I’m always glad to be involved in a Pre-Ordination Retreat and the Ordination Service. It’s a very ‘back to basics’ moment – very much in touch with Michael Ramsay’s ‘Christian Priest Today’ and all of that.
So we ended up in the rather magnificent Thornhill Centre, just outside Derry. Quietness, food and comfort – and Sister Perpetua lent me her broadband connection. The Ordination Service left me wondering – as I always do – about what it is that draws people in support of those being ordained. All sorts of people, just wanting to be there and to give encouragement. I haven’t got the hang of the WordPress upgrade [don’t start me] so I’ll put the sermon in the body text of a separate post.
Meanwhile I met one of the Derry clergy who had spent a summer placement with us in the parish – it must be about 15 years back. He was still laughing at a searing pastoral encounter which he had in Seagoe. I have no recollection of it. It probably passed almost unnoticed in the ongoing soap opera of parish life. He claims it went as follows.
He went to visit a family who lived in middle of a row of terraced cottages. No access to the back garden other than through the house. He knocked at the door. No answer. The window flew open and a voice asked in tones of thunder, ‘Are you from the Executive?’ [Glossary – Northern Ireland Housing Executive – pronounced as a staccato series of mangled vowels from the nether regions of the tonsils] ‘No, I’m not’ ‘If you’re from the Executive you can’t come in because my back passage is all blocked up.’