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Archive for August, 2011

It used to be said that nothing very much occurred during the month of August and that the majority of people used the month as a time for relaxation. Perhaps it was the only holiday month in the year, whereas, today people find themselves taking holidays both summer and winter. But the Bank Holiday weekend signals that the summer is at an end. Soon the schoolchildren will return to their lessons, and the round of domestic life will resume. Hardly surprisingly we find ourselves struck by the way in which time appears to pass. Life is so busy, so frenetic, so anxious. Sometimes the seasons come around with alarming regularity, so much so that our life appear to be passing away! Not that this is the case for everyone…

Increasingly even the busiest of lives come to that stage when there is little to entertain, little to encourage, little to help. As human life gets longer and longer, there are those who find old age far less stimulating that it aught to be. Residential homes are springing up all over the place—residential homes where people are fed, kept warm and clean, but where the passage of time drags terribly. Some find their own homes to be less the place of welcome that perhaps they once were, and more prisons where the monotony and boredom and relieved by the whine of day-time television. ‘And even the experience of younger people can be far from comforting. There are any number of so-called ‘broken-families’ where the traditional times of annual celebrations, at Christmas, Easter and in the Summer, become battlegrounds over ‘who has the children’. There can be no sadder sight than such fractured families displayed in fast-food outlets, where children are being treated to the things that are probably not best for them…

In so many ways we have come to judge the quality of life by what we possess and not by what we share. Yet the truth is that our children and young people, just like our grannies and grandpas, are part of a family life which we neglect to our peril. Of course, there are any number of reasons for change—not least in such a mobile society. But perhaps the time has come to reassess our relationships one with another—perhaps a little less selfishly? The real treasures of life are those who are our dear ones and those who love us and care for us. The greatest appreciation and the most special of gifts has to be in the time we spend with them. Yes, this will prove difficult and impossible for very many in a traumatised and troubled society. But there is an alternative—one where people can feel safe, loved, protected and treasured. We might strain to bring to mind where that community exists. But, quite simply, this is precisely what the Christian Church and community is called to be.  That might prove quite a challenge, but it is a wonderful endeavour in Jesus’ name.

 

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Fr Mark Soady, who is currently Chaplain to the University of Wales, Newport, and priest-in-charge of All Saints church in Brynglas, is to leave Newport at the end of the year to become Vicar of Abergavenny and Rector of Llanwenerth. The post became vacant following Canon Jeremy Winston’s appointment as Dean of Newport Cathedral.

Fr Jeremy’s last service as Vicar of Abergavenny will be Evensong on Sunday 4th September, at 6pm, to which all are welcome.

Fr Mark Soady who has recently been appointed Vicar of Abergavenny

Fr Mark says: “I’m privileged to have been appointed to be Vicar of the Abergavenny Group of parishes. Fr Jeremy will not be an easy act to follow, but I believe my experience at St Mary’s, Tenby, and at Newport Cathedral has given me the grounding I need to build on his work.

“I will be sad to leave the University but, having developed good relationships within the University and laid a good foundation for the chaplaincy there, it is time to hand over the University Chaplaincy to someone else.”

Announcing the appointment, the Bishop of Monmouth, Rt Revd Dominic Walker OGS said: “I am delighted with the appointment of Fr Mark as Vicar of Abergavenny. He is a priest who is full of energy and wisdom and brings with him experience from his background in health care and politics. He is very much a ‘people person’ and relates well to those of all ages and backgrounds. I am grateful to Fr Mark for helping to establish the University Chaplaincy in Newport and I am sure he will build on the ministry of Canon Jeremy Winston who is moving to the city to become the new Dean of the Cathedral.”

Dr Peter Noyes, Vice Chancellor of the University of Wales, Newport, said:“On behalf of the entire University family, I would like to thank Fr Mark for his tireless work over the last three years. In everything he has done, from the joyous occasions to the support he has given to individual students and members of staff at difficult times, Mark has been a rock for Newport’s University.

“While everyone will be very sorry to see Mark move on, we are delighted that he will not be too far away and will be moving on to another exciting chapter in his work.”

Fr Mark started his ordained ministry in Tenby. He was appointed to the staff of Newport Cathedral in 2003 and has played a major part in the Cathedral’s Restoration Appeal. He was appointed the first Chaplain to the University of Wales, Newport, three years ago, serving also as priest-in-charge of All Saints in Brynglas. Before entering the ordained ministry he was a psychiatric nurse and he also served as personal assistant to the late Lord (Roy) Jenkins of Hillhead, and worked on democratisation programmes in Africa, Central & Eastern Europe.

It is expected that Fr Mark’s induction as Vicar of Abergavenny will be in the New Year. Canon Jeremy Winston will be installed as Dean of Newport Cathedral on 10 September 2011. The Installation at Newport Cathedral will be beamed ‘live’ to the Priory Centre in Abergavenny.

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Despite the depressing picture of buildings set alight recently by wayward young people in some of our large towns and cities the past week has seen the ‘A’ Level results celebrating the achievements and aspirations of a generation of focussed and intelligent youngsters. We may continue to be appalled by the wanton idiocy of rioters who, in the mind of some of us, receive a disproportionate amount of publicity over and against the remarkable dedication of young people working in the voluntary sector, to say nothing of those developing intellectual and practical skills for the benefit of humanity. Sad to say, only a few of these truly wonderful examples come to the attention of the world at large. Yet the good news is that in every century humanity has the capacity of developing far more good than bad, and far more creativity than destruction. In literature, in art and music each new generation brings us insights, fascination and wonder. But that is also true in areas of science and discovery delivering advancements in medicine and technology on what amounts to a daily basis. Alongside these developments there are depressing scenes—some of which threaten to drive us back into a type of ‘dark ages’ of constant warfare and destruction. But we cannot allow such a scenario to raise its ugly head, and the forces of good and generosity have to stand firm. Neither will it do to describe destructive activity as youthful exuberance—the burning down of people’s homes and businesses is shameful and unacceptable in any society. Nor should we assume that our political leaders possess, by right, some moral high ground. Surely, society needs constantly to look at the ways in which it cares for the needy and provides for our young people, to say nothing of respecting and loving a generation of older and older people.

There are no easy solutions. But the endeavour of human beings, whether young or not-so-young, serves to strengthen our communities and enrich our humanity.  Christians look to the founder of their faith and the Saviour of the world who not only called us to be salt to the world, and to be light in the face of gloom and darkness, but who showed over and over again that grabbing and hoarding reduces us to a depraved and ugly state of sub-humanity. But when we embrace his example of sacrifice and love we enrich the course of humanity amazingly—going the extra mile, embracing the old, the young, the sick and the poor, giving one’s shirt as well as one’s coat. This is what human beings are called to be. This, too, is what our young focussed people show over and over again that they are capable of doing.  In their successes we rejoice. But may they continue that success not by greed and possession, but by dedication, fulfilment and sharing. That will be their real blessing—and it will turn out to be ours, as well.

Fr Jeremy Winston

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