with us. They are beautiful opportunities when we can prayerfully journey with Jesus as he goes to his passion and death and celebrate his glorious resurrection. All we have to do is look at the cross to see what He did for us, and then ask ourselves what more can we do for Him in return. Attending the three Easter services, where our circumstances permit, is a good start, along with just trying our best to be a little more loving and compassionate to others.