This Saturday, our diocese will be saying a fond farewell to Bishop Peter.
There is sadness, of course, but also gratitude. Gratitude to a man who has given his most recent 15 years of ministry to a thankless role that few would relish! I have witnessed his ministry close up over the last few years and I have seen how he leads with humility, prayer, and compassion. I have seen him struggle when there is no right answer or he is misrepresented or his courage leads to isolation, and yet he persevered.
I remember when I got married and he was a relatively new Bishop (not yet the chair of the Bishops Conference Department for Marriage and FamilyLife) he offered the simple yet profound advice to my wife and I, “Be gentle with each other”. I did not realise at the time the wisdom of this advice. As we bounded into marriage with energy and excitement, there were times in those early years when we should have remembered his words… People often ask “What do celibate priests know of marriage?” Well, this celibate priest had the key to marriage in a simple phrase!
I am sure you will have your own memories of Bishop Peter and we know he will be sorely missed, but for now, it is time to be grateful for all he has done and wish him a well deserved and peaceful retirement.