After much consideration, I have decided that it is time that I retire.
As most of you know that over the years I have struggled with illness, the progress of which leaves me very little remission.
This illness that is troubling me is very difficult to overcome, even if God has Himself shown us that suffering can be a source of life. However, I no longer have the strength to carry out my priestly ministry in the way I would like because of the fatigue and distress I feel most of the time, and so, in the words of Nunc Dimittis, I pray: ‘Lord, now lettest Thy servant depart in peace’ Luke 2:29.
I have spoken to Bishop Martin and have let him know that it is my intention to retire as of Easter 2017.
It is hard for me to say goodbye to you, especially as not all of you are ready to accept my departure. It is probable that I will disappoint some of you and others will rejoice at my going. But be sure that what I am doing will be I hope for the good of the Upper Alde Benefice. I hope that your Christian love and compassions will allow you to accept my decision.
For 17 years I have been Rector of the Upper Alde Benefice. Through these long years, we have forged links together; I have known deep joy, many consolations in the midst of tribulations. In this moment of emotion, my strongest feeling is one of love and gratitude. I give thanks to God for having covered my priestly service with His overflowing love. Even in my trials, He has given me at the present time, I see myself as ‘a beloved disciple of the Lord’, for, as the Apostle Paul says, ‘My strength is made perfect in weakness’ II Cor. 12:9. This love in Christ is shown most vividly and concretely through you, my brothers and sisters, who have shared in my joys and sorrows and have supported me. We have lived through so much together. We have prayed together, worked together for our common enlightenment and sanctification. Together we have hoped in the Lord, together we have received Jesus Christ in Communion, building up through time the holy Church of the living God.
I thank God for you all as we have joined together at the Lord’s Table. You all have a place in my heart. You are the bedrock of our church here in this small part of Suffolk, building it up day by day to be a living and harmonious body, able to sing with one voice and one heart the most glorious Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
I also thank the Lord for my confidential, discreet and effective friends and workers, who have been driven by a spirit of service and self-giving, who have helped and surrounded me during the years in this Benefice.
Finally, I thank the Lord for all of you, my brothers and sisters, the beloved faithful of this place with whom I have always discussed, made projects, shared moments of friendship, adding all those whom I have met, one time or another, during my many pastoral visits in the parishes and communities. I’m grateful to you and, like the Apostle, ‘I cease not giving thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers’ Eph. 1:16.
While we are speaking of gratitude and love, how can we not also mention forgiveness? I am aware that, in public debates and private discussions, and also in pastoral decisions, certain people have been offended or hurt: the message of truth and faithfulness to the Tradition of the Church is not always welcome; it involves suffering for the hearer and often for the speaker. I have at times made mistakes; no one among us is infallible.
I am aware of my own weaknesses, I ask God and all of you to pardon all that I have done wrong to.
I ask you to forgive my faults and my shortcomings and ask for reconciliation!
The Sunday after Easter April 23rd, 2017 will be my last service as your Rector, and I will then take my leave of you. How can I put into words all that I have in my heart? I am certain that my going is in response to the will of God, and that with the Lord’s help it will be good for you as well as for me. Through all sorts of tribulations, always trust and hope in the Word of God, who is the assurance of our salvation and the strength of our Church. The freedom of the Church and the universality of the faith are the two treasures that I have sought to preserve, following the example of my predecessors. And this lets us concentrate on that which, in the eyes of Christ’s disciples, was the ‘one thing necessary’: Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness’, as the Lord Himself commanded us Matt. 6:33. My last word will be to ask you to keep your love and unity. It is our Church’s most precious treasure. May the Lord deign to ‘give you the spirit of wisdom’ ‘the eyes of your understanding being enlightened, that you may know what is the hope of His calling. Eph. 1:17-18.
May God keep us and have mercy on us! May the peace of the Lord be always with you!