Saturday 17 January saw our Chapel here at Allen Hall packed with visitors. We were welcoming Bishop Nicholas Hudson on his first official visit for a milestone event, ordinations to the diaconate and his first ordinations since being appointed bishop. Two of our three candidates for the diaconate were from Westminster Diocese, Bill Bowder and Daniel Humphreys, whilst Lawrence Ndlovu comes from the Diocese of Johannesburg. It was a particular pleasure, then, that the South African High Commissioner was among our guests, as well as Lawrence”s Vocations Director, who had flown to London specially.
All three new deacons continue in their training and formation for the priesthood, and to have their ordination at this point in the seminary year helps us fellow seminarians to realize that we are all journeying and, we hope, growing in faith and love as we look to entering more deeply into the life and work of Christ himself. In the week before the ordination the deacons-to-be made their Professions of Faith and recited their Petitions for Ordination before us as a Community; that was a profound moment of realisation that we, too, hope to stand up publicly and make the same request of God and his Church.
Saturday was the feast day of the early Christian Egyptian hermit St Anthony and Bishop Nicholas in his homily picked up on several themes from the saint’s vocation and life. Both for the deacons and the rest of us there is the reminder of the crucial discipline of prayer if we are to remain faithful in face of difficulty or any disillusion. In particular Bishop Nicholas pointed us to St Matthew 9:9 and those words of Jesus ‘Follow me’, that will need constantly to echo in our lives.
Of the three deacons, Lawrence will serve as ‘House Deacon’ here at Allen Hall, whilst Daniel will continue his weekend placement in Poplar and Limehouse parishes. Bill, who is a married former Anglican, will continue in Highbury parish; as he is non-resident, it was especially good to have his wife Caroline at the ordination as a part of our Allen Hall Community.