From the Vicar: firsts and lasts

Dear friends and members of St. Catherine’s

This will be the last ‘from the vicar’ I will write.  As of Monday, 10 July, I will be on leave, travelling with my brother and  his family.  As of 31 July I will cease to be your vicar.  I will, however, never cease to be your brother in Christ,….. your forever friend.

I came in June 2006 not knowing how deeply I would come to love St. Catherine’s Church and all those who have passed through  these doors during these eleven blessed years.  I did not know how much it would mean to me to baptize you, marry you, and for a few, bury your loved ones, to share with you the Body of Christ and the Cup of Salvation.  I only knew it would be an adventure in faith.  And boy was I right about that!

As I write this, my eyes are not tearful, but they are heavy.  These last two weeks have been a marathon of trying to squeeze everything in, doing many things that I should have done months ago.  But day by day, I accomplished another of the ‘last’ things…. last baptism, ….last house blessing,…. last Bible Study, ….last visit to Leutze.  My eyes are heavy, as today I awoke in Cologne, after going to Bishop Geoffrey’s funeral in Chichester yersterday. At the end of the service I had to rush back to Heathrow to catch my night flight to Cologne, where today I did my last deed as Area Dean, in interviewing a candidate for the post of Chaplain for Bonn and Cologne.

It was a grueling trip over and back in one day, but I wanted to do it for Bishop Geoffrey whom I first met in 1982, as a seminarian.  He was, after all, the one who hired me for this job, and installed me as vicar in 2006.   Going to his funeral was a duty I willingly did.  And what a funeral: so beautifully offered in the full glory of Anglican high church liturgy with lots of incense, Greek Orthodox patriarchs, a huge procession of vested clergy (including yours truly) several dozen bishops, including both Robert and David, our bishops, the Chichester Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys, and the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams as preacher…. It was all that Bishop Geoffrey deserved.  “The beauty of holiness, and the holiness of beauty.”

My eyes are heavy and I am tired, but I want to get this last report to the Webmaster before I go to bed.

I think that there is only one ‘last thing’ yet to be done…. One last Communion service.  I expect that is when my eyes will finally get teary.  Not my eyes but my heart will be heavy, as I try to look into the face of each and everyone there to say thank you for allowing me to be your priest, welcoming me into your families, and putting up with my strange and often overly exuberant American ways.  I won’t be able to say it to you all then, but I can say it now:  Thank you.  I could not have had a greater honour on this side of heaven than to have been with you in our shared pilgrimage here in Stuttgart.

From Monday on….no more last things… only a series of  ‘firsts’.  First day as a retired priest.  First Sunday with no service sheet in my hand.  The first day of the rest of my life.

But now I am going to bed.
See you Sunday.

Don’t be too early, don’t be too late … Please remember that, on Sunday, the Old Catholics will be worshipping, as usual, before us and once their service is finished there will be some setting up to do before our service can begin. Please follow the directions of the ushers as to where to sit, and how friendly to get with the person sat next to you. Extra space will be made in the side room, where a relay of the service will be available, but if you are late, please be prepared to stand, we may run out of seats.

Hymns for Sunday

Goodbye to Laura – this Sunday we will not only be saying goodbye to Ken, but also to one of our choir, Laura, whose time studying in Stuttgart has come to an end. Thank you Laura for sharing your musical gift with us and being part of St. Catherine’s Church.

Ladies’ Evening Group – our next meeting will be Tuesday 11th July from 19:00 at Amadeus, near Charlottenplatz. Contact Anne if you can join us

Women’s Group At our last meeting we said goodbye to Ken and talked a lot about where “Home” actually is: geographically, birth place or where your heart is. Our next meeting will be back on track on the third Thursday of the month, namely Thursday, 20th July from 10 until 12 in the Anglican Centre. We will be having a hymn book mending session, put off from last time, as we wanted to spend more time talking with Ken at his last get-together with us. But even without Ken we are determined to continue meeting up regularly and would welcome any newcomers – or old stagers – who would like to join us.
Contact Alison

Thank you to all those who completed the survey – the information provided has been colated and fed into the church profile currently being drawn up by the church council. The results will be retained so that when the new vicar arrives he/she can also read through them.
Pray for our new vicar The church council met on Monday night and made good progress on completing the documentation required by the dicoese as we embark upon the process of recruiting a replacement for Ken. Please keep in your prayers those candidates who may apply and who may eventually become the next Priest-in-charge of St. Catherine’s, Stuttgart.


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