The last month has brought much cause for celebration. On 7 July, Martin Fyles, James Finnegan and myself received the lay ministry of Reader. In addition, Michael Harwood from the Beda College received the lay ministry of Acolyte.
We were instituted into these ministries during a Mass celebrated by Archbishop Malcolm McMahon at St Charles parish church in Aigburth. Originally, I had been due to receive this lay ministry at Oscott with the other students in my year group on 24 March, but the lockdown prevented this. While it is a requirement to receive these two lay ministries in order to be ordained, they are still quite separate from the priesthood. As already mentioned, these are indeed ‘lay’ ministries – roles for lay people, rooted in baptism. It was a great afternoon, shared with my fellow seminarians.
On an equally celebratory note, we were recently able to reopen our parish church for the celebration of public Mass. After four months of having just Father Ian and myself in church, it was a cause of great joy to see other people sat in the pews. I could clearly see that people were smiling under their masks as they walked into church. Yet while the church is back open, we are still planning on streaming the Sunday Mass for those who are shielding. When I applied for seminary, I never thought that part of my formation would entail coming to grips with broadcasting software, but God does have a sense of humour!
Speaking of streaming, over the past few weeks we’ve been able to include contributions from our parish schools: on two consecutive Sundays we had some of the children leading us in our bidding prayers, and they did it so well.
As this is my last letter, I would like to thank you for reading this column over the past year. I hope you have got something from it, as I have certainly gained a lot from writing these articles each month. Please remember to pray for vocations in our diocese, that the Lord will send many workers into his great harvest.