Introducing Lisa the Curate - Part 2
Here we go again with part 2 of ‘my journey towards ordination’ story! I finished last week’s letter with an account of the conversation when Fr Tony asked me to consider whether ordination might be something God was calling me into, rather than a Youth and Family Worker role in another church…
I didn’t apply for the job but did think about Fr Tony’s words. I was sure that I did need to be working for God, full time, in some capacity, but was sure everyone else would think being a priest was as ludicrous an idea as me. I went to see various official vocations people within the church, such as Deanery Vocations Advisers and other clergy, as well as asking friends’ opinions. Shockingly they all agreed with Fr Tony and thought priestly ministry was something I should consider. So I struck a bit of a deal with God.
I said, “I am sure this is not your plan God, but I will go down this route until you close the door on it, at which point, I am sure you will show me what it is that you actually want me to do, and I will do that!”
So, I carried on walking the journey and taking the next steps in the process that the Lord seemed to be leading, waiting for things to change course and my actual destination to become clear. I made it through those early conversations with other church leaders, the year-long selection process of monthly 1.1 interviews, having my personality and life deconstructed and poured over and ended up at the 3 day Bishops Advisory Panel interview, where the national Church of England decides whether to recommend someone for ordination training. And having got the YES! after all that, I began another journey; theological and formational training for 3 years at St Mellitus College in London and officially becoming the Ordinand for Hutton Parish.
There were many times during my 3 years at college when I thought God may be closing this route to priestly ordination, due to the difficulties I faced and how challenging I found it. The global pandemic and subsequent lockdowns didn’t help either. However, I made it through the training and have learnt that I can rely on the Lord to meet my needs as He has provided so much more than I could ever ask for.
So here I am, college completed and now waiting for the next chapter to unfold as I am ordained on Saturday 11th September at Chelmsford Cathedral.
In the Church of England when you are ordained priest it is something you become. Much like being baptised or confirmed, it cannot be reversed. What you then do as a job is up to you: Vicar or Rector, Chaplain (perhaps in a hospital or prison), Associate Priest or Assistant Curate are just some of the job titles you might end up with. The job title isn’t the same as being a priest. I gave up my job as a teacher when I started theological college as I was being trained to be a full time, paid (stipendiary) priest. My previous headteacher said it would be nice for me to do a job that was only one day a week! Wouldn’t that be nice?! Normally, someone who has been selected for stipendiary ministry can be deployed anywhere across the Diocese for this next stage of training, the Curacy. In a twist to the journey, that only God could engineer, the Diocese agreed for me to ‘serve my title’ as a full-time curate in Hutton. This means that my existing role within the local community and specifically within the ministry of Daily Bread Café and Food Hub can become more permanent, supported partly through funds our parish has received in the last 18 months or so. Miracles do happen!
So that brings me, finally, to today. I am looking forward to my ordination in September and serving as your Curate in Hutton Parish for at least 3 years. I will be employed as the Church and Community Outreach Worker, managing Daily Bread as an ordained minister, in a collar, with all the opportunities that will bring!
Thank you to everyone who has been so instrumental in this journey; for the prayers, the encouragement, the love and friendship have all helped me enormously. I am grateful to be doing a job that I adore, in a community that I love, in a way that only God could have predicted.
With every blessing,