As the years roll by I become ever more grateful to the bishop who ordained me, the ever-memorable Archbishop Antony of Geneva (+ 1993). Indeed, I can say that mystically speaking we have become closer than we were in life, even though we had first met in the early 80s. You see, with time you become ever more conscious of your debt of gratitude. The following happened this summer.
It happens to every priest from time to time. That is, ghostbusting. The last time it was in a flat in Ipswich, where the previous occupant had committed suicide. Some strange things happened and a bloodstain would not go away. Painted over, it kept reappearing. It needed a priest to resolve the problem.
This time it was in a care home for the elderly in the town of X in the county of Norfolk. I was called up by the manager who explained the situation. An elderly resident had died. Within two days doors had started slamming shut by invisible hands, just as people were about to go through them. Windows opened and closed in the same way, at any time of day or night. Things moved from one room to another mysteriously. An electric kettle would be switched on by invisible hands and boiled dry.
One morning residents had come down to the dining room and had found all the tables and chairs overturned. Worst of all the room the woman who had passed away had lived in for several years was incredibly cold, even though it was a hot summer. Carers were too frightened to enter it and none could stand the cold for more than a few seconds. There was no question of renting it out to a new resident. The manager, a Ukrainian, faced an ultimatum; either she solved the problem or else the staff would leave the home with its 24 residents, forcing it to close.
The activities had focused especially on one young woman. I asked her to wear a cross, which she was happy to do, though she was not Orthodox and did not believe in anything really. I took a list of the names of the carers and the residents and prayed for them, paying special attention to the resident who had died, whose life I enquired about and whose photo I was shown. She had been a Protestant and so had had nobody to pray for her. Then I blessed the whole home with holy water after a short service, prepared to return if necessary, praying for the repose of the soul of the elderly woman.
The next day they phoned me from the home. Everything had returned to normal.
These things happen. Those who are thinking that one day they could be ordained to the priesthood should know this. But if I had not been ordained, nothing could have been happened through me. This is why I pray for the bishop who ordained me and why I am grateful to him above all others who had ignored me.