On pastoral placement at S Michael’s Brighton
Christopher Hammond is on pastoral placement at S Michael’s Brighton under the guidance of Canon Robert Sayers SSC [Vicar] who has sent in this report. All of his present activities could be said to form the basis of every priests daily grind!!We read:Christopher serves the altar on a daily basis and his sacristan duties include preparing the altar, vestments, liturgical books and vessels for Mass and clearing away afterwards. He shares in the daily recitation of the Divine Office, taking his turn to lead it and to read.
Christopher is a Eucharistic Minister: he administers the chalice at Mass; takes Holy Communion to the sick and housebound and to residents of a local care home where he conducts a Service of the Word. He has offered to collect and ‘wheels’ two disabled members to Mass on Sundays when they wish to attend. Although shy, he enjoys visiting members of the congregation in their homes, especially those who are housebound.
He is keen to learn more about the faith and to grow in it and in devotion to the Lord. He is much drawn to spending time before the Blessed Sacrament and appreciates Benediction. Christopher values the recitation of the Rosary and Marian devotion in general. He has an interest in Taize celebrations and has been involved on their revival in the Pariosh and recently and successfully directed the music for one such service. Christopher is a penitent and sees a Spiritual Director on a regular basis. It is planned that he will share in leadership of a house prayer group to begin shortly.
He is a ready helper in whatever tasks he is asked to undertake, demonstrating a valued flexibility and goodwill. He welcomes visitors, assists with events in church and helps in all kinds of practical ways. Christopher’s duties have included photocopying the weekly bulletin and other papers as and when needed. He has been co-opted on to the PCC and become its Minutes Secretary.
He has volunteered to help at Clocktower Sanctuary thereby assisting in its work of giving support to homeless and needy young people in Brighton and Hove and this he does every Tuesday afternoon. He has shown interest in the work of Street Pastors and been out as an observer once or twice a month. Christopher attends our Saturday morning Community Breakfasts and talks with the wide cross section of people who attend including the homeless and he often helps with washing-up! Christopher liaises with a food bank project supported by our church. He assists clergy at school assemblies and produces a ‘saint of the month’ display for the local church school and teaches the children new music for School Masses.
Recently he has attended another Vocations Conference organised by the Catholic Societies and continues to explore the call to priesthood having had a number of meetings with a Diocesan vocations consultant. Members of the congregation and clergy alike have warmed to Christopher and much value his helpfulness and having him with us on placement.
(Any aspiring candidate who thinks that any of the above will not figure in their daily life as a Priest should think again – it will! And much more! Ed).
To any aspiring candidates to the priesthood, you could do no worse than to read the following report. Thank you Father for your full and thoughtful report. It is worth printing in full. Because it is a personal report from the training incumbent we are not this time including names or a photograph.
This last year has been one of steady and consistent growth and development for our Curate. He has matured quite a lot during the last year and grown a great deal in priestly humility. He has continued to enjoy his vocation and ministry in what has been an exciting and challenging year.
His work had been to a high and professional standard. His time keeping is excellent and he has had no sick days over the period. He plans his work, achieving his objectives and has lived up to the expectations expressed in the year four Ministerial Agreement and Training plan for Durham Diocese.
He has continued to develop the knowledge and skills gained at Theological College and during his first year in ministry among the congregation and the wider community. He has a caring and pastoral heart and passion for teaching and evangelism. He can certainly relate theology into practice, learns quickly and has been more open over the last year to learn from experience and reflect upon it.
Our Curate has realised that, working in a complex society, everything may not be black or white or right or wrong and is much more aware of reaching out to and accepting people where they are and gently and sensitively helping to guide them to where Christ would want them to be.
I have been impressed by my Curates preaching. Sermons are well prepared and delivered, engaging the congregation and are well received. His preaching is relevant, fits with the theme of the day, sometimes spontaneous and he is not afraid to tackle difficult issues. I am sure with more experience he will be an effective evangelist and preacher. He is well aware of the importance of preaching with Christian worship and enjoys preaching and carefully teaches and encourages the people.
Our Curate prepares well before offering the Mass, in prayer and preparation. He takes a great deal of care during the liturgy and offers Mass with care and prayerfully and with the needs of the congregation in mind. He regards the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as the centre and source of his priestly ministry. He has also covered services in other parishes and has noted how different congregations respond to the same sermon and the difficulty in preaching to an unfamiliar congregation.
The daily office are very much part of our Curates life, he comes to the office prayerfully and as a vital part of his priestly life and discipline.
He sees the Occasional Offices as an area of mission. He is excellent at Baptisms which are not always easy at our Church.. He keeps control of the situation. However like most clergy, he is concerned at the lack of response of some families and we have reflected on this together quite a lot over the past year.
Our Curates funeral work is outstanding, well prepared, professionally taken and firmly Christian in content. He is extremely sensitive and many positive comments are made by the bereaved he has ministered to . This reflects his good listening skills. During the last year I had so much confidence in his funeral work that he conducted two suicide funerals from two very different families. Both families reported great satisfaction and comfort and the continuing care that he still offers to the families. He found the occasions mentally exhausting; to be expected from a difficult funeral. One new member of the congregation who joined the church after the funeral of her mother has commented that the whole experience and the result of coming to church has ”changed her life”. Our Curate is enjoying conducting weddings, has a good Preparation Course and once again takes great care in conducting the service.
He has a lot of confidence in his priesthood. He has settled into the role well and it is simply part of his life. As a young man I am impressed how he lives his Christian life, orders his life and household well and is generous in time to the people of God. He is well regarded by his neighbours and has seen the importance of keeping a public home in good order. He has continued a high profile in the parish and is well known by name.
The main areas of extra responsibility for my Curate over the last year were
- Start to prepare a mission mapping plan for the Parish – the initial planning has been achieved and the mapping will be completed by October.
- To make closer links with a School which has the weakest links with the Parish – this has been one of his major achievements over the past year. This school has joined with our other two schools in coming to church for Christmas and Easter Services. He has delivered high quality assemblies and done some teaching within the school. After being an observer at a School Governing body, he is now a Governor at the school. He is well aware of the importance of working in local schools as part of mission and evangelisation.
- Minister as padre of a branch of Air Training Cadets – he has enjoyed this work and works well with the youngsters and adult helpers and Officers. The ATC has come to two services in which they took part. He takes seriously the Padre’s Hour and prepares work on moral and ethical issues based on the Christian faith. He has attended weekend camps with the Air Training Cadets and is well liked and respected by the youngsters.
- Led the worship over the Easter Triduum and be principal celebrant over the period.-He led a wonderful Easter Triduum in the parish and celebrated the liturgies well and with great devotion. Once again he rehearsed, was well prepared and offered some positive suggestion regarding the liturgy.
- Secondary School work – as we have no secondary schools in the parish he has made contacts with a Secondary School outside the area. He has delivered assemblies and spoken to year groups informally.
- Major festival – He chaired the Festival committee. He chaired the meeting well, produced agendas and minutes. He also followed up tasks quickly and professionally and played a large role in delivering this major festival. He also acted as Chapter Clerk to the Deanery Chapter and this role is done with his usual energy and professionalism.
- Catechesis – Our Curate delivered a well produced Lent course on the Lord’s Prayer and a summer course on Seeing Salvation. The courses were well prepared and delivered.
I would like to thank ACS for their kind and generous contribution to the expenses incurred in training a curate and can assure you it has been well used.