Richard Seabrook describes the first FiF Alternative POT Conference

and looks forward to the next

THE FIRST Post Ordination Training Conference, organised by a group from Forward in Faith, took place at the beginning of October. You will have seen advertisements in New Directions for this initiative during the year and I can report that the venture was wholly successful and much appreciated by all those who took part. We were privileged to have the Bishop of Richborough; Fr Jeremy Sheehy, Principal of St. Stephen’s House; and Mrs Janet Marshall, the Education Officer from the Shrine of O.L.W. present for the duration of the conference. In addition, Fr George Guiver from Mirfield and Fr Martin Warner, the Administrator of the Shrine of O.L.W. were with us on the Thursday to share their insights into the Daily Office.

Hothorpe Hall is set in the Leicestershire countryside, not far from Market Harborough. Twelve young deacons and priests participated in the conference coming from all over the country, as far afield as Exeter and Newcastle Diocese. Hothorpe Hall was originally a place of residence of a Catholic family, now used as a Christian Conference and Retreat Centre. The Chapel, having taken a portable Church with us, was transformed for our celebration of the Daily Office and Mass. Ensuite bathrooms, excellent food, courteous and helpful staff all made for a rather comfortable backdrop.

Having experienced P.O.T. recently, the whole two days were so very different. They related theologically and pastorally to what we do in the parish. The worship wasn’t experimental, the sessions weren’t non-directional, and nobody asked us to share our pain! How very different from some diocesan P.O.T. sessions. Rather than there being tension around (which is often felt at diocesan P.O.T. courses) we were able to get on, in a relaxed atmosphere, to further our diaconal and priestly formation.

Father Jeremy Sheehy spoke to us about communion, and what it means to be in communion. He also led a session on the Pastoral Care of the Sick and Dying at which we were able to share our experiences and ask questions. Mrs. Janet Marshall got us all on the floor (!) to assist us with our classroom techniques and gave a session on preparing lessons in school and some of the principles involved in teaching religious education. Father George Guiver, complete with overhead projector, gave us a session on the history of the Daily Office and its relevance for today. Father Martin Warner took this idea one stage further and related praying the Daily Office as a way of helping our people in our parishes to pray. The Bishop of Richborough looked at the theology behind the idea of the provincial episcopal visitors and personal prelatures and looked forward to the future for the orthodox constituency with the Church.

One participant told me the two days made him feel renewed and refreshed. That was the general feeling of appreciation from everybody and a hope that the venture would be repeated next year, the conference lasting a little longer. I am pleased to announce that the Second Forward in Faith P.O.T. Conference for those ordained within the last six years will take place at Hothorpe Hall from Tuesday 4th until Thursday 6th 1997. Further details will follow. If you would like to have your name added to the list of participants for next year then please contact me.

My thanks go to all who supported this year’s conference through various ways.

Father Richard Seabrook
Assistant Priest, Hawley Green
295 Fernhill Road
Farnborough GU14 9EW

01276 34241