Rector’s Letter June 2016

Up at St. Tudno’s, visitors often ask ‘How old is this church’, and they expect to receive a straightforward answer – ‘it’s 500 years old’ or ‘it was built 800 years ago’. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to give such a simple answer because St. Tudno’s, like most ancient churches, has developed organically through the centuries with extra bits being added on occasionally and other portions replaced in a more ‘up-to-date style from time to time. The best one can say about St Tudno’s is that the oldest part of the building dates from the 12th century but that the church as we see it now is really a creation of the Victorian era. However one then goes on to tell the enquirer that there has actually been a church of one sort or another on the site since the 6th century – a millennium and a half ago. They are usually suitably impressed!

St. Tudno’s may have a long and complicated history, but at its heart it is a tale of centuries of faithful Christian worship and service. It all began when Tudno, a monk from the monastery of Bangor, who came to the Great Orme to found a new community – perhaps a ‘daughter house’ of the Bangor monastery in the sixth century. On St. Tudno’s Day we celebrate his coming to this place, the life of prayer that he began and all the centuries of Christian life here ever since.

But what we must never do on a patronal festival is to just reflect upon the past, however impressive that past has been. For me, St. Tudno is not just a figure from the remote past but a person who is alive within the Communion of Saints. I believe that he prays for us, his sons and daughters – he is truly our ‘patron’. And it is vital that we continue the ministry of this ancient church, began by St. Tudno, in a way which makes sense in the 21st century. Our particular calling at St. Tudno’s, and indeed throughout the parish, is to minister to the needs of visitors and pilgrims, and to provide a place of silence and prayer in a busy noisy world. We must pursue that vocation prayerfully with renewed energy and St .Tudno’s Day each year is a great encouragement to do just that.

Turning to a new subject, but one which is also about looking back and looking forward: I reach a new milestone in my own Christian pilgrimage this month. In June 1976, I was ordained Deacon in Chester Cathedral by Bishop Victor Whitsey. It is amazing to think that I have served for 40 years in the sacred ministry of the church, one just in Deacon’s orders, and 39 as a Priest as well. Celebrating this must be a spur to see how my ministry today and in the future continues to be in the service of Christ, Lord of the Church, who called me to his service then and continues to call me now.

Fr. John

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