I first discovered the Sodality in December 2017 when a first year ordinand (St Augustine’s, in Kent). The Sodality were offering a day of prayer and worship at St Saviour’s Pimlico;
ordinands and deacons were welcomed and if wanting to serve, one needed simply to turn up with cotta and cassock. This wonderful, open invitation, alongside the announcement that Mark Oakley was speaking on Poetry of Preaching made my heart leap, and I signed up, not really knowing what I was heading into! I don’t think I have missed a London based meeting since and each time I have joined the gatherings, and in more recent times our zoom meet ups, there has been a deeper experience of homecoming.
I say homecoming; not with a sense in anyway that being part of the Sodality is exclusive as a family unit or in terms of place of gathering, but homecoming in the sense of nurture, comfort and hospitality in worship, prayer, study and
friendship that equips me (and I assume others) to fulfil our calling to serve. Amongst the Sodality we know and are known by one another as Brothers and Sisters in Christ, we are here with one shared purpose; to grow spiritually into the priests we are called to be. Priests steeped in scripture, tradition and reason, informed by living relationships with each person of the Trinity, Mary, Mother of God and all the Saints.
Our time together offers friendship, nurture, teaching but most crucially a sending out sustained to weave our story into the story of the wider Church as Holy Catholic priests. We have a shared pattern of life rooted in the Divine Offices and communal and individual study and guided by a community Ordo. For me there could not be a better way to develop sustainability and sustenance for my own spirituality in the midst of an otherwise busy and demanding call to the (hopefully soon to be!) priesthood.
When I first began to discern a call to the priesthood, I found myself having a deep pull to the monastic life. However, I realised quickly that I also had a very real call to be a husband and father.
Over the years I explored various dispersed communities, but none of them ever really warmed my heart. At some point in 2016, I discovered the Sodality through Facebook. I downloaded, then printed the first version of the Manual and quickly fell in love. I was certain that it was impossible for an American to join formally, so I contented myself with reading the manual alone. Last year, I had the good fortune to spend a fortnight in residence at Canterbury Cathedral and during that time my longing for committed priestly fellowship reawakened. When I returned, I printed out copies of the 2018 Manual and gave them to a handful of priests in my diocese thinking that even if we could not join formally, that perhaps we could order our common lives here based off of the Sodality model. And then early this spring I inserted myself into a Twitter conversation between Father Cody Maynus and Father Richard Peers; what followed was a whirlwind of Zoom calls and emails. The next thing I knew I was praying Vespers at noon and on Saturday praying the rosary with siblings in Christ across the globe.
In the Sodality I have found a serious desire to grow in holiness and to be formed more deeply as priests; but more than that I have found joy and mutual affection.
I am not sure that I ever imagined that I could so thoroughly feel a part of a group of people, most of whom I have never met in person. I am very grateful for this Sodality, the welcome it has offered to me, and I am looking forward to walking with each of you as priests devoted to Christ Jesus, his Mother, and his Church.
I came across the Sodality in the first year of my Ordination training. Our Blessed Mother Mary had and continues to be instrumental in my calling to the Priesthood. I first experienced her beautiful heart in a dream back in early 2013. I prayed for the first time in years for God to show me what I was supposed to do with my life because I was lost, I did not know myself anymore. I felt I was in a pit that I could not get out of.
Blessed Mary put her arms around me and guided me into a temple and pointed to a huge statue of her Son. I looked up but I could not see any further than his waist. She pointed to His feet and I looked, a cross began to glow, the light engulfed me and I woke with purpose and drive for the first time in a long time. Her guidance continued throughout my training and during this last year I have felt a strong calling to be part of the Sodality, to be with others who have had their hearts touched by hers.
I am thankful and grateful to be part of this community who walk together, our hearts guided by the two hearts.
The Sodality is a place where love is expressed through worship, commitment, and joy. This is where my heart longs to dwell through my continuing formation and training.
I started going to my home church, St John and St James in Bootle when I was 7. The only reason I started to go was because I was attending Brownies and you had to go to church parade. So that was it and I carried on. My church is evangelical and this is the tradition in which I have grown up. I came to faith at a Billy Graham event in Anfield when I was 13.
In 2008, my daughter and I went to a New Wine camp in Newark and went each year until 2013, when it stopped being at Newark. Also, my daughter, then 13, had outgrown this event. It was around this time that I was discerning a call to ordained ministry. As part of this, I was able to spend some time at St John’s Tuebrook. I thoroughly enjoyed the Anglo-Catholic style of worship and knew that I wanted to explore this further. I also knew that the Eucharist was central to my faith and enjoyed being able to receive each week at St John’s.
I began to go on a weekend individually guided weekend retreat each year, first at Loyola Hall in Prescott. When it closed, I then went to St Beuno’s in North Wales. Whilst on retreat in these Jesuit retreat houses I discovered St Ignatius, contemplative prayer, Lectio Divina and the Examen. I also particularly enjoyed the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and found this time in the chapel to be really special, peaceful and holy. I also developed an interest and love of Our Lady. I purchased rosary beads some time ago from the Liverpool Anglican Cathedral, but hadn’t used them.
I became a Reader and as part of my training I spent time with the St Luke in the City team and attended Open Table at St Bride’s. As a social worker, I am already inclusive and antioppressive practice is embedded into all that I do. This time at St Bride’s was very special and I met a lot of interesting people and this increased my knowledge of inclusive church. Finally, after a long journey, I went to a BAP last June in Ely. I was recommended to train as a Self-Supporting Priest. I have enjoyed a wonderful placement at St Margaret of Antioch in Liverpool and further developed my interest and love of the Anglo Catholic tradition. Interestingly, my husband is Roman Catholic.
I have realised that I wish to explore this in more depth and I got in touch with Father Richard and had a meeting with him. He then introduced me to the Sodality of Mary and Universalis – a wonderful app! I feel that I am moving away from my evangelical roots and will need to discern carefully about where my curacy will be. I am happy to be on this spiritual journey and feel that I am learning so much day by day.