Day 7 #OfGodandMe
A bit before my ordination, the Bishop asked me to take up a post as a prison chaplain. A new prison was being opened near to an existing one, and the local parish wouldn't be able to cover both. With some trepidation I agreed.
Somewhat to my surprise, the next 12 years were Incredibly fulfilling. I worked in open male, and closed female prisons. Once I'd got over the initial shock of working in a very unfamiliar environment, I had a deep sense of being in the right place. I met Jesus anew here.
Christian friends prayed that I might take Jesus into the prison. No! He was there first! "I was in prison and you visited me." I needed to care for the staff too. Most prison staff are professional & caring
Like you & me they can have a bad day. Once I asked a great officer if I could see a certain prisoner. "What do you want to see that little s*** for?" "She's not a s***. She's a beloved child of God." I felt arms around me and heard, "Thank you. We need you to say that."
Celebrating Mass with prisoners was a special experience that gave new insight into the love of the Lord for sinners - me as much as the prisoners. They prayed and listened to my homilies looking for help & inspiration.
"If I ask absolution, doesn't that mean that X's violent death doesn't matter?" "It means it matters a lot, but God still offers his forgiveness. If it didn't matter there'd be no need for forgiveness." Condoning and forgiving are different. Tabloid press please note!
I reach 60. I ask the bishop if it's time to move to parish work. He asks me to go the parish where I was received and ordained to the priesthood. Four happy years there using the presbytery as office, and commuting from the place we have called home since I was received.
It was hard at 60 to learn to pastor a parish where there were almost 300 at Mass and learn Catholic parish admin. My last C of E parish experience was at Grimethorpe where weekend attendance was nearer 50. People were welcoming and helpful.
Then I move to our "home parish", where I was ordained to the diaconate. A 10 minute walk to the presbytery each day. Five happy years, with kind helpful parishioners. Then the bishop allows me to retire. I help out in parishes, schools, university, COVID permitting!
In recent years I have found spiritual food in #Benedictine places. Retreats at @DouaiAbbey, & @BelmontAbbeyUK. Thanks to @MusicatBuckfast for joyful tears at hearing music in Church again. Very special chaplaincy weeks at Minster Abbey where @SisterWalburga lives.
@DouaiAbbey @BelmontAbbeyUK @MusicatBuckfast @SisterWalburga I hope my ramblings have helped some and hurt none. Thank you for sharing my journey
Tomorrow @EileanIdhe takes over #OfGodAndMe. We hope to have a day on Iona as part of a trip to Scotland later in the year, so we may even bump into each other!
@DouaiAbbey @BelmontAbbeyUK @MusicatBuckfast @SisterWalburga @EileanIdhe Summary of where I am with God today:
So long Thy power hath blest me, sure it still
Will lead me on,...
St John Henry Newman (who, like many others, has a big part in my journey that there is no room to tell here)
@DouaiAbbey @BelmontAbbeyUK @MusicatBuckfast @SisterWalburga @EileanIdhe As I look into the future:
Beloved Lord in heaven above,
there, Jesus, Thou awaitest me;
to gaze on Thee with changeless love,
yes, thus I hope, thus shall it be:
for how can He deny me heaven
Who here on earth Himself hath given?
St Alphonsus Liguori

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More from @FatherColin1

26 Jun
Day 6 #OfGodandMe
Yesterday I dealt with some of my unease with life & ministry in the Church of England. My experience of #IgnatianSpirituality taught me that God leads us through consolation rather than desolation, so I was wary of acting out of my desolation.
As Cyndy moved towards reception into the Catholic Church, I often accompanied her to Mass, while continuing my Anglican hospital chaplaincy. I grew increasingly aware that I shared the faith of the Catholic community. I wanted what Cyndy was finding. I felt at home.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church was published about this time. I read it from cover to cover - not what it was designed for! This is what I believed. Once Cyndy was received, I couldn't wait much longer. So I made the second great and good choice of my life.
Read 12 tweets
25 Jun
Day 5 #OfGodandMe
While I was Vicar of Grimethorpe, I heard and read a lot about #IgnatianSpirituality. I wanted to know more so I spent 8 days at St Beuno's in N Wales. The daily sharing of my experience of prayer with my retreat-giver was life-changing.
My love for Scripture was enriched by a renewed sense of God speaking with me through his Word. This was both consoling and challenging. I walked on the water and sank, with Peter as I felt that my life, faith, ministry were shams, play-acting. The Lord rescued me.
The eight days, and subsequent reading, retreats (including a 30 day experience) & courses changed both my own prayer life, & the way I accompanied others. They gave me the foundation for discernment through an attention to the path of the Lord's consolation.
Read 13 tweets
24 Jun
Day 4 #OfGodandMe
My C of E Ordination was in Durham Cathedral, between the shrines of Ss Bede & Cuthbert. My first curacy was on S Tyneside in a mining parish with estates built to house overspill from Jarrow. My vicar worked hard & expected his curates to do likewise.
All but three years of my ministry have been in mining & former mining areas. I came to love mining folk & their sense of community. I am aware of the debt our country owes them for their contribution to our prosperity over the years. Sad that is often unrecognised.
I had fondly imagined that the sight of me in a dog collar and my carefully pondered apologetics would bring people to faith. It didn't happen! But I gained much from the hard work and daily prayer of the parish.
Read 13 tweets
23 Jun
Day 3 #OfGodandMe I went to Uni to read medicine. I found the highest Church in the city with lots of smells & bells, and, vitally, faith in the Eucharistic presence of Jesus. I heard #GregorianChant for the 1st time. Beautiful. I met the #Angelus Prayer & the #HailMary.
Here, too, I heard a homily which had a profound impact on me. The vicar talked about Mary's words at the Wedding in Cana: "Do whatever he tells you." Since then these words have hit me at times of uncertainty & decision. They led me to make my 1st confession.
Confession is quite rare in the C of E except among very devout and very High Church people. Its regular practice gave me a sense of both my sin and God's forgiveness. For me it was also a matter of obedience, like Mary's Fiat and her call to the servants at Cana.
Read 11 tweets
22 Jun
Day 2 #OfGodAndMe
I ended yesterday with by questioning whether there was more to the #Eucharist than my C of E Confirmation Preparation had indicated. As my teenage years progressed the question began to be answered by a series of events. I still see God's hand in them.

One of my closest friends at grammar school was a practising Catholic. We were drawn together by a common love of music and by the fact that we were among the very few in our year who practised any faith. We both played the organ in Church from time to time.
2/11 ImageImage
One day my friend invited me to try the organ at his Catholic Church. As we entered the Church he genuflected. It was the first time I had seen anyone do this. I asked him what he was doing. He pointed out the tabernacle and shared his faith in the #Eucharist.
Read 11 tweets
21 Jun
Day 1 #OfGodandMe
I was brought up as an Anglican. My mother worshipped regularly in the local Parish Church. Initially I went to Sunday School. My only memory of this is the song which was taken during the collection every week which started "Hear the pennies dropping"
When I was almost 8 I joined the Parish Church Choir. The main services were Morning & Evening Prayer. I can date my lifelong love of the #Psalms from this time. I didn't understand every word of the 16th century English, but the imagery and passion inspired me even then.
2/9 Image
My love of music grew at this time. I played both recorder and piano. Music has enriched every part of my life especially my faith life. I have been exposed to many sorts of music. I don't like them all equally, but all have enriched me in different ways.
Read 9 tweets

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