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Eligibility for ordination after the age of 63

10 August 2012


Sir, - May I add to the recent correspondence about the age of ordinands? (Letters, 20 July).

Some years ago, I felt I had a call to ordination, but I am married after divorce, and I did not feel able to submit myself to the intrusive and intimidating enquiries that are deemed necessary for people in that situation who seek ordination. I therefore put myself forward for Reader training, and was licensed as a Reader seven years ago.

Although I have found Reader ministry immensely rewarding and a great privilege, I continued to feel the call towards ordination. A few months ago, I made prelimin­ary enquiries with my diocese, only to be told that no one would be con­sidered for ordination who would be 63 or over at the expected date of ordination. I am now 67.

The reason given for this rule is that, since priests are obliged to retire at 70, the Church needs to be able to expect seven years' service to justify the cost of training an or­dinand.

Leaving aside my own case - I am well aware that I might well not have been sent to a Bishops' Ad­visory Panel, even had I been ten years younger - it seems a very shortsighted policy. Many older people offering for ordination would be self-supporting after their training; and many could probably fund the cost of their training.

The Church, especially in rural areas, relies heavily on the services of retired clergy. Why turn down people offering themselves for ordination solely on account of their age?

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