Straight from General Synod to the Society of St Francis at Alnmouth to join our Candidate Deacons on their pre-ordination retreat.
I have a very soft spot for the Franciscans because their house in Belfast was just round the corner from where we lived in North Belfast in the mid-1970’s. It was a strange time. I remember Hubert coming and blessing our cats – which seemed to be an appropriately Franciscan thing to do. Whether that included something to stop them reducing the local bird population or not I don’t remember. The house was made available to the Community by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive as a way of attempting to encourage people to live in what was an area of ‘mixed’ housing close to one of the many Peace Lines in the area – in this case a 20 feet high corrugated iron screen. Unfortunately the local residents decided that they were Catholics and stoned the house as they moved in – so they took refuge with us.
But once things settled down, it was wonderful to have them nearby. Peter Timothy was with us in the parish – his ashes are in the garden at Alnmouth.
So Bishop John and I went to join Diana and Gerry who were there with the ordinands for the Diocese of Edinburgh.
The days of a formal ‘Bishop’s Charge’ may be fading but I offered them this