After a very busy two days of traveling and beginning our pilgrimage by seeing not only the city of Lancaster but also some of the villages that constitute the larger metropolitan area, most of us had a great first night with our hosts. My hosts, Alice and Annalise and their children, were amazingly warm and hospitable but since they already had a large family gathering planned I opted to forego the party, though I was kindly invited, I opted to sleep. And I as mentioned in my last post I crashed hard. I slept for roughly 13 hours! By the time I arose to get ready for Mass at the Priory the sun had been shining for hours, because we are further north than I had thought, and I proceeded to join my host family for breakfast. Since I did not have much of an opportunity to talk with the family we had a delightful conversation as we all prepared for church.
Alice, who also serves as one of the vergers for the Priory had to head out early, so I hung out with the rest of the family. By 9:15am her daughter Freddie and I were walking the sun swept streets of Lancaster as we made the 10 minute walk to the Priory. It was a lovely walk in the morning light, especially as the weather had been so unpredictable the day before. It was nice to feel the warm rays of light warm up my body. We approached the castle and Priory hill and made my way into the Priory where I was met by Fr. David and Fr. Chris. I vested with the five other priests serving that day, using stoles and chasubles that were borrowed from the local Roman Catholic Church. At 10:00am sharp the show began…and what a show it was. It was a divine service full of Anglican pageantry and deep spirituality that captured all our senses, from the smell of the incense to the rays of light dancing on the stone floor from the stained glass windows to the beautiful choir. It was truly a privilege to stand beside Fr. Chris, Fr. David and the ther priests and serve in such a beautiful sacred space.
After the Mass the parish hosted a hog roast and we all enjoyed the British version of a BBQ pork, which I will say is not like ours back home. The pork was delicious and provided by a local BBQ company who roasted the pig but instead of an array of sauces to drown the pork sandwiches there was apple sauce and stuffing. I will admit at first I was a bit skeptical but after one bite I was hooked. The sweetness of the apple sauce mixed with the smoked pork and the stuffing made for a delicious and filling lunch. We spent a good two hours talking with many of the parishioners who decided to stay and be with us. There was even a bouncy house for the kids, which Fr. Chris did play on; though I do not have video evidence of it, I know there is photographic evidence of his skillful bouncing.
After the pig roast the parishioners went home to catch a rest before evensong later that day and we went with Fr. Chris for an in-depth tour of the priory. Instead of trying to capture all the stories in narrative form, I have for you this video. I will warn you now it is almost an hour, but do check it out because it is awesome!
After our wonderful history lesson we then went on a short walking tour of the city seeing different sites that have had an impact on the history of the city and the faithful souls who have lived there and continue to live there.
I am just blown away by Fr. Chris and the parish for their amazing hospitality and I am looking forward to how we can continue to develop this relationship as we seek to serve God in both cities of Lancaster and beyond. Tomorrow we head to City Hall to meet the mayor of Lancaster and then off to York. See you all in York!