Scenes from Clerical Life (6) – Vicar General
Next week I will be in London, and one of my visits will be to the office of the Diocese in Europe in Wesminster, where I will catch up with my friends and colleagues with whom I worked for many years when the Bishop of Gibraltar appointed me as his Vicar General. The title is not common in the Anglican Church, though it is so in the Roman Catholic Church. It simply means one who can act with the authority of the Bishop when that is delegated to him.
So after my “apprenticeships” in Turkey and Sweden, I found myself in London, charged with running the Diocesan Office and responsible, under the Bishop, for over two hundred churches, large and small, throughout the Continent of Europe. From a pretty tiny office in Kensington, and then a slightly larger one in Westminster, I administered the Church of England Chaplaincies from Norway in the west to Turkey in the east, and from Russia in the north to Morocco in the south. (Yes, I know Turkey and Morocco are not in Europe, but someone had to look after the English churches there).
During my time as Vicar-General (when I also had the exotic title of Archdeacon of Europe – talk about folie de grandeur! ) I visited almost all the chaplaincies for all sorts of reasons: to institute a new priest; to represent the Bishop when some special event was being celebrated; sometimes, sadly, to deliver a rocket to a Vestry (or a chaplain) if the Bishop felt they needed some “godly admonition” but didn’t feel quite up to delivering it himself. And sometimes, of course, I went just because it was cold and rainy in London and lovely and warm in Spain!