Readers of this publication who served on the General Synod between its first iteration in 1970 and 1997 will have relied upon Sylvia Brantingham. She had, amongst other responsibilities, the task of managing the accommodation at the York sessions. And anybody who has tried to organise a group of clergy will know just what a challenge that must have been! She met the task with dedication and faithfulness, good grace and humour – motivated by a profound love for Jesus Christ and his Church.
It is no mistake that, in reminding the Corinthians of the different tasks in the Church to which God appoints us, Saint Paul does not neglect to mention administrators in his (far from exhaustive) list. Apostles and prophets build up the body of Christ only with the cooperation of the helpers and administrators. Sylvia was a person with these gifts. Indeed, her administrative talents were put to use for the glory of God whilst not at work too: as Churchwarden of St Pancras Old Church, and helping to organise pilgrimages to the Holy Land, Romania and Turkey.
She was also a regular pilgrim to the shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham, and her devotion to the Blessed Virgin together with daily attendance at the Mass marked her out as faithful and pious. She knew and lived the faith. And she knew what was the faith, and what wasn’t. Departures from apostolic teaching were to be regretted, but instigators prayed for, not hectored. In this she displayed the virtue of charity – that crowning gift which can be so difficult to accept from God.
But not so surprising in such a person as Sylvia. Somebody who prayed the rosary in a spare moment at work, who said the midday office regularly. A person whose life was punctuated by prayer and the sacraments. Indeed, her ministry of prayer for those in need and the priests of her parish was outstanding. This concern for others was also shown in how she welcomed every new person through the door of the church; Sylvia loved to be in God’s house worshipping Him and she wanted everybody to share that joy.
Sylvia died on the feast of Pentecost, after having received Holy Communion and the Last Rites of the Church. Jesu Mercy, Mary Pray.