“Whatever you do, Patrick,” remarked Chancellor Hywel Davies, my kindly old vicar when I
was Curate of St Peter’s, “keep away from the other parish.” When someone tells us to do
something, we are often tempted to do the opposite – and twenty years ago this week I was
inducted by Bishop Huw Jones as the new vicar of ‘the other parish’. Since then, there have
been four Bishops of St Davids, four Archdeacons of Carmarthen and four Vicars of St
Peter’s, while you have been stuck with me (though several admirable curates and kindly
retired clergy and other colleagues have added a bit of variety). There have been some
difficult patches: the collapse and closure of St David’s Church, the severe illnesses of two of
my daughters (one of whom recently returned to hospital), and a series of heart-attacks
which have slowed me down considerably. Even so, during my time in the parish I’ve
managed to write 8 books (5 for adults and 3 for children), and have also, much to my own
surprise, become one of the Anglican Communion’s few experts on Armenian Christianity.
Far more important though has been the privilege of getting to know so many wonderful,
kind and generous-hearted people. We have shared a great many delightful moments (the
amazing walk from Carmarthen to St David’s, Diane Dunbar’s valiant attempt to teach me to
line dance, and the late Mrs Hilda Over’s encounter with a banana split are three that
immediately spring to mind). Parish ministry is an extraordinary mixture of joy and sadness,
which brings clergy into touch with people at the most significant moments in their lives.
Like every other cleric, I’ve sometimes made mistakes that haunt me still, but by the grace
of God there have been other occasions when I seem to have got it right. I’m very grateful
to you for putting up so patiently with your absent-minded pastor for so long.
I’ve spent the last two weeks in hibernation (lockdowns don’t lend themselves to traditional
holidays), and I’m extremely grateful to my wonderful colleagues in our ministry team for
the way in which they’ve looked after things. A recent sadness was the death of Canon
Haydn Rowlands from Covid, and my next Welsh-language letter will be a tribute to that
remarkable priest, editor and poet. We shall miss him greatly.
SERVICES (all on Zoom): Wednesday 3 February (St SEIRIOL’S DAY) 10.30am HOLY EUCHARIST
(readings p.284); Sunday 7 February (CANDLEMAS/FEAST OF THE PRESENTATION transferred) 9am
CANDLEMAS FAMILY EUCHARIST (children’s readings); 5pm EVENING PRAYER; Wednesday 10
February 10.30am HOLY EUCHARIST; Sunday 14 February (QUINQUAGESIMA) 9am HOLY
EUCHARIST (readings p.72); 11yb CYMUN BENDIGAID (darlleniadau t.72); 5pm EVENING PRAYER