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Parish letter



From the ‘now’ retired priest


Dear Friends

 Many of you will already know that at the end of June I ‘transformed’ from a licensed priest to a ‘retired’ priest with Permission to Officiate.  Thank you to everyone who came to St. Mary’s Chieveley on Thursday 29th June not only to celebrate with me but also to give thanks for everyone who is answering God’s call in their lives, serving in our churches and in the world, contributing in so many different ways to the life and witness of our churches across the benefice and building God’s Kingdom through our daily lives at work and at home. It was a wonderful service led by Bishop Andrew, the Bishop of Reading, who presented me with my ‘Permission’, which I discovered extends across the whole of Berkshire, unlike my previous Licence which focussed on the Benefices of East and West Downland. I wonder where my ministry will take me as a result? 

 You may be wondering what Retirement might mean for a volunteer priest.  Unlike my colleagues who live in houses provided by the church, I will not be moving away.  And retirement does not mean I stop being a priest, though I will be reducing my regular commitments, especially at weekends, in order to be able to spend more time with my family, most of whom live in London.

 50 years ago, most people were not expected to live more than a few years after they retired but with better health care, an increased life expectancy means that on average we can all expect to enjoy 20 years or more of active life after retirement.  How to make worthwhile use of this new phase of life?  What I am trying to do with some of my time is to pass on whatever experience and insight I have gained (for what they are worth) particularly in relationship to the rural church and also community action. 

 In this time of austerity, when our local government is unable to offer the range of support we might wish, volunteering, in whatever capacity, has become vitally important to the flourishing of our communities. Whether it is offering transport to people in need, helping at the local library, working in a charity shop, running a local youth or sports club, or helping at a community breakfast (Try Tea and Toast in Chieveley!) there are so many ways of using our life experience to help others. And at the same time we can meet other people and have fun.

 Retirement doesn’t have to mean the end of doing something useful or interesting.  It can be liberation – freedom to enjoy doing something different that really makes a difference for others.

 

 Yours in Christ, Denise

 

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