At the end of July, I found that my pilgrimage in St David’s footsteps had taken me around 87 parishes. I have thus been able to visit and join in worship with the congregations of 321 churches; and gain an idea of the daily life of the diocese as it exists in the parishes and ministry areas.
I am astonished, that I have been able to accomplish this because, given the size of this diocese, I have more than once, over the past two and a half years, thought that I had bitten off more than I could chew. This was not least because the time of my episcopate was always going to be short; and the 4th October 2016 is now looming ever closer.
That I have been able to visit as many of you as I have since 2014 is due in no small part to my staff, in particular to my two successive chaplains and also to the parish clergy who have prepared such interesting and varied programmes for me, as the pictures which appear both in this blog and in Pobl Dewi make so clear.
Meeting residents at Kensington Court, Steynton Newchurch Spring Fayre
As you know, before I visit, I ask to see what pastoral and missionary initiatives churches and congregations are fostering at present; what engagement they have with the communities among whom they dwell and to whom they minister; also how they see and are responding to the changing ecclesiastical landscape which this diocese and the Church in Wales as a whole is engaged in at present: how, in other words, they are growing hope for the future.
With RE students at Milford Comprehensive MOPS Playgroup, Llandeilo
The mathematicians among you will have worked out, therefore, that although I may be on the threshold of completing the journey, I am not yet there and that there are still nine churches to go until, DV, on the 29th September, the journey ends in the Rectorial Benefice of Dewisland. September will be a very crowded month!
When I have completed the journey, which has taken me from the western sea border of the diocese to the mountains in the east, from the industrial and post industrial valleys of the south to the more remote areas of the north east, I shall have no difficulty in bringing to mind the kindness and the welcome and the hospitality I have enjoyed on the journey; the sheer variety of people and places I have seen; the sheer exuberance of the schools, large and small, to which I have been.
The overwhelming impression made on me has been of the people who are the diocese of St Davids in 2016, for without them no bishop can exercise a ministry and that is as true today as it was of the time of St David.
+ Wyn Tyddewi