Faith Matters

Terminally-ill man's life-long ambition fulfilled as he is ordained a priest

The Rt Rev Tim Thornton, Bishop of Truro (right) and Rev Peter Skillern (left). Picture by Diocese of Truro/PA Wire

A TERMINALLY-ill man's life-long ambition has been fulfilled after he was ordained as a priest - following special permission from the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Peter Skellern (69) had first dreamed of ordination as a nine-year-old, but after a successful career as a musician never found the time.

But two and half years ago he was put forward for ordination training, and then was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour.

Mr Skellern, from Lanteglos-by-Fowey in Cornwall, said: "For about a week I hung in this abyss and I just grabbed God.

"I was given a year to live and everything fell, apart from my belief in God. It was like that for about a week and then God closed the ground beneath me and I became resigned and happy and I have been like that ever since."

The Rt Rev Tim Thornton, Bishop of Truro, suggested he carried on with his ordination.

"It is very unusual for someone to be ordained as a deacon and a priest at the same time," Mr Skellern said.

"I was amazed Bishop Tim suggested it. It was just staggering for me. On the day I just felt wonderful."

St Wyllows Church in Lanteglos-by-Fowey was full, with more than 120 of his friends and family including his wife Diana and fellow clergy to watch him fulfil his 60-year-old calling.

"People had come from all over, my friends from London, my friends from Cornwall and it was just wonderful," he said.

The Bishop ordained Mr Skellern under a special faculty from the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby.

"It was a privilege to ordain Peter as deacon and priest. It was a most unusual event and I was very pleased that the Archbishop of Canterbury was so willing to grant a faculty to allow this to happen," the Bishop said.

"Peter has been considering a sense of vocation for a very long time and it is tragic in many ways that as he has had this calling confirmed he was diagnosed with cancer.

"It seemed right to me that he should be ordained both deacon and priest so that God can continue to work through him and, in his life and ministry, he can be faithful to becoming the person God wants him to be."

He added: "I am praying for both Peter and Diana in this extraordinary time for them both."

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