There was spontaneous applause. Not so common in churches then, the
congregation broke out into clapping directly after the ordination. The
volume of this almost matched the shout that went out when the Rt Revd
Donald Snelgrove had asked before the ordination, "Is it, therefore,
your will they should be ordained as Priests?" And the congregation
replied with a resounding, "It is".
There was a lot of hugging and
a lot of tears. Tears of happiness, tears of relief, tears for the
generations before us that hadn't had this privilege.
But in the
midst of all this there was something else, and this is the emotion for
which I can't find the right words. It was immensely humbling.
Offering yourself up to follow in the footsteps of all the Priests that
had gone before you, feeling their hands on your shoulder as you were
ordained. Those who had been part of that journey with you gathering
the closest round you so that when you looked up having been prayed for,
it was them that you saw first. There was a feeling of unworthiness.
Of not being 'holy' enough, of not being Godly enough, of not being
worthy of all that lay ahead. And yet alongside that was a sense of
God's Grace, an infilling of the Holy Spirit. A fulfilling of a
calling, a vocation. One that had been tried and tested by the Church
and was now coming to pass. A sense of Jesus presence with you. I have
not done this feeling justice but it has carried me through 25 years as
And then there are the more 'earthly memories' of that
day. Dripping chocolate ice-cream down my front as I walked through
York to the Minster, killing time. Our retreat had taken place earlier
as we joined with those who were to be ordained the following weekend.
There were just too many of us to get all our friends and parishoners
into the Minster in one go so I had stayed with Revd Olivia Lambert the
night before my ordination. Olivia was to be ordained the next weekend
and to our amazement some years later we became colleagues in Hull! I'm
fairly sure I was the only one hiding chocolate ice-cream stains under
my cassock and surplice – one way to keep me humble!
memory was of the mad dash back to Hull. Manchester United were playing
Chelsea in the FA Cup Final that day at the new Wembley and some of the
guests wanted to get back to watch it. My future husband, Gary was
driving the minibus. One of the passengers said she had prayed all the
way through the service in the Minster and then even harder all the way
back in the flying minibus! The local fire-station had cooked jacket
potatoes for everyone and we watched MU (Manchester United, not Mothers'
Union) win 4-0.
A lot had been made of me being the youngest
candidate ordained in York, and perhaps that's why my celebrations were
rounded of with a big disco at Sutton Golf Club where we danced the
Just as moving as what had happened in the Minster
though, was the next morning when I celebrated my first Holy Communion
in St Aidan's Church, East Hull. As I offered up the bread – "The body
of Christ broken for you." Then held up the wine – "The blood of Christ
shed for you". And as I looked out at my precious flock I felt such an
overwhelming feeling of love, and that has never left me. And to end
the service with the words, "The Lord bless you..." nearly reduced me to
That feeling came back to me years later when I was
helping prepare the Revd Jackie Doyle-Brett for her ordination as
Priest. We were going through the logistics of what you do when you
Preside at Communion but we had to keep pausing. She said she couldn't
get the words out because she had waited so long to say them. She was
expressing with tears what I couldn't put into words on my ordination
day – an overwhelming sense of privilege to be called to such a role,
coupled with an incredible humility that I should be so blessed.