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Gironde

Ordination of Rev'd Charlotte Sullivan in Bordeaux - Sat 17th March

(also, please see Charlotte's thank you message below)

Bishop Robert Innes, Archdeacon Meurig Williams, Chaplaincy Priests and Licensed Lay Ministers, and ecumenical partners had assembled for the ordination of Rev'd Deacon Charlotte Sullivan and for the appointment of Chaplain Rev'd Tony Lomas as Area Dean of South-West France and the Vendée.

The moving and joyful occasion was celebrated with the participation of the Bordeaux choir, augmented by participants from other parts of the Chaplaincy, and who ended the ceremony with a rousing Hallelujah Chorus, before the assembly repaired to the junior school for a welcome reception, organised by Pamela Prior with the help of many willing hands.

Such a memorable occasion; the most memorable moment being perhaps Charlotte's happy expression when she turned to face the congregation after her ordination – unforgettable !

Our thanks are due to the many helpers whose commitment and efforts contributed to the success of this important occasion.

 

Thanks from Charlotte

stolesWow what a weekend! Well, I’ve just had the most fantastic weekend and its all thanks to YOU! My church family. 

I wanted to take this opportunity to say a really big thank you. I know many of you worked so hard to make the day a success, especially Tony, and the congregation at Bordeaux. I’m sure that when you asked for a Priest to be based in Bordeaux, you didn’t quite plan on organising their ordination as well!  The ceremony, the music and the tea were all brilliant and everyone had a wonderful time, it was such a memorable day for me and my family. 

Before the ordination, I had a two day retreat at the beautiful Abbaye d’Echourgnac.  The sisters were as attentive and hospitable as ever, and I was accompanied by Rev’d Caroline Cooke (Diocesan advisor for Women’s ministry). Caroline had prepared a retreat for me based on Herni Nouwen’s book “The life of the Beloved”. A book I highly recommend if you have not already read it. Nouwen’s words led us both on a journey through faith and we reflected on how like the Eucharist we are all “Taken”, Blessed, Broken and Given.

I was very glad of Caroline’s company, because on the way to the service we had a flat tyre! If there is one place where you really don’t want a flat, it’s on the Pont d’Aquitaine (no hard shoulder!) Driving slowly, and shouting “keep praying Caroline” whilst nodding politely at the folk around us honking their horns, we bumped our way over the bridge before pulling off the motorway and finding a place to stop. Half a tin of puncture repair foam, found amongst the general debris of the boot meant that the rescue party from the Chapelle could be told to “stand down”! I have never been so pleased to see those red gates as we bumped our way into the parking. I haven’t even started at Bordeaux and I am aware that I have had to call for assistance from the congregation twice already. The previous time when I accidentally got locked out of the red gates during the LAM! (I’m really not this needy, Bordeaux, I promise!) 

I found the ceremony itself beautiful. Despite the journey, a wave of calm came over me as I sat waiting to be called to face the Bishop.  In those minutes I reflected on the many ups and downs and twists and turns my journey to priesthood had been. I was reminded of a sermon I heard when I was at Ely six years ago for my selection panel interviews. The preacher talked about life, how messy it can be sometimes, reminding us of God’s continued presence, in times of light as well as darkness. To illustrate his sermon the preacher  talked about the life of Dag Hammarskjöld. It was his famous quote that came back to me as I sat in my chair: “For all that has been Thank You - For all that is to come, Yes!   

I was reminded of how much I have to be thankful for during the service, especially as I knelt on the steps in front of the Bishop. We had some lovely comfy kneelers, but I was aware that my feet were just dangling over the front of the steps and I wasn’t exactly secure in my position! As the prayers continued I felt myself beginning to sway! Then the Bishop laid his hands on my head and invited the rest of the clergy to also lay on hands. Suddenly it felt like a dozen hands were holding on to me and making sure that I didn’t topple off the steps. The Lord reminding me that together we are stronger! 

I was completely bowled over when I opened my gift from you all, four beautiful stoles, (I have included a picture.) Vestments are treasured items and to know that mine came from you all makes them even more precious. Thank you xx

I am very excited by this new chapter in my ministry and shall be moving to Bordeaux in time to celebrate Easter.  Let the adventure begin! “For all that has been Thank You - For all that is to come, Yes!