James Herriot was a British veterinary surgeon who practiced in Yorkshire from 1939 onwards. His memoirs of working as a vet are collectively known as “All creatures great and small.” These were made into a television adaptation. At the end of his first year of practicing as a vet he wrote:
“There were people down there who thought I was a pretty fair vet, some who regarded me as an amiable idiot, a few who were convinced I was a genius and one or two who would set their dogs on me if I put a foot inside their gates. All this in a year. What would be the position in thirty years? Well, as it turned out, very much the same.” (James Herriot. From the postscript to “If only they could talk.”)
That is my experience of being a parish priest. Some think I’m alright, some regard me as foolish and misguided, a few think I’m brilliant and one or two will have nothing to do with me!
Whatever you think, or feel, about your new interim priest and ultimately your new rector, always pray for them. Indeed, please pray regularly for the wonderful team of clergy here at St. James’. One parishioner often tells me that she prays for me and all the clergy at St. James’ every night. I cannot begin to tell you just how precious this is to me for my faith and psychological well-being. A parishioner once rang for no other reason than to pray the Lord’s Prayer with me. Once when I was struggling, a bishop from another diocese called me and because of the geographical distance prayed for me on the phone, gave me his blessing. Please everyone, be diligent and joyful in constant prayer for the deacons and priests of this Parish.
Secondly and last, now is not the time to stop coming to Mass. Now is not the time to take a break and wait to see what happens. Ask not what St. James’ can do for you, ask what can you do to serve Jesus Christ through St. James’. Now is the time to pull together. Now is the time to step up, serve and work together. Now is the time to remember that the presence of Jesus is always with you. Now is the time to renew the promises of your baptism, to worship and to serve.
When you are sprinkled with holy water after the baptisms, everyone here present: remember that you are a temple of the Holy Spirit and not your own; remember to devote yourselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers; and remember that Jesus is with you always. Today you are entering a new season of grace. New life springs forth.
Father Mark Greenaway-Robbins