What a privilege it was to be with Fr Ellis celebrating fifty years of Christian priestly ministry! Could he have imagined back then that he would celebrate the fifty years finally as a Priest of the Catholic Church? In Fr Robin's own words, we celebrated the mass in thanksgiving for God's gift of priesthood to the Church. The Mass was concelebrated by the local ordinariate clergy and also Fr Smethurst, a diocesan priest, who was also formerly Anglican. Fr Smethurst preached a helpful sermon on the lections, although in a small digression he told us that Fr Robin had instructed him to stay on the readings and not to speak about him. The chapel was almost full as friends, family and former colleagues gathered to celebrate with Fr Robin and Anne, his wife. It was great to see Anglican friends at the mass, although heart-wrenching when it came to Communion, when so many received blessings and we felt the pain of Christian disunity. Everybody pulled out the stops to make the Mass the best we could offer. Lead by our very gifted cantor, Michael, we sang the Missa de Angelis. Michael not only lead us in the setting of the mass but also sang a very beautiful Alleluia and later the Offertory. The congregation was in very good voice too and seemed very comfortable with the liturgy. I was pleased at how well the congregation seemed to cope with the Latin which for most Anglicans and former Anglicans is unfamiliar territory.
Following mass we went to The Grange, instrumental in the Abbey's important work of hospitality to all visitors, where we enjoyed a cream tea provided by Fr and Mrs Ellis. What a wonderful celebration! Thank you to Fr Robin and Ann for allowing us to share it with them.
Again conkers were on the mind of my younger children. This time they didn't want to depart without some decent sized shiny conkers. So dad had to scuff around in the leaves before we could depart for home.
Fr Ian Hellyer