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Scenes from Clerical Life (6) – Vicar General

2009 April 14
by Gordon Reid

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!

7 Responses leave one →
  1. The Welsh Jacobite permalink
    April 14, 2009

    “The title is not common in the Anglican Church”

    It is in England and Wales (if not elsewhere), where the Diocesan Chancellor is also Vicar General of the Diocese (and Official Principal).

    • saintclementsblog permalink*
      April 14, 2009

      This is true of the church of England also. I should have said it is not common as a priestly title.

  2. Stephen permalink
    April 17, 2009

    Father Rector, I hope you’re having a wonderful time on your journey, but I hope you’ll indulge a query that is a bit off topic.

    This coming Sunday will be marked as Divine Mercy Sunday in the RC parish in South Jersey of which I am a member. I have mixed emotions about this new feast.

    On one hand, Its a fine thing to celebrate Christ’s infinite mercy, but if we didn’t just do that in the Sacred Triduum, then I’m very confused! On the other hand, I liked the idea of this Sunday being called Low Sunday, quite simply because after we’ve announced to the world that our God became one of us, died for us, rose again, and in so doing conquered death forever-what more could we possibly add?

    I’m very curious to know your opinion of Divine Mercy Sunday, and if you think it will become widely celebrated throughout Liturgical Christendom.

    Thanks for your kind attention, Father

    • Thomas permalink
      April 20, 2009


      As a RC i celebrate the mercy of God to His people everyday through the celebration of the Eucharist and the Church that His Son founded. I do not feel that we need to pick a Sunday to celebrate what is already celebrated every day of the year.

      Sometimes the Church (RC) feels that Sundays after Easter until the start of Ordinary Time have to have a title attached to it. I prefer just to have a Sunday devoid of any special title.

      I hope that The People of God, and I use this term rarely, understand and realize that His Mercy is with us everyday through the death of His Son. So many people do not feel His mercy, His caring love, His grace that permeates our everyday lives.

      I hope and pray that we, all baptized believers, grow in His mercy and love everyday not just on a Sunday.

  3. Bob Glassmeyer permalink
    April 18, 2009

    Dear Stephen,

    As a fellow RC, I think I can identify with your feelings about Divine Mercy Sunday. It seems to me that the Triduum Sacram is THE celebration of the Mercy of God par excellence. Maybe having Divine Mercy Sunday could be situated during a different time of the year?

    In some ways I think it detracts from the Octave of Easter – no disrespect to the Divine Mercy feast itself or to those who promote it. Sometimes I think too much is made of that feast. Same with the “Luminous” mysteries of the Rosary. It was fine before JPII had to tinker with it, again, no disrespect to him. I can’t figure out why we RC’s have to continually screw with things that ought to be left alone.

  4. Thomas permalink
    April 20, 2009


    I have yet to pray the Rosary using the new mysteries give to us by the late John Paul 2 the Great, and I say that cause he was a great man and loving Pontiff. I think that JP2 wants us to experience a new love of an old devotional. I have spent hours lost in prayer using the Rosary to make a contact with God. It is not how many Hail Marys or Our Fathers that get you closer to Him in prayer, it is the experiences of His Son that you visualize and contemplate that do the trick.

    John Paul 2 was one who took his holy office to greater heights and brought Christ to every continent. I feel that since his passing, the new Holy Father is not at all able to fill in John Paul’s shoes. JP2 was a dynamic figure who realized that our faith is slipping away and he used every venue he could to make is seem new and not old, to realize the richness of it and what it has to offer us while we are on earth.

    Use what we have to bring yourself deeper to the mysteries of Christ and what He has achieved for His people.

  5. April 21, 2009

    I agree the new Divine Mercy Sunday seems oddly placed and would be better in a penitential season in my view. Nonetheless I believe it was part of the “revelation” to Sister Faustina that the feast be on that day.

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