Above the great golden mosaic on the back wall of Wonersh Seminary Chapel are the words that Christ spoke to His Apostles at the Last Supper, “Non vos Me elegistis, sed Ego elegi vos: You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you.”
They are words addressed to all of Christ’s faithful, of course, not just those who discern, with the Church, a vocation to the ordained ministry. But they have resonated profoundly within my own heart recently, since before the Altar underneath those engraved words, I received the sacrament of Holy Order from Bishop Alan, on December 15, and thus became a deacon. Alongside me was a student of the Diocese of Portsmouth, Johnpromise Umeozuru, with whom I study in the seminary.
In his homily, the Bishop reminded us that in so calling those whom He wills to the ordained ministry, deacons, priests and bishops should always be mindful that their purpose is to imitate the Good Shepherd, who carried the flock upon His own shoulders.
Consequently, the Lord’s ministers are called to be close to the people, and so must continually seek to understand the circumstances of their lives. Quoting the Holy Father, we are to smell like our sheep.
It is an indescribable joy to receive this sacrament, and thus to become a diaconal servant in our diocese, at the service of the Lord and of His people, working alongside and in obedience to the Bishop, who is leading all of us here in East Anglia to our Shepherd King in heaven.
I will remain in the seminary until the end of the academic year.
Pictured above is Deacon Simon Davies, right, with Bishop Alan and Deacon Johnpromise Umeozuru during Mass at St John’s Seminary.