The View from the Vicarage
As your Vicar I am often asked about what I do all day, of course the idea being that Vicars only work one day per week! I guess the question is often asked with tongue in cheek aware of the background suggestion that TV clergy seem to have an idyllic and often interesting relaxed lifestyle. Just think of the Vicar of Dibley, Fr Brown, Fr Ted, Sidney on Grantchester and Adam Smallbone in Rev to name only a few. Perhaps we need to remember that this is fiction, and what they appear to do in their respective fictional programmes is entertainment for us. Sleuthing clergy, meddling in murders and mystery, fun and frolics in Dibley and sorting out crime in Grantchester is not, I hasten to add, the norm for most clergy in the real world. So, this begs the question, what does Fr Paul do with his time in Kirton, Fosdyke and Algarkirk?
My average working week runs from Tuesday to Sunday with one full day off per week on a Monday. I try to be at my desk from 8am each morning to sort out emails and write the weekly Newsletter which covers the three churches and congregations that I am responsible for – Kirton, Fosdyke and Algarkirk and to catch up on any pressing and vital correspondence.
I open the Church in Kirton at around 8:30am each morning ready for the daily service of Morning Prayer at 9:00am when I am always joined by parishioners. On Thursdays, we also have a celebration of the Holy Eucharist at 9:30am followed by coffee for around 15 – 20 people. On two days in the week I also offer a short and simple Celtic form of Midday Prayer in Fosdyke and Algarkirk Churches, here around 6 – 8 people sing, pray and reflect on the theme of the day or season being commemorated. Of course, every evening we close the day with the service of Evening Prayer at 5:00pm before going on to various evening Church Council meetings or local events.
Most days I have a list of pastoral visits to perform across the three parishes, these encompass home visits for the elderly and housebound, hospital visits to Pilgrim Hospital in Boston. Each month in the afternoon we offer worship and Holy Communion to the Nursing Homes within the wider parish, with many other visits to take Holy Communion to a group of regulars who either live alone or in the sheltered housing schemes of the parish and who cannot now attend Church.
Our Churches are well used for baptisms and funerals as well as marriages, and so each bereaved family is visited and funeral services arranged, families are interviewed for Baptisms and time is spent with couples as they prepare for their upcoming marriages, all in all a busy and full working week.
Beyond the pastoral duties of a parish priest, I have many other duties connected to the fabric of our historic and ancient Churches and their maintenance, plus as the Vicar of three parishes, I also sit on several ancient charitable foundations that care for and manage alms houses, care for the poor and support several worthy causes. I never get bored, what with school assemblies and class work, school visits into Church, talks given here and there, and the unexpected calls on my time that seem to occur with great regularity. So, I never have time to do I all I would want to do in an average week – frequently working over 60 hours a week. In 2018 we celebrated some 5 Marriages and two marriage blessings, some 35 Funerals and 25 Baptisms with many exciting opportunities to serve the wider community.
My actual Sunday duties are probably the lightest and easiest of all my working week with at least two or more services attended by some 50 – 60 people and being totally honest I can say hand on heart, being a parish priest is a vocation I love and really enjoy most of the time!