Mgr Paul Grogan

Mgr Paul Grogan
Mgr Paul Grogan

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Ecumenism and Dodgeball

We had a good service to mark the beginning of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity today. My colleague, The Reverend Dr Jane De Gay, an Anglican, who is also a senior lecturer in the English Department, preached powerfully. She concluded by saying that Christ has given those of us who are baptised a common identity by clothing us with himself, quoting the line from Galatians 3 which was one of the designated readings. It was very refreshing to consider the grounds of our unity in this way eg not simply in terms of our commonality of belief (I always become uncomfortable when people minimise the significance of doctrinal differences; doctrines matter to all committed Christians) but rather in terms of an act of Christ: he has already made us members of his Church. Once we acknowledge that, as we have to after Lumen gentium, the Vatican II document about the Church, to maintain a default position of defensiveness and aloofness is not just daft, contrary to the will of Christ and insulting to those whom we recognise as our brothers and sisters, it's exhausting. I've learnt this especially through my five-and-a-half years at Leeds Trinity.  There is only a small core group of "in-your face" Christians among the members of staff and I know that my ministry would be extremely demanding if I wasn't able to count on their support. They have helped me to think outside the frame of reference provided by the Reformation and I must say I feel much the better for it!

Just after our lunch of Indian soup and naan bread and dips (the text of the service was provided by Churches Together in India) two female students burst into the Chaplaincy Lounge and exclaimed together: "You've got to come! We need an extra player for Dodgeball!" The sports development department had organised a lunchtime tournament of this sport (which I had never heard of before) and we were fielding two Chaplaincy teams. Dressed in tracky bottoms and a tee-shirt I ran on to the court with my five team-mates, not fully aware of the rules but determined to give it my best and then the opposing side bombarded me with balls and, within a few seconds, I had been eliminated.

That was bad enough but worse was to follow. Owing to the Christian Unity Service I was unable to attend a career's day at St Wilfrid's Catholic High School, Featherstone, where I was to have regaled the children with stories about my priesthood. Fr Michael Doody, our youngest priest, who recently kindly agreed to become a member of a three-priest vocations promotion team, went in my stead. "Was he all right?" I asked the lay chaplain who helped organise the event on the telephone this evening. "Oh, he was great, perfect. He spoke to three groups for twenty minutes each and then he spoke to a class for a whole hour. They were hanging on his every word. Can we have him again next year?"

Here's a picture of me and my team-mates. We lost every match, but we remained resilieintly cheerful.

No comments:

Post a Comment