From Mr Adrian F. Sunman
Sir, - I was sorry to read the letter from the retired vicar's
9 August) lamenting the lack of opportunities for ministry in
their retirement parish.
Most incumbents enthusiastically welcome the services of retired
clergy to help lighten what can be a heavy load. It is fair to say
that the Church of England would collapse if their assistance
wasn't available. It is not clear from the lady's letter, though,
whether her husband has actively volunteered his services or
passively awaited an invitation to officiate.
I suggest that she and he arrange a timed appointment to discuss
matters with the incumbent or priest in charge of the church where
they worship. It may be that he or she might genuinely be unable to
offer any work at present, but will almost certainly know a
colleague in a parish near by who is struggling and would be glad
It may be that the diocese has an organisation for retired
clergy which could put her husband in touch with other people in a
similar position and possibly suggest openings for ministry.
Perhaps that is something that could be investigated.
Any new phase in life, be it a change of school or job or,
retirement, requires a period of adjustment for getting used to new
routines and opportunities. At such times, perhaps the best advice
is to be patient and not lose heart but try and stay
ADRIAN F. SUNMAN
1 Lunn Lane
Newark, Notts NG23 7LP
Sir, - Fortunate the priest and his or her spouse if they are
really welcomed into their retirement parish!
I retired 11 years ago, and my wife and I worshipped in the
parish church for about four years. Never once was I asked to
celebrate the eucharist or to preach during this time - even though
I remember being told at college (in the 1960s) that every parish
will make an altar available for a retired priest at least once a
When the incumbent and assistant curate were both off ill at the
same time, the churchwardens were cancelling services. Asked by
members of the congregation why I had not offered to take
services,I had to reply that they, the churchwardens, had told me
that I was not wanted.
Having been a rural dean before retirement, I always welcomed
those retired clergy in the deanery who wished to attend chapter
meetings. What did I find when I retired? I attended a meeting of
the deanery chapter (having heard of it at third hand) only to be
told by the Rural Dean: "I shall not start this meeting until you
go." See how these Christians love one another!
I was fortunate in being asked by a priest in another diocese (I
live on the border) to help during the interregnum, as he was about
to move. His successor has continued to make me welcome.
Although there have been two changes of incumbent in the parish
where I reside, I still have never been invited to anything.
Name & Address Supplied