God’s Sense of Humour
Whoever says that God has not got a sense of humour has only to look at me- 67 years old and recently ordained priest
My journey has been one of twists and turns and if the Lord hasn’t been walking alongside of me he was in the background somewhere and I never felt he wasn’t there.
It was a journey that started way back in the late sixties when friend of mine joined the Franciscans the idea of what he was doing me attracted me and I felt that was what I wanted from my life – so I spent a long time talking to them and they eventually decided that I would not be able to cope with the studies and coming from a secondary modern school background in Liverpool I thought they were probably right but “that feeling” wouldn’t go away.
Fr Godfrey Carney put me in touch with the Carmelites and I spent seven really happy years with them and If I am honest I would say that I was probably too immature for a religious life and brokenheartedly I left Carmel and spent several years in the “wilderness” but good friends from Salford Diocese rescued me and I spent a year at the Beda College but my heart still lay in Carmel.
I came back home and realising that I needed some time off God – now I might have needed some time off him but he still had plans for me (though I didn’t realise it) and I went to work at St John’s Catholic School for Hearing Impaired Children Boston Spa (incidentally it has always been the only Catholic School for Hearing impaired children in England) and of course I was so happy there –“but that feeling hadn’t left me” but I began to really understand the meaning of the word service and I spent thirty-three years or so in Boston Spa.
During that time I met Theresa who was to become my wife of over twenty-six years until she died of Cancer, but she gave me the gift of love and two amazing children, one a Specialist Teacher the other studying for his doctorate in Music at Cardiff University and a Jazz Musician with Leeds band “Me and My friends”. Theresa also gave me courage and I studied for the Permanent Diaconate for the diocese of Leeds where I was ordained in 2004 and I was appointed as chaplain to St Johns School Boston Spa the best chaplaincy job in the world!! and Parish Deacon at St Edwards Clifford. I was lost really after Theresa died and I was determined to put all my efforts in being there for Frances and Sam.
I was taking a visiting priest back to the Airport after he was staying in Clifford when he literally dropped into our general conversation “have you ever thought of priesthood”. This suggestion really stuck in my mind and I thought to myself does God really want someone like me and I determined to put the idea out of my mind but it wouldn’t go away so I went to a priest in the Leeds Diocese thinking to myself this very wise man will put me right, and tell me straight if I was being ridiculous but what he said to me was “Well first of all pray to Theresa and ask her what she thinks” which I did and still continue to do.
In the meanwhile he told me that he would put me in touch with Mgr. Grogan the vocations director – I determined not to tell my two children in the first instance, but a message left on the house answerphone by Mgr Grogan only served to cement what they both thought would happen and it didn’t even come as a surprise to them but I have to say that their support gave me the courage to continue with my discernment.
And thanks to Frances and Sam to Canon Joseph Taylor, Mgr Grogan and Bishop Marcus who was brave enough to place his confidence in me. I completed my course at Oscott after being well looked after by the staff and supported by the student body. I followed a programme of study which enabled me through the goodness of the Lord to serve him as his priest. I am delighted to be in Harrogate and I hope I can be of use to the Parishioners of St Roberts through my Priestly ministry
And to quote Mgr Heskin Vicar General in the Diocese of Leeds “ Well Abraham was almost a hundred years old when he was called”