Christianity Church of England & Ministry

The Curate’s Journey : The ‘O’ Word


This cartoon by Dave Walker originally appeared in the Church Times


So, let’s just recap:

: 6 months of crazy as I thought I was going insane

: 3 months of finding some peace (well, attempting to)

: a year of the discernment process, followed by ‘a year off’ to get over the remaining crazy

: 2 1/2 years of study (so far)

and, yes ladies and gents, the day is nearly here.

Yes, it’s the ‘O’ word – no not that one – I mean ORDINATION. Yes it may be a few months away but suddenly it’s all a bit real. After a visit to the Bishop’s Palace a few weeks ago I now know all that I need to know and boy is it scary.

My brain has been in overdrive: what do I wear? what do I say? who can come to the service? what happens if I faint? Will it matter if I cross my fingers? (jokes. well, slightly) Where is it? When is it? Am I going to lose it? will it matter if I have snot pouring down my face when the Bishop does his stuff? arghhhhhhh…

Ok, I may have slightly begun to lose it. I think the truth is, it’s the sudden reality that I am actually getting ordained. As much as I may have prayed for God to shut the door he hasn’t. In fact I think he’s probably standing there holding it wide open smirking at me smugly.

This is the culmination of years of prep and planning and of course an absolute mountain of prayer but talking of the thing itself makes me come out in a cold sweat. All those old thoughts: Am I worthy enough (no of course not), Does everyone think that? (probably but if not they should do) Can I do this? (doubt it – only with God’s help), what on earth was God thinking? (well you could ask him), and so on…

I know the service itself is really just a point on the horizon, end of training but beginning of doing it for real, although as I already work for the church it’s more like a job change. As a family we kind of had this ‘thing’ of not really thinking about it all until ‘after Christmas’ (probably just a neat way of sticking our heads in the sand) but the thing is, now it is ‘after Christmas’ and there’s no more putting it off. We have to plan. We need to rent our house out, think about moving to a new one (if they ever find us one…), plan for new school runs (although thankfully the younger two are staying at the same school so that’s one less worry), plan for leaving my job, planning handover, saying goodbyes. Oh yes it is real and time is flying by.

Suddenly there’s stacks of forms to fill in, yet another DBS check to do (seriously I have about 4 already), certificates to find (yup. any qualification needs to be prove, cue one trip to the back of the loft cupboard for the husband), and meetings to be had. Not to mention the 5 essays I still need to hand in.

Then there’s the whole service, to which we get given a grand total of 20 tickets. Yes just 20, in a cathedral that must seat about 1000. This means we basically have to rank our friends in some form to decide who gets the tickets.  As for the other questions, I guess we will find out on the day whether it matters if I totally lose it or faint (but please pray that I don’t!).

So perhaps by worrying about the service itself I am still sticking my head in the sand, but that’s my current focus and I shall enjoy it thank you very much.

But I do now know exactly what I need to wear – which for a charismatic like me was an interesting discussion, I can tell you – but I can now name the items I need to wear. Why thank you, yes I do deserve a medal. I mean really, what is an alb when it’s at home? and why is it such a random word? and whilst we are on this (and I defo don’t need one of these obvs) but biretta? I mean surely that is some kind of Italian mobsters pistol no? and oh my word but have you seen some of the clerical wear out there?



yellow? seriously?



er, just no.



ok so let’s not comment on which environment this shirt might be better suited to…

And, I rest my case…

Anyway thankfully I shall not be wearing it all that much and I’ve gone for simple and minimal. And I really do thank God for that because DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH IT ALL COSTS? well, a flippin’ lot basically. I mean this is probably one of the worst paid jobs ever (which is not something that I am bothered about I’m just making a point, just so you know) and yet the ‘uniform’ costs a small mortgage. There is, I am glad to say, a grant to get you started with this, but I tell you I will be wearing my clerical shirts until they are thread bare (funny I just managed to correct an awful but very funny typo in that sentence before going live…).


So if you see me in the next few months and I seem, well, a little distracted or I start twitching inanely then perhaps you will understand why…



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  • Reply
    Sally Prendergast
    February 11, 2016 at 7:24 am

    You won’t faint ???
    Sending prayers anyway!

    • Reply
      February 11, 2016 at 10:38 am

      thank you! x

  • Reply
    Paul White
    February 11, 2016 at 8:13 am

    All the best for the continuing journey!
    In my humble opinion it is best to dress ‘properly’ for the ordination service and not to make a point about theology through one’s dress, at that stage. The best value outfitter is definitely J&M Sewing Services. They have a terrible website but they are really nice and all my kit from them is still good 8 years after the initial event!

    • Reply
      February 11, 2016 at 10:39 am

      Thanks, actually I’ve ordered what I need now and got some bargains too! Thankfully where I am going I don’t need too much anyway.
      Still thinking bright red shoes or swear word socks might be in order though 😉
      (I am joking, shoes have to be black anyway!)

  • Reply
    Sarah Murray
    February 11, 2016 at 9:52 am

    Expensive, yes but if you want something that lasts really well, and is designed for women then have a look here
    Every blessing as you prepare!

    • Reply
      February 11, 2016 at 10:40 am

      thanks Sarah, yes I did look at them but decided too pricey, although lovely designs 🙂 maybe in the future!

  • Reply
    Ben Hollebon
    February 11, 2016 at 4:03 pm

    So when can I expect my ticket?


  • Reply
    February 11, 2016 at 4:08 pm

    Daunting, but you will be fine, even if you’re a bag of nerves on the ‘O’ day. Will be praying for you as you move house (worse than a divorce some say) and all of the stuff that it brings. But just contemplating your ministry in a new place, with new people, all of the while still learning and doing POTTY training alongside curacy – than before you know it, your Priestly Ordination will be along – at least, you will be settled (hopefully) by that time.

    If it’s any consolation, we’ve been given our date for licensing for LLM in 2017, either 13th or 21st of May – I know that it’s more than a year ahead, but the programme between now and than seems to short that it’ll be along too soon. We’ve lost some along the way, who decided to just complete the Foundation (Bishops Certificate) part of the course, and they’ll be sorely missed. But we’ve picked up some waifs and strays, from earlier courses, or transferring from different ministries to LLM – exciting for us (new people bring new insights and learning with them) but those who’ve accompanied us so far, are real ‘livelong’ friends – you can’t do something so intense and demanding in a cohort without that happening. One is off to Mirfield, having discovered a vocation to the religious life – how God works is beyond me, but WHAT a discovery, half-way through the process.

    Prayers for you (and for the others in your training cohort), may all of your ministeries be blessed, grace and joy filled.

  • Reply
    Chris Goswami
    February 16, 2016 at 1:40 pm

    Switch now and become a Baptist! Wear anything you like cos no-one else will be dressed up and invite people as many as you like cos you will be the only person getting ordained at your service. And that’s just for starters!!! ………… (terms and conditions apply :-))

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