Paul Raynes, Director of Operations and Finance for the Diocese of East Anglia, was ordained to the permanent diaconate by Bishop Peter Collins in a solemn ceremony at the Cathedral, attended by clergy, including Bishop Emeritus Alan Hopes, priests and deacons from various locations. Family and friends, including staff and fellow-governors from St Edmund’s College, Ware, and the National Shrine at Walsingham also gathered to witness this significant event in Dcn Paul’s life.
Bishop Peter delivered the homily during the Mass, he said: “We are joyfully gathered. It is a particular joy that Bishop Alan is here with us, priests from the diocese and beyond, together with our own college of deacons, and deacons from elsewhere. You, God’s holy people, we are gathered as one to rejoice on this day. Paul John Edward Raynes, by annunciation of your full name, makes it seem as if I’m about to pronounce a prison sentence. This is not the case. However, as I call and accept you for ordination to the diaconate, I am charging you with the duty of assuming yet more responsibility, charging you with the duty of undertaking yet more work.
“If it were merely a matter of you doing yet more than you are already doing, I would undoubtedly be culpable of inflicting upon you an intolerable burden. You are a busy man; you are not merely a busybody. You are so much more. You are a most generous man, a generous husband, and a generous father. You are part of a most generous family. Your son Francis, your daughters Audrey, Elizabeth, and Catherine and your beloved wife Sarah. On behalf of the Church, I thank you, Sarah, for your willing generosity in supporting Paul in his embrace of the diaconate.
“Paul, as a son, as a husband, as a father, you have been enveloped by love and explored its territories. Yet another period of exploration awaits you in your future ministry as a deacon. As a deacon, you are to be an icon of love, of charity. The love made manifest in service to the Gospel, the love made manifest as the most glorious expression and encapsulation of the Gospel.
“You were nurtured in the faith from infancy and onward through your childhood. There is ample evidence to demonstrate that your faith became deeply rooted through your teenage years. The magnificent influence of the Salesian charism is imprinted upon your soul. You creatively embraced the opportunities provided by your education pathway, sustained by the Salesians who are here represented today.
“As a straight-A student, you went up to Downing College in the University of Cambridge and read English literature together with Anglo-Saxon, Norse, and, I am happy to say in providential fashion, Celtic linguistics, all in preparation for dealing with a Welsh bishop in your future. I say a straight-A student of course I consulted your file in anticipation of today’s proceedings and I was concerned to find that alongside the full array of A grades at GCE, at an ordinary level there was one glaring anomaly – Religious Studies grade C. This was compounded at A level; three grade A’s but philosophy grade E. Therefore, I have considered your academic formation for the diaconate to have constituted a remedial course in theology and philosophy.
“Your professional journey has taken you into the civil service, including the diplomatic service. You became a journalist for a time before taking up a sequence of senior posts in various national agencies and local government. Last year, you were appointed as Operations and Finance Director within our diocese.
“As a deacon, you are charged with the duty of providing a beacon of hope for those around you. You are called to become a minister of the word, a minister of the altar, and an icon of charity for all to behold.
“As a deacon, by word and deed, bring hope to all your brothers and sisters. Do so in communion with all of the baptized. Do so in communion with your brother deacons, the College of Deacons. Do so in communion with the presbyterium. Do so in communion with your bishop.
“Your illustrious Parish Priest, Fr David Finegan, often tells you that you are his deacon within the fair boundaries of St Etheldreda in Ely. Tell him from me that you are, in fact, my deacon. Sarah, you can tell Fr David, and you can tell me, that Paul is first and foremost your husband and father to your children.
“You will undoubtedly become known as the pipe-smoking deacon of the Fens, the eccentric cleric who drives an ancient yet rugged Land Rover Defender which is practically falling apart. A little eccentricity works well for all ministers of religion, but make sure that not too much eccentricity develops, for that is disastrous for all ministers of religion.
“Hear well the words that will be spoken when I present you with the book of the Gospels: ‘Receive the Gospel of Christ, whose herald you now are. Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.’ Amen.”
Following the Mass, the community celebrated together with a shared buffet in the Cathedral gardens, reflecting the joyful spirit of the day.
Pictured above, from the left, are Bishop Emeritus Alan Hopes, Fr Tony Shryane, Dcn Paul Raynes, Fr David Finegan and Bishop Peter Collins.
Full photo gallery and recording of the Mass below.