ON THE FEAST OF ST PATRICK, forty years ago today, I was presented by my parish priest, Warwick Ariel Jones, for Confirmation by Gerald Alexander Ellison, Lord Bishop of Chester, at St Mark, Claughton. I remember the occasion clearly, can recall fellow candidates, Sunday School lessons, training as an altar server, chorister and lector, and some of the Confirmation preparation sessions – if not quite all of the content!
I remember the encouragement from my parents, grandparents, godparents, uncles, aunts, siblings, cousins, headmaster and school-teachers – on “your special day”. I remember the little party afterwards and the wonderful scent of the brand new, boxed, black leather-bound copy of The New English Bible that was the gift of my parents. And I realise, forty years on, plain as a pike-staff, that the debt we owe to those who have mothered us in the faith is quite simply incalculable.
My then bishop and his successor, my parish priest and many of the fellow pilgrims of my youth, are now in the nearer and deeper presence of the Fount and Source of all of our lives. Little did I know on St Patrick’s Day in 1972 that eucharistic worship ever after would bring me into conscious awareness of the continuing presence in my life of all such saints.
I’m not sure I fully understood in 1972 what Resurrection really means – and I know in 2012 that higher, deeper, broader and wider understanding is yet to be revealed. Nevertheless I’ve lived enough resurrection to know that our Easter celebration is precisely about all that I’ve been recalling.
Our approaching Easter celebration is about Life – that of Jesus of Nazareth, and that of each and every member of our humankind – your life and mine. Easter is about the reality of our being eternally drawn, every one of us who live – or who ever lived – in this world, home to the fullness of the Heart of Love from Whom we came, and in Whom we live now and forever.
Confirmation, by The Right Reverend Gerald Alexander Ellison, Lord Bishop of Chester
St Mark Claughton, St Patrick’s Day, Friday 17 March 1972
this photograph made on Sunday 19 March 1972 by Churchwarden Miss Joan Gray
LtoR back: Alan Morris, Phyllis Kell, Helen Whitehead, The Reverend Warwick Ariel Jones, Elaine Peers, Julie Barker, Paul Fryer, front: Simon Marsh, Paul Cooper & Peter Lloyd