Revd Dr Kim Wasey, assistant priest at St Chrysostom’s writes: For over 15 years St Chrysostom’s Church has been welcoming young people to spend a year as a Parish Assistant supporting them in exploring and developing their vocations.
Many have completed the selection process during their time with us and 11 of those have been ordained priest or are correctly training for ordination at theological college. Some have discovered priesthood is not the calling for them and have gone to follow other paths with our prayers and good wishes.
We believe this is one of the way St Chrysostom’s serves the wider church. We are not wealthy in monetary terms, but we are wonderfully rich in people and place, and on our inclusive and catholic ethos. By offering that richness to encourage and support parish assistants in their vocation, we are able to share our gifts, through the priests who have gone on to serve the church from Durham to the Isle of Wight.
Through the parish assistant scheme St Chrysostoms gives much and gains much. Each parish assistant brings their own unique gifts, passions, challenges and insights to the role. They inspire us with their commitment and responsiveness to the call of God on their lives.
We journey with each one of them, offering real, grounded experience in the day to day life of a diverse and vibrant multi-cultural urban parish. They have opportunities to work with shelters and hostels, asylum seekers and refugees, mental health projects, and with many who find themselves on the margins of our society. They also gain experience in our parish schools, one of which has over 90% of its children coming from Muslim homes which helps us to really learn to live our faiths together in mutual respect and genuine service. There are university halls too, where assistants take on chaplaincy roles, as well as space to develop their own passions, which have included justice and peace, multi-faith and multi-lingual prayer, children’s creative projects, music, community activities… we are a church with a can do attitude and openness to try new things, which gives parish assistants the chance to explore and flourish, and enriches our life year on year!
Each parish assistant receives the commitment of supervision, a mentor, spiritual direction and support through the discernment process as well as the normals ups and downs of life and the personal development that the placement can offer.
On the journey each parish assistant has become a part of us and our story as St Chrysostom’s, just as we have of theirs, and we pray for them and rejoice with them as they are each ordained.
We celebrate the 11 vocations to the priesthood so far… but we are still counting! we have Rosie, our parish assistant this year, and we look forward to those we do not yet know, whom God is calling to share their journey towards priesthood with St Chrysostom’s in the years ahead.
PS See comments below for where they are as of October 2014…
And click here for Penny and Oliver telling what they did as Parish Assistants