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Extra special day for ninth Bishop of Blackburn
5:09pm Friday 11th October 2013 in News
ARCHBISHOP of York John Sentamu came to his medieval cathedral to anoint Juilian Henderson but found himself blessing the parents of the new leader of Lancashire’s Anglicans’ as well.
He discovered on his way to the service at York Minster that 91-year-old Ian and 81-year-old Sue were celebrating their diamond wedding anniversary on the very day their 59-year-old son was elevated to the rank of Bishop.
After making the sign of the cross on the Rt Reverend Henderson, the Archbishop came down the aisle to the front row of the congregation to the couple standing proudly watching their son’s big moment.
As the new Bishop followed, the Most Reverend Sentamu turned and told him: “You don’t have to follow me, but you can if you want to.”
The new Bishop replied: “I’m just coming to make sure you are nice to them.”
The second most important figure in the Church of England wrapped his scarf around the couple’s hands, anointed and blessed them with words of congratulation on their 60-year marriage.
It was a touching domestic counterpoint to two hours of pomp, ceremony and Church music at its finest lightened by Archbishop Sentamu’s humour and common touch.
The Rt Rev Henderson was a slight, thoughtful and almost fragile figure as he was anointed with holy oil and given his traditional Bishop’s Bible by the Prince of the Church, magnificent in his red and gold robes and mitre.
Afterwards, clutching his official shepherd’s staff, he was delighted at this celebration not just of his elevation but his parents’ diamond wedding on the Feast of St Paulinus, who founded the Minster in the year 627.
He said: “It was a wonderful and humbling day. It’s not something you can even imagine. I’m just worried my parents are all right. They have never been anointed with oil before.”
Archbishop Sentamu said: “This was a unique occasion for me. I have consecrated 18 Bishops but never anointed the parents on their diamond wedding anniversary in the same service before.
“It was a wonderful and special way to celebrate the feast day of the founder of York Minster.”
Ian said: “It has been an absolutely wonderful day. I never imagined this could happen on our 60th wedding anniversary.”
Sue added: “I never even dreamt of this happening. It has been a wonderful experience. You could say it is more than an answer to our prayers.”
The family nature of the service was confirmed by the presence of the Rt Rev Henderson’s proud wife Heather, brother and sister David and Lucinda and his children Jamie and Susannah, who read the first lesson.
Archbishop Sentamu welcomed the Lancashire visitors, thanking them for bringing cold winds across the county border and warning visas to stay in Yorkshire expired at 4pm.
He charged the Rt Rev Henderson to follow in St Paulinus’s footsteps teaching and baptising, adding: “No pressure then.”
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