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Welsh language and culture at St Michael’s College, Llandaff

30 May 2014


From Anne Greig
Sir, - The description by the Revd Robert Charles (Letters, 23 May) of his time at St Michael's College, Llandaff, was a snapshot of a different era, some 50 years ago.

The idea that students then were under no pressure to participate in Welsh classes is reminiscent of a time long gone, when many Welsh people were still respectful of their allegiance to a country that had for centuries negated Welsh language and culture so thoroughly, by laws and deeds, that most Welsh people were no longer willing to assert themselves.

Today, Wales is a bilingual country, in the main proud of its language, culture, and heritage. While it is true that it is important to widen the appeal of St Michael's, for anyone who intends to spend three years living and studying in a country, it is more than advisable to know enough to communicate, at the least pronouncing names and places, etc., correctly, something that can take a little while to achieve.

If Welsh ordinands/trainees have to go to England to train and are not already bilingual, the extra dimension of learning Welsh (which they will more than probably need in their bilingual parishes here), and learning about Wales and its culture, will be lost to them.

It is sad that the authors of the report were unable to understand this bilingual element. If you Google "St Michael's, Llandaff", at least one hit links it firmly with the Churchof England. It isn't. It's the Church in Wales. And, while it needs to revolutionise, it doesn't need to deny its language, history, and culture to do so.

Bodawen, Llangrannog
Llandysul, Ceredigion SA44 6SH

From the Revd Manon Ceridwen James
Sir, - The Revd Robert S. J. Charles writes that "the current emphasis on the Welsh language and culture" could be one of the reasons for the so-called "demise" of St Michael's College, Llandaff. While not wanting to comment on the current review of training (we are currently formulating our own diocesan response), I find it astonishing to suggest that an autonomous Anglican Province's ministerial training should not "emphasise" the culture in which it is placed.

Should non-Church in Wales candidates be put off from studying in a Welsh college because it is "too Welsh", I offer an alternative view. Britain is a multicultural society, and an appreciation and a willingness and openness to engage with other cultures and languages is an important transferable skill.

Rather than regret their time in Wales, I have heard, English ordinands have been able to use their increased knowledge of Welsh in ministry to Welsh speakers in England. Furthermore, fluency in Welsh is an essential skill for ministry in many parts of Wales. It is vital that ordinands continue to be equipped to be able to communicate the gospel and care pastorally for Welsh speakers in their own mother tongue.

In this bilingual Church, worship as well as business is conducted in the Province and dioceses in both languages. It is only fair that ordinands gain the language skills that they need to participate and minister in the Church in Wales.

St Asaph Diocesan Director of Ministry
Y Rheithordy, 2 Rhodfa Wen
Llysfaen, Bae Colwyn
Conwy LL29 8LE

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