In this third placement post of the series, the focus is upon those candidating (ultimately) for the priesthood who spend their third year of formation in a year-long placement with a congregation or groups of charges looking at pastoral ministry and priestly leadership. Here we hear from two such Final Year ordinands, both training for self-supporting ministry: Blayne Peacock from the Diocese of Moray, Ross and Caithness and Ferdinand von Prondzynski from the Diocese of Aberdeen and Orkney.
My third year placement took place at St Michael and All Angels Church, Inverness (above), a very ornate building restyled by Sir Ninian Comper between 1904-28 and known as the ‘Comper Jewel of the Highlands.’ This was my introduction to the modern Anglo-Catholic tradition of sacramental worship, a contrast to my more low Church background.
I have found great beauty and simplicity in the liturgy and the Eucharistic celebration, which underlies the ritual and performance, and brings an authenticity and life to this sacrament. This is enhanced by copious amounts of incense, which indicate prayers ascending and heightens the senses during worship. I have served as part of the processional team during high Mass, as a server, acolyte, gospeller, intercessor, regular psalm reader and preacher – a wide range of roles to experience and draw upon.
The Church community has been going through a period of transition in the last two years. This has brought with it growth in numbers and also a revived sense of focus in mission and ministry. I benefitted from seeing faith at work, and enjoyed being a small part of it all.
I have from the beginning thought of my formation in the care of the SEI as a journey and pilgrimage, in the course of which I would encounter new views of the faith, often set in a new landscape, while not forgetting where I had travelled from. And so it has been. One of the joys of this pilgrimage is that we have been accompanied throughout by faithful fellow-pilgrims, while also meeting new people of God along the way, particularly in the placements.
My most recent stretch of the journey was with the Rector and people of St Andrew’s Church, Alford (above). Here I met Christians of diverse backgrounds with a myriad of stories: some sad, some joyful, but all deeply rooted in faith. I learned to see God’s work in their lives and on their own pilgrimages, and in many conversations found I was being ministered to as much as I might have been ministering. I learned to rejoice in God’s presence in their tradition, which was mostly different from mine, and to understand anew the meaning of our Lord’s prayer ‘that they may be one’ (John 17:21). As my pilgrimage continues, I know I am now accompanied by a yet greater number of sisters and brothers in faith in our common calling.
Photos courtesy of Blayne Peacock and Ferdinand von Prondzynski