Provincial press releases

Ordinations at St Asaph diocese

Two stipendiary youth and children’s chaplains will be licensed by the Bishop of St Asaph during this year’s ordination service later this month (29 June).

The two chaplains, a married couple, Esther and Jon Andrews (left), from St Asaph have been trained alongside the ordination candidates at the Church in Wales’ college, St Padarn’s Institute in Cardiff.  Jon and Esther are the first youth workers to be paid in the same way as priests.

After being licensed, Esther will work in the Denbigh, Ruthin and surrounding areas (Denbigh and Dyffryn Clwyd Mission Areas) and Jon will be based in Rhos on Sea (Aled Mission Area).  Esther said: “Training has given us a theological grounding for employment, lifelong friends and the chance to fulfil what we believe God is calling us to. It has been challenging as our training pathway has been a pioneer project for the Diocese of St Asaph, but we are excited for what lies ahead!”

Six deacons (left), the first stage of becoming a priest, and six priests will be ordained by the Rt Revd Gregory Cameron at St Asaph Cathedral on Saturday 29 June.

The priests include the Church in Wales’ youngest priest, Revd Dominic Cawdell, an assistant curate in Llay near Wrexham, who is only 23 years old – a year younger than the usual age set for ordination – and needs a dispensation from the Archbishop of Wales to enable his ordination to the priesthood to take place

Dominic (right), who went to Argoed School and Alyn School in Mold, studied Theology at Cambridge University, before training for the priesthood at St Padarn’s Institute in Cardiff.

The Bishop of St Asaph, the Rt Revd Gregory Cameron will conduct the ordinations.  This will be his last public engagement before a four-month sabbatical.  Speaking ahead of the ordinations he said: “This year’s ordinands bring a huge diversity of talent to the ordained ministry of St Asaph, evidence that God calls men and women, young and old to serve the church and proclaim the gospel.  We are also proud to be commissioning our first two stipendiary youth and children’s chaplains at the same service.”

The new deacons are:

  • Gareth Erlandson, 35, a former music teacher who will serve in Borderlands Mission Area, which covers parts of Flintshire
  • Sally Harper, a former senior lecturer in music at Bangor University, who will serve at St Asaph Cathedral
  • Simon Piercy, 44, a primary school teacher from Penyffordd who will serve in Alyn Mission Area, which covers part of north and west Wrexham
  • Sue Storey, a former nurse and midwife who will serve in Aled Mission Area, which includes communities on the Denbighshire/Conwy border
  • Carol Thomas, is part of the Expressive Arts Service in Conwy, offering African Drumming, Samba and Creative Composition workshops. She will serve in Denbigh Mission Area.
  • James Tout, 31, head of science at the Marcher School in Oswestry, who will serve in Wrexham Mission Area

The following will be ordained as priests on 29 June:

  • Dominic Cawdell, assistant curate in Alyn Mission Area
  • Alan Cronin, a former policeman, now an assistant curate in the Borderlands Mission Area
  • Dylan Parry Jones, assistant curate in the Dyffryn Clwyd Mission Area, around Ruthin
  • John Searl, who runs a forestry management company in St Asaph and is an assistant curate in Aled Mission Area
  • Kathy Stewart, a former social worker and now an assistant curate in the Mold Mission Area
  • Heather Shotton, a former nurse in the Royal Navy and now an assistant curate in the Wrexham Mission Area

The ordination service takes place at 10am at St Asaph Cathedral on Saturday 29 June.  All are welcome to the service.

Additional quotes from Ordinands:

Gareth Erlandson, 35, is a former music teacher from Ruabon. He’s following his younger brother, Sam Erlandson, into ordained ministry. Sam is Vicar of All Saints, Poysner Street in Wrexham.  Ahead of his ordination, Gareth said: “I think I’m a healthy mixture of nervous and excited about ordination.  I know God has great plans, but it is also quite a responsibility to bear. The churches I’ll be based in are bustling with activity and faithful Christian people and I’m really excited to be able to work and learn alongside them.”

Sally Harper is a former senior lecturer in music at Bangor University. She said: “I’d been a Lay Reader and a Prayer Guide with the Outreach team of St Beuno’s Jesuit Spirituality Centre for some while, but it was only when I moved into St Asaph Diocese two years ago that I sensed God was drawing me towards ordained ministry.  This next step on the journey feels hugely joyous, daunting and privileged, all at the same time! I really hope that it will help me to serve God more fully and walk alongside others more closely, as together we discover more of God’s love for us, and what he longs and hopes for in our lives.”

Simon Piercy, 44, lives in Penyffordd near Chester and is a primary school teacher. Simon is a church organist and runs a Community Choir which has 40 members: “Although I feel called to serve God as an ordained Deacon/Priest, I also feel a call to continue with my current vocation as a primary school teacher. I am therefore going to be ordained as a Non-Stipendiary Deacon this year and God willing a Priest the following year and will continue my full time job as a primary school teacher, as I feel a big part of my ministry is within the school environment.”

Susan Storey is from Coventry originally but has lived in north Wales since 1988: “I trained as a nurse and have worked as a midwife and in the community. I cannot remember not having a Christian faith. I was sent to Sunday School by my Mother but did not live in an overtly Christian household. I joined a big, lively Baptist church and was baptised at 14years old. Being a nurse made regular church attendance of any kind difficult, so my faith went on a “back burner” for the years when I was working and bringing up our family. When we moved to Llanddulas I felt drawn to attend the services in St Cynbryd’s. The welcome and fellowship there kept me going back. I felt called to train for Reader ministry which I started in 2013, being licensed in 2015. God had other plans though, nudging me to explore discernment for ordination to the priesthood. I was selected in 2016 and have been in training since. My main hope is that I can be of service in God’s church and support its mission in the way that it has supported me.”

Carol Anne Thomas is a teacher from Betws yn Rhos.  She is part of the Expressive Arts Service in Conwy, offering African Drumming, Samba and Creative Composition workshops largely to primary schools.  She said: “I feel called to rural ministry and to use my teaching and music skills in the churches around Denbigh and surrounding area.”

James Tout, 31, associate assistant headteacher and director of science at The Marches School in Oswestrylives in Penley near Wrexham, and comes from Ammanford, Carmarthenshire originally.  James said: “I’ve had a sense of being called to be a priest, since the age of about 21, towards the end of my degree at Cardiff University.  I was drawn back to church after my grandmother passed away. Not long after this I was visiting St Davids with some friends and attended Choral Evensong. When the choir started to sing that was when I felt God calling me most strongly and have followed that call to ordination ever since. At the minute I feel that God’s plan for me is to remain in teaching full time as an expression of my vocation, but who knows what the future holds, and the plans God has for me further down the line?”