Monday, 23 June 2008

Commendation Weekend.

In the bar, where else?

Rob and Peter make their final farewells in the salubrious surroundings of the Chinese Restaurant.

And, of course, we have trainee nuns as well.

Fellow students in the lecture room.

Ian Wallis, Principal of the NOC.

Kenneth looking very Protestant.

A flurry of NOC scarves and hoods.

The Police Band processing to the Church.

And at the reception afterwards.

None of us were training for crime, thankfully.

One of the wonderful things about Wakefield College is that there are Police training notices everywhere, so David's talk on Quaker roots was given from a lectern offering advice on arresting and detaining criminals.

Indecent Theology indeed.

Indecent theologian?

In St John's Church before the service. Here you can see the Bishop of Manchester in mufti.

This last weekend I have been in Wakefield Police College again, for the Commendation Weekend of the Northern Ordination Course, which is training me for the Priesthood. The final year had their graduation service on the Saturday afternoon and then left us for their Parishes. It was good to see them go and not at all, for me, the cause of sadness it was for some as they were all so keen to get started and, of course, to be ordained Deacon next weekend. It was, as always, a surprise to see so many people, from so many Dioceses, as there is a danger of some insularity for those of us in Luther King House in Manchester, because we are on a different course (which itself closes when we leave) and we have little contact with others from places as far away as York and Ely.

Anyhow, the weekend began with our meetings on Friday afternoon and progressed through Saturdays teaching sessions (liberation and 'indecent' theology) to the Mass where the soon-to-be-Deacons stoles were blessed by the Principal (who made a superhuman effort to be there for the day, sick that he is) and we almost had an announcement as to who the next Principal will be, but not quite. In the afternoon we met at St John's Church for the commendation service where the leavers were commended for ministry and presented with their scarf and hood, the traditional Anglican Clerical academic dress. The Police band then marched us back to the ranch for a buffet and final party. The day finished late in a local Chinese Restaurant, as usual as we said goodbye to Rob and (the increasingly Father) Peter, two guys who have become very good friends of those of us in Manchester. Many WAGS were in attendance (can you have NOCWAGS? and of course HABS, as well).

Sunday dawned wet and cold, which boded badly for my boots which have great holes in the soles and we munched our way through hangovers and dozed through a presentation on Carthusian Liturgy and music before Mass, where we said goodbye to Mary Leigh, a long term tutor on the NOC course and friend to many.

My course continues unabated today, of course and in September the new course will welcome dozens of new students (although not at Luther King House) and a new Principal but the realisation will be with all of us that, for us, this is it, this is the last year we will have as lay-people, which is a sobering thought, through all the alcoholic fug of this last weekend. Pray for us, as we prepare to serve the people of God.