I abandoned the 'Sacred Synod' on Friday before it ended; to get home to welcome four dinner guests. When they left I posted a blog for the Anglo-Catholic http://www.theanglocatholic.com/2010/09/here-we-go-round-the-mulberry-bush/
(it seems to have caused a little interest), packed for the weekend, and went to bed a little after midnight. At seven am on Saturday we were on the road to Bury St Edmunds, where I was honoured to preach for the Revd Dr Michael Peel's 5oth anniversary of priesting.
Fr Peel was on good form
Jane had found the journey rather tiring
Michael, when I first met him, was Warden of the Homes of St Barnabas in Sussex, but he already had a long and distinguished parochial ministry behind him. Also behind him, as ever, was his wife Daloni - their Golden Wedding is in two years' time.
Their sons and families supported them, as did many old friends. Fr David Palmer (now a Catholic Priest) gave one of the speeches; another was by a former Curate, Fr John Sclater (left), now a Priest Vicar of Wells Cathedral. Fr Michael himself celebrated the Mass in time-honoured Prayer Books style (albeit with Incense and some modest ceremonial).
At the end of Mass
After a great reception we drove southeast into Essex from Suffolk, to the parish of Thorpe-le-Soken. There Fr Jeremy Dowding was in mid-festival, and we joined the parish that evening for a marvellous concert - the outstandingly good Tenor, Andrew Bain, had been a chorister at St Peter's and like his fellow artist the Soprano Natasha Shipp, gave his services freely to the Church, as did also their accompanist Helen Allison.
The party that followed the concert went on in the Vicarage until three am. Jane and I made our excuses and retired around midnight. On Sunday morning, I preached at a confirmation when the one Candidate, Patricia, was supported by her daughter and grand-daughter.
It was a lovely occasion, in the church decked with flowers and produce for Harvest, and there was a large congregation. In the past year the regular communicant numbers has grown by around twenty - while all around churches are in decline. We were joined for lunch in a nearby pub by Fr Jeremy and his wife and four of his leading parishioners. When we made our getaway in mid-afternoon we headed into torrential rain and traffic returning from other weekend jollifications, so it took us four hours to cover the 190 miles home. So much for retirement - but I would sooner wear out than just rust away. You might like one or two pictures from the weekend. Below is the 16th Century tower of Our Lady and St Michael, Thorpe-le-Soken; most of the rest of the church is 19th Century rebuild.