Paul recently went on a Bishops’ Advisory Panel to assess his suitability for training for the priesthood. Paul writes about the experience:
I’m pretty good at waiting, I never shake and prod a gift to try and work out what it is before my birthday and I usually deal well with the anticipation of a big event but when it came to attending the Bishop’s Advisory Panel (BAP as it is known) on 8th May, I remember wishing the time away so I could just get there and face the music. The reason why I was uncharacteristically impatient was simple; I felt I had been waiting for so long along with the build up to it, with the completion of forms, interviews with advisors and supportive talks with Priests and others had got me to the point of saying “please God, let me get it over with so I know what you want me to do”.
Mark drove me down to Shallowford House near to Stone in Staffordshire, an area I know well having been born and bred in the county. We stopped and had afternoon tea in a café beforehand but the butterflies in my stomach did nothing to aid digestion! Mark told me afterwards that he imagined it was how it felt to drop a child off at school for the first time and I was very grateful to him for taking the afternoon out to drive me as spending that time together was the final bit of preparation.
Shallowford is beautiful, it is a large old house surrounded by 9 acres of land with an impressive pond, chickens and best of all a Peacock which from time to time loudly reminded us of his presence. There I met 14 other candidates, all with different stories to tell but with a shared purpose to respond to God’s will. We spent time together in formal activities and in recreation, we supported each other, we willed each other to do well and to coin a modern phrase, we “had each other’s backs”.
The BAP was worth the wait, I thoroughly enjoyed it and I knew as I got into Mark’s car for the journey home that whatever the recommendation I would graciously accept God’s will. The time I had spent in Christian fellowship with those 14 comrades, whom I had never met before and will probably never meet again, as well as the amazingly supportive BAP Secretary and 6 Advisors, was a great gift.
A few days after the BAP Paul learned he had been recommended for training. We were delighted to hear this at Church. Congratulations from all at St Chrysostom’s!