Aquitaine's new chaplain to oversee 13 churches
This month a new chaplain, Reverend Tony Lomas, is being welcomed into the Aquitaine Church of England chaplaincy with an installation service at Bordeaux on September 10 officiated by the Bishop of Europe, Robert Innes.
The chaplaincy has been without a chaplain for just over a year and the congregation from the 13 churches he will be responsible for are looking forward to his appointment.
“It will be good to have someone at the helm,” said Sally Davies from the Monteton church in the Lot et Garonne. “His job is quite vast. He will have all the churches to look after which are spread over a very large area, equivalent to the size of Wales, and in which he will hold as many services as he can, plus he will chair the chaplaincy meetings and oversee the budget.”
The churches are spread over the Dordogne, Lot-et-Garonne and the Gironde. He has a strong team of 17 voluntary clergy and five readers who take services in his absence.
Mrs Davies says that many of the churches are very active: “At my church we have a service every week at a different time each Sunday. There are two weeks when there is a morning service with a choir, a prayer and praise evangelical type service on the third Sunday, Holy Communion on the fourth and if there is a fifth Sunday we have an evening service.
“There is often tea and cakes afterwards or a bring-your-own-lunch gathering at someone’s house. It makes for a lovely community and we all look out for each other.
“Most of us are retired and if someone is ill there is always help at hand to visit or mow the grass or make sure that person is looked after.”
Weddings are also very popular in the area with 45 programmed for 2016. “We live in such a beautiful place that people often like to hold weddings here. They often take the form of a blessing and though the couple may live in the UK they often choose to have a service where the bride or groom’s parents live,” said Mrs Davies who added that it is a great comfort to have church services in English that they can go to.
“It is extremely important to have a church here and we are very grateful to the mairies and Catholic priests who are very generous in allowing us to use their buildings.”
The Aquitaine chaplaincy was established in Bordeaux in 1825 when the British consuls were given the means to maintain and support ministries. Over the years it has spread to cover the whole of the Aquitaine.