This weekend, on Saturday, I had the privilege of attending in Rochester Cathedral a service for the ordination of deacons to serve in parishes around the diocese. The beautiful Normal nave of the cathedral was packed for the occasion. Being ordained as a deacon is normally the stage before ordination to the priesthood. I had a particular interest in the service as one of Bennett’s former students, Laurence Powell, was among the seven people being ordained.
It was a great and inspiring occasion involving not only the Bishop of Rochester, who carried out the ordinations, but also the bishop and archdeacon of Tonbridge, and clergy and others from around the diocese who have supported the newly ordained deacons on their journey, and their families and friends.
Bennett was represented by myself, as well as the current and former chairs of the governing body, and a former head of learning support and the teaching assistant who worked with Laurence, who has a serious visual impairment, throughout his time at school. His teaching assistant, who still works at the school with other students who have physical or other special needs, was very moved to see her former student publicly declare his faith and be ordained, and spoke to me (with at least a trace of a tear in her eye!) of her pride that he had reached this point.
As it happened, Saturday was also the traditional celebration of the ‘Exaltation of the Holy Cross’, and the sermon, preached by the retreat director who had worked with the deacons, focused on the significance and importance of the Cross as a Christian symbol – a relevant topic in these days where public debate about religious symbolism in public life is in the news almost daily.
Many congratulations to Laurence and the others ordained on Saturday. Please remember them in your prayers as they begin their formal Christian ministry in parishes around the diocese.