And the stories of how God called them are many and varied.
The Bishop of Durham, The Rt Revd Paul Butler, invited Premier’s Northern Correspondent Ian Britton to meet the Diocese of Durham’s new priests and hear some of their ordination stories.
Jacqui Tyson is Sunderland born and bred. She has had a very varied work career including bar work, shop work, youth work and office work but it was fostering, working in special schools, and later for social services in residential care for children with learning disabilities that brought her to thinking about God.
She said: “It has been a huge challenge to accept and respond to my vocation if I’m honest and it still is to some extent. I had so many excuses. Things like this don’t happen to people like me, I thought. God doesn’t call people like me. Except they do, God did, and here I am.”
Alistair Hodkinson grew up in Tynemouth before going to study Music at Durham University. Originally a Methodist, while he was at university he was drawn into the life of the Church of England through attending the daily Eucharist Service in Durham Cathedral.
He said: “The plan was to join the Army as a musician, but soon I felt a sense of vocation to the Sacred Priesthood. With that in mind, I decided to follow where God seemed to be leading me and, after graduation, I worked as a Pastoral Assistant for a year in Central London and then in Newcastle. I trained for ordained ministry at St. Stephen’s House, Oxford, and am currently serving my Title in the parish of Auckland St Helen.”
Lesley Sutherland was born in the North East and lived in Hetton le Hole before going to Oxford University. She qualified as a barrister in family law and practiced for 28 years before turning to ministry.
She said: “For many years I had an attraction to church which I didn’t understand; I loved the music, the liturgy, the culture of church but would not admit to the existence of God. In 2005, I had a full-blown religious experience whilst getting married; by the end of the service God had spoken to me, telling me that I was to offer myself for ordination. It took me another seven years of attempting to bargain with God before I understood I had to do it.”
They were ordained Priest by the Bishop of Durham, The Right Reverend Paul Butler in Durham Cathedral at 5.00pm on Saturday 1 st July 2017
Click below to hear Jacqui, Alistair and Lesley sharing their stories with Premier’s Northern Correspondent Ian Britton.
Picture credit: Keith Blundy
Written by: Miriam Emenike
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