Training for Ordination

When the possibility of ordination started appearing possible, there was only one option of where to train – St Stephen’s House, Oxford. Fr Henry, the Vicar of All Saints’ had trained there; Fr Jonathan, the Vicar of St Mark’s had trained there; Fr Victor, the Curate of St Giles’ had trained there; Fr Stuart, the Curate of All Saints’ had trained there. And they all had their opinions of where I should train. And, to be honest, I was in the Anglo-Catholic tradition, so it would have been a good fit. But, in the back of my mind, was the realisation that I had some charismatic leanings which might not have fitted too well there. And, also, there was the slight issue that it had the reputation of being very against the ordination of women as priests where my views had changed to now being very supportive.

That said, I had no intention of going anywhere else, and so arranged a visit and interview. But my DDO (Diocesan Director of Ordinands) persuaded me to visit Ripon College Cuddesdon as well. We visited St Stephen’s House first and loved it (apart from the food – I’ve never been a fan of stuffed peppers). So the following week we visited Cuddesdon. Professor Martyn Percy, the principal, sold the place to us quickly and we were immediately sure this is where we should be – should I be accepted to train.

So, the following month I attended a three day Selection Conference at Shallowford House, right by the railway line – although I didn’t hear the trains. We were observed throughout every activity and meal, and even in the bar at night (where one of the candidates was a stage magician and managed to remove a selector’s watch without him realising). After a long wait, I heard that the Bishop of Reading was sponsoring me to train for ordination.

Pilgrims from Cuddesdon on their way to Walsingham

After a brief interlude to get married to Natalie and visit Nice on honeymoon we moved to Cuddesdon, moving into a flat in the “Runcie Building”. Three years there were punctuated firstly by an eye problem needing surgery, and then a period on exchange at the College of the Transfiguration in Grahamstown (now Makhanda), South Africa. In many ways my time there, in a completely different environment and with so many different cultures, was more formational for ministry that much of the other training. I learnt so much from my fellow ordinands about community, contexts, and the Anglican Communion, and have made some life-long friends.

Graduation of some students at the College of the Transfiguration

Sponsored to train for ordination by the Bishop of Reading meant that I was an ordinand of the Diocese of Oxford. Oxford always had many more ordinands than available curacies, so Natalie and I decided to take another step into the unknown – requesting that Oxford release us so that we could explore ministry somewhere else. And I had made some friends in the Diocese of Truro.