Congratulation to Stephen Talbutt who was instituted to the Ministry of Acolyte on Tuesday 24th November at Oscott College. Read below what he has written.

In Christ alone my hope is found,

He is my light, my strength, my song;

This Cornerstone, this solid Ground,

Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.

When Fr Darren asked if I would write a small piece on my journey this year on the way to being given the ministry of acolyte I wondered what to write it on? The first verse of the hymn “In Christ Alone” gave me my introduction.  My name is Stephen and I am a third year seminarian for the Lancaster Diocese, in our third year we are instituted into the Ministry of Acolyte, this will take place during Holy Mass on the 24th November.

“An Acolyte is appointed to aid the deacon and to minister to the priest at the altar and as a special minister to give Holy Communion to the faithful at Mass and to the sick. Acolytes may also expose the Eucharist for public adoration in the absence of a priest or deacon. During the institution ceremony, candidates are reminded that they will have a special role in the Church’s ministry, since the summit and source of the Church’s life is the Eucharist, which builds up the Christian community and makes it grow. The candidates are asked to show a sincere love for Christ’s Mystical Body, God’s holy people and especially for the weak and the sick."

The third year is quite a big academic year as it’s the final year of the first degree we study for at the college, hence myself and my fellow third year students are quite frazzled in the run up to the first term essay and assignment deadlines.  Two other students and I are also on weekly placement at the Queen Elizabeth hospital in Birmingham, where as part of the multi faith chaplaincy team we visit the wards and patients offering a chat, prayer and support.  For the first few weeks we were paired with a chaplain from another faith and it was my privilege to go to some visits with the Sikh chaplain.  It was humbling to be able to witness the care and compassion he offered the sick patients, especially praying with a man who had been told his cancer was terminal.  The following week I went out with the Anglican chaplain, and again it was inspirational to witness his dedication and ease at which he put the patients we visited.   

I have worked for the NHS in the past and have been in and around hospitals for a number of years, but never in the role of a chaplaincy team ward visitor.  For me the role of visitor is very hard, having to approach people who I don’t know at a very difficult time in their lives, what should I say? What can I say? It’s frustrating not being able to help in any way that can alleviate their pain.  All I can offer is someone to talk to and pray with if they would like to. It’s at times like these that the line of the hymn become so real and relevant, “In Christ alone my hope is found”,

He is my hope, in Him alone I trust, He is my strength. 

Last year before coming back to the college to start the second year I was at Holy Mass, the doubts about my vocation to the priesthood filling my mind.  When out of the blue a young nun who was sitting behind me, tapped me on the shoulder and said “Always remember to keep your eyes on Jesus”.  This is exactly what I needed to hear, I felt strengthened, resolved and at peace.


What heights of love, what depths of peace,

When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!

My Comforter, my All in All, Here in the love of Christ I stand.

Please pray for the Seminarians and all those who are thinking about religious life, that they may have the faith, strength and courage to follow our Loving Lords path.

Please keep Stephen in your prayers as he continues his journey to priesthood.