The evening of Saturday 27th June the curate at St Deny’s Church Liz Wilson was ordained at the Leicester Cathedral. Bishop Tim led the service and it was the first time the tomb of Richard III was open for an ordination.
A celebratory and contemplative atmosphere filled the cathedral as Bishop Tim greeted the congregation and led his last service. Liz was one of the nine men and women from around Leicestershire that were ordained in the presence of Lord Carey, formerly Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby.
Family and parishioners were there to support Liz as she walked through the cathedral and took her place. Reverend Anthony Lees-Smith accompanied Liz as the Bishop began the solemn prayer of ordination.
Other priests joined the Bishop as he anointed the palms of each of the newly ordained, which is a gesture that is traditionally understood to prepare them to handle holy things in the exercise of their ministry. As Liz rose, her intricately detailed stole was adjusted to reflect her new role as priest. A bible was then presented to Liz as a sign of her calling.
The service continued with the Liturgy of the Sacrament and concluded with the Holy Communion as the Bishop led out his newly ordained priests. Liz followed, beaming with happiness and pride. The newly ordained priest was met by her proud parents, friends and parishioners outside the cathedral.
No other words but Liz’s own can express the delight she felt as she was ordained and her reflections on her journey to priesthood.
“It had taken me six years to reach the point of ordination to the priesthood, three years of exploring, two years at theology college, a year as a Deacon, and I found myself in the foyer of St Martin’s House feeling decidedly light headed, and worried that I was going to faint!
So as I processed into Leicester Cathedral my thoughts were far from holy! Fortunately, as the service progressed, I began to feel much better, so as my fears of fainting receded, I was able to relax (a bit!), and take in my surroundings.
“It was an amazing service, and three things stick in my memory. Firstly, looking round the Cathedral and seeing lots of familiar faces smiling and waving back at me. It was incredible to turn around to face the congregation, and to receive their ascent, to be ordained a priest in God’s church. Secondly as a ‘Wilson’ I had the privilege of watching and praying for my eight colleagues, fellow Deacons and good friends being ordained to the Priesthood before me. Thirdly when my own time came, and I knelt before Bishop Tim, I could feel the hands of three priests Anthony (St Denys vicar), Allan (retired priest who worships at St Denys), and Alison (my spiritual director) upon my shoulders, almost holding me up before God.”
For me, this has been the most important point, and realisation. God has called me to be a priest, not to do this on my own, but to share in His ministry, and God does not call us alone. He calls the whole church, to build God’s Kingdom together. So over the last few weeks, as I have tried to get my head around the fact I have been ordained as a Priest (and I still can’t quite believe it). I take great comfort that I am not doing this on my own.”