One of Wales’ youngest priests features in a new BBC series on religion in Wales today.
Father Ross Maidment is one of nine young people from different faiths followed in the four-part series, Young, Welsh and Pretty Religious which starts next week.
In Wales, nearly three-quarters of people under 30 proclaim to have ‘no faith’ and the amount of those who observe a faith is reported to be declining. From Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hare Krishnas and Pagans to those on their own spiritual path the new series meets some who are bucking that trend.
Fr Ross, 28, talks about his faith and shares his story as the cameras follow him during his first year as an ordained priest, serving as an assistant curate, at St Augustine’s Church, Rumney, Cardiff. He describes how faith was his bedrock when he was fostered in his youth and how he is now returning that love and support to his congregational family through services, marriages, funerals and baptisms.
“The last few months have been interesting, to say the least!” says Fr Ross, who is shown preparing for presiding over his first Christmas Midnight Mass as well as taking a christening and returning to his former secondary school to talk about ‘showing racism the red card’.
“They have been, in many ways, a journey of discovery. I was ordained priest almost a year ago, in June 2018, and have been growing into that role — learning about the joys it brings, as well as the challenges. For much of that time, that journey was filmed by a team from the BBC.
“I wanted to take part in this series for a number of reasons, but more than anything else, I was excited about the opportunity it presented to learn and to share; to share my experiences and beliefs with others, and to learn from others of their own beliefs and experiences. In working and learning together, what became apparent quite quickly was how much we could celebrate together about that which we share in common. I hope that those who watch the show will find the same to be true.”
Rumney Parish, where Fr Ross serves is very proud of its young curate, says Area Dean, the Revd John Connell.
He says, “It has been a privilege to support and encourage my colleague Fr Ross in working on the BBC series. As a newly ordained priest with energy, enthusiasm and plenty of fresh ideas about how we can share the Christian faith, I knew that Ross would throw himself into working alongside the film crew with the same enthusiasm that marks out his ministry.
“Fitting in the filming, alongside the busy working life of a young priest, and balancing the needs of work, faith and family has been a big commitment on his part. Working with the BBC has been a very positive experience for the Parish of Rumney, and we have seen Fr Ross continue to grow and mature through this process as he continues to develop his ability to share the Christian faith.”
He added, “Having a curate as young as Fr Ross has enabled us as a parish to communicate in news ways, especially using social media, to a younger generation, many of whom might not describe themselves as ‘religious’ and yet still have a yearning to connect find answers to the big questions in life.
“It is great to have him as my colleague, as he has brought a sense of renewal not only to the parish, but also to his Vicar as well!
The programme also features another Church in Wales member. Will Moore, 20, attends the Anglican and Methodist chaplaincy at Cardiff University, as well as the Gathering, an LGBT Christian group in Cardiff.
Young, Welsh and Pretty Religious airs on Tuesday 21 May at 10.35pm on BBC One Wales. You can see the whole series on BBC iPlayer this Sunday.
The other contributors taking part are:
GOPAL – 29 – HARE KRISHNA
Christened Thomas Charles, and from Swansea, Gopal converted 10 years ago and is now a Hare Krishna monk .
SAHAR AL FAIFI – 27 – MUSLIM
Member of the Muslim Council for Wales and she’s also training to be the UK’s first female Muslim skydive instructor.
MHARA STARLING – 22 – PAGAN
CHLOE RICHARDS – 25 – EVANGELICAL CHRISTIAN
Chloe fronts up a family-run Evangelical Church from a converted Aldi in Swansea.
HANNAH GERSON – 22 – JEWISH
Lives between Cardiff and London where she works for a refugee charity.
YOUSRA ELSADIG – 30 – MUSLIM
Yousra combines being a mother and part-time student with a burgeoning career as a designer of modest fashion wear.
SIWAN REYNOLDS – 24 – SPIRITUALIST
Siwan is a Polytheist and she ‘collects’ elements of different religions and is forging her own belief system.