Monday, 15 September 2014

Welcome to our chaplain - Part 2

Fr Michael Manning, O.Carm joined the National Shrine of Saint Jude as Chaplain last month. Here he tells us a bit about himself:

“I was born, brought up and schooled in Cambridge. After school, my first job was in the hotel industry, where I lived and worked at the Blue Boar Inn, Cambridge. After a few years there, I eventually left Cambridge in 1973 moving to Germany to work for the American part of NATO. I lived in Germany for eighteen  years, but as time went on, I was starting to discern for a new journey.

In 1984 I became a Catholic and this was followed by a term of discernment to discover what God was asking of me. I joined the Benedictines for four years, but this did not work out, and I left before solemn vows spending the next two years avoiding discernment and the call back to religious life. However through a colleague, I discovered the Carmelite Order and Aylesford.

I became a novice of the Order on 7 September 1991 in Aylesford. As part of the formation as a Carmelite Friar you undertake a grounding in Carmelite spirituality and the history of the order, followed by studies appropriate to your future role in the order.  For my first few years, I was based in the English Martyrs church and obtained a Diploma in Pastoral Theology from Heythrop college, moving then to the Missionary Institute, London armed with a degree in Theology.  I was ordained a Deacon in English Martyrs, Walworth.

My first appointment was to St Winfried’s in Aberystwyth and on 9th June 1999 on the feast of St Columba, I was ordained a Priest, in Borth, just outside Aberystwyth. The parish had never had an ordination in their 125 years which they celebrated in 1999, so it was a double occasion. After ministering in Aberystwyth, I then moved to York as Chaplain to the University for three years taking on the ministry of Fr Tony Lester who had been elected Prior Provincial.

Many people who visit the National Shrine of Saint Jude will already know me from Aylesford, where I moved to next. I was in Aylesford for a number of years ministering to pilgrims, guests and community as well as developing a liking for retreat ministry both in Aylesford and further afield.

Outside my work in the Order, I am an enthusiastic historian and an “amateur art historian” as well as a member of the National Trust. I am looking forward to discovering some of the National Trust properties in this part of Kent.

Thank you to everyone for the welcome I have received since arriving here in Faversham. I am looking forward to meeting you all.  Be assured of my prayers for you before Saint Jude and I would ask the same of you."