Who said ordinands were meant to be responsible?

I was under the impression that only mature, responsible individuals entered the priesthood (yes, I realise that I am not necessarily in that category – but perhaps I’m the exception to the rule). However, after a week in France with 100 other vicars-to-be, I have discovered that this is definitely not the case. It seems that in fact, many of the students find it all to easy to connect with their teenage selves…

One can understand how childish games might become fun in a foreign monastery with free-flowing red wine. Boo Yeah! was a discovery on our first residential and it’s on its way to becoming a firm favourite. [It’s like Hot/Cold, but with yells, screams and humiliating actions.] Then there’s Guess the Kitchen Implement? – never has an extractor fan been so hilarious. How would you mime such an object? [That game is immensely simple – you mime the action of a kitchen implement. I suggest beginning with a corkscrew and getting progressively more complicated.] My personal favourite was miming one of those egg timers that changes colour in the water.

Anyone ever played spoons? It’s a classic youth group game – enough spoons for all but one of the group; a pack of cards; when the first person gets a set of cards, they reach for a spoon and everyone follows; person left spoonless is out. Sounds fairly tame, but it’s vicious. It’s not often that I participate in games that involve pre-match rules on which areas of the body to avoid (we specified faces and specifically those wearing glasses). Despite this, the end of the first round saw me prostrate on a table, devoid of glasses and with an elbow in my cheek. Actual blood was shed before I went spoonless (nails dug into fingers) and one player damaged their nose. Ah, the hilarity! It didn’t end there – how else should such competitions be settled than by a Chariots of Fire style quad race (at 11pm)? A race in the dark, round slippery floored cloisters, clad only in socks. It’s a miracle no bones were broken. (An alternative version involving blankets and towing girls was proposed the following evening but never took place.) Oh, and it couldn’t be left with one race – there was another, this time a 4 person relay version. Men…

Poor quality due to darkness and speed, but you get the idea – this was during the relay.

It was the childish pranks that were more surprising. People who follow a certain worship leader on Twitter, may have noticed a reference to a discovering a frog in their bedroom. It turned out this wasn’t a natural phenomenon, but a plant by an intrepid ordinand. Retribution was to follow, in this form:

That is no ascetic monastic bedroom, that is a bedroom devoid of all possessions and beds. Genius. No idea how long it took or how many people were involved, but I am impressed. [Note to self: be careful who you play tricks on in future…] 
Just in case you think it was only the ‘young & trendy’ students who were getting up to high jinks, two of my favourite quotes came from students of more advanced years. One opened an act of worship [a boat/ocean themed agape meal] with the sentence “In the words of the Village People…” and proceeded to quote In the Navy. Another, in response to a request that we shout out words of praise and thanksgiving, kicked off the shouting with “Rum punch!” – something that we should always be praising God and thanking Him for. [It was the cocktail deemed most appropriate for a boat based activity…] 
[An aside: the ‘young & trendy’ reference was actually a high point of my week. On the first morning a lecturer came over to the table I and my fellow younger students were sat eating breakfast and said “Spot the young & trendy table” to which one of the group replied “Wow. We’ve made it.” – perhaps we had, but I had to observe the reality: “It’s sad that we had to come to theological college for that to happen.”. Still, I’ll take that – I finally have an area of my life in which I’m cool, that’s enough for me.] 

Perhaps it’s three years at theological college that turn irresponsible wannabe teenagers into mature priests? Evidence from our staff would suggest otherwise. Who got over excited during the bonus University Challenge staff round in the pub quiz? The Assistant Dean and Principal. Who demanded more wine when their answer was considered wrong? A leading, respected theologian who may or may not be married to an Archbishop. It seems there is little hope for the Church of England…


  1. hee hee, this made me chuckle!

  2. Does it give you some hope for the future?! 😉

  3. Yes, indeed – I do worry about my ability to be sensible for long periods of time and this shows I needn’t worry! Ha! 🙂

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