Jonny says Goodbye, and I say Hello!
Sorry for the cheesey title but I couldn’t resist, I’m a bit of Beatles fan.
Hello I’m Joe and this is my first blog post as the Lay Chaplain. Firstly though I would like to publicly thank Jonny for the amazing work he has done here over the last 6 years and I hope that I can continue to build on these solid foundations that he has created. I thought this blog might be a good way to introduce myself to everyone and what I hope and pray for in this year. So here we go! If you would like a brief history of my existence please look here. A big focus for this year will be the Year of Faith, blog to come about how you can get involved, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to share my faith story:
As a cradle Catholic it was a while before I realised how amazing our faith is! It was at University that I really took ownership of my faith and allowed it to penetrate my heart and my life; it was also where I discerned that the career I dreamt of (acting, fame, fortune) wasn’t what my heart really wanted. My heart wanted to love and serve Christ and his Church. During my second year at University I realised what I knew about my faith was very external- I could tell you feast days, liturgical seasons and colours, the correct names for things but not what meant to me and how I lived my life. Don’t get me wrong I believed all that the church teaches but part of me really really didn’t want to. I yearned for knowledge of Jesus, and who he wanted me to be. So I went to Catechesis at the Chaplaincy- a great programme called Naked Faith that will be coming here too, more information to follow- I bought a Bible… and started reading it. I then stopped because it started getting confusing- difficult names etc… so I started again with the Gospels. I prayed daily, first in a very free manner; then adding structure with simple morning and evening prayers, the Rosary etc. I trusted in the Sacraments and the life changing power they have; as I realised this fire now burning in my heart had been started with the ambers placed there by the Holy Spirit at Confirmation. Regular Confession was difficult at first, embarrassing sometimes, however it allowed Christ’s light to show me where I wasn’t letting him in. The Eucharist and giving an extra half hour or two to go to weekday Mass had the biggest impact. St. Thomas Aquinas said that the Eucharist is different from all other foods. As other food we eat and we turn what’s good in it into us and what’s bad or not needed we get rid of. The Eucharist, Jesus, is the opposite he takes what’s good in us and turns it into him; and what’s bad or not needed gets pushed out. (Massively paraphrased). After many years, and hours in Adoration, I’m beginning to get my head round that. Jesus then led me to the University of Derby to work in the chaplaincy there for a year and now here. I’ve learnt a lot from my time in Derby and am eager to learn even more during my time here. Through these years I’ve been very blessed by the situations but mainly the people I’ve spent them with.
That was a synopsis of my faith journey… so far! We must remember that it’s not over until it’s over; it is never complete when we are down here. The greatest example of this is the Acts of the Apostles- it doesn’t have an ending, because we are still living in it!!! This year of Faith that starts on the 14th October is yet another chapter. It is an opportunity for us to look at our own faith, our own lives and ask if it is Jesus centred or me centred. To ask what does it mean to me that I am a Catholic Christian? What does it mean to my family? My friends? The people I work with? The people I spend time with? The people around me I don’t know? The people I don’t like? For us as a Community we need to ask what does it mean to the University of Nottingham that we are even here? Are we just another society, a group of people who gather together a couple times a week or walking reflections of their loving Father, Creator and Friend?
This new academic year that starts in a couple of weeks will give us new opportunities to learn, to understand, to grow. Let us not just limit this to our studies lets learn more about our faith, ourselves, our God.
So I’m Joe your new Lay Chaplain, I can’t wait to meet all of you and get to know you but most importantly to continue to grow and journey in my faith with you. My door’s always open come and say Hi!
The below photo was taken at Mass on Sunday Jonny’s last and my first! It was great to have Fr. Chris and Claire (former Chaplains here) at Mass to remind us of the previous chapters in our Communities journey as we start this new one.