Rite of Passage


On this day 55 years ago, 21st November 1959, Bishop Ralph Hawkins confirmed me into the Anglican Church in St Mildred’s Church in Tenterden. This was the first time I wore long pants – my new school uniform, in fact. Bishop Ralph preached on the unlikely theme of ‘Motherhood’, earnestly admonishing us to love the three Mothers, our earthly Mother, our Motherland Australia, and God. A feminist sermon before its time. I remember nothing of this sermon, but my mother (earthly mother) reminded me of it frequently!

My grandmother had prepared me for confirmation using the Scripture time at school for this catechesis. I don’t think I was a good student. I got stuck on the first question in the catechism, ‘Question: What is your name? Answer: N or M.’ I made absolutely no sense of this.

Bishop Hawkins prayed:

Defend, O Lord, this thy servant with thy heavenly grace,
that he may continue thine for ever,
and daily increase in thy Holy Spirit more and more
until he come to your everlasting kingdom.

And I, as I had been taught, answered,

Amen.

St Mildred’s in Tenterden
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Author: Ted Witham

Husband and father, Grandfather.Franciscan, writer and Anglican priest.

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