Milestones

A translation into English of the review by Canon Patrick Thomas of an autobigraphy by one of our diocese’s best-loved parish priests, Revd Canon Aled Williams

My memory goes back to a bishop’s visitation at Lampeter in the early 1980s. I was sitting with the churchwardens of Gartheli (two young women) when the Vicar of Llanddewibrefi walked down the aisle. “There’s a slashyn of a man!” one said to the other admiringly. Canon Aled Williams has been one of the giants of the diocese throughout his career as a dedicated parish priest. He is also a man with a wide range of interests and gifts. Occasionally we would meet on the National Eisteddfod field where Aled had been competing as a bass soloist with his truly wonderful voice. Reading his contributions to Y Llan when that worthwhile paper still existed was a delight. He made a solid contribution and the province serving on various committees and commissions. He was a noted fisherman and a skilful farmer. At the centre of it all was his pastoral work in the parish and his family life.

So it’s a great joy to receive his autobiography. This rich volume contains several surprises – for example, a man who is so thoroughly identified with the atmosphere and character of St Davids Diocese turns out to be originally from Pontypridd. It’s a readable book – I enjoyed the Welsh version immensely, while the English version is an added bonus. Aled says that the volume’s aim is ‘mainly to record for the benefit of my grandchildren the twists and turns of my life…’ It will be of interest to a much wider circle of people and gives a valuable picture of the life of the Anglican ministry in West Wales at a time when all sorts of social and cultural changes were happening.

Aled’s amiability and generosity of spirit shine through this book. This devoted priest has been a support and a kind friend to many, including myself. His sincerity and independence are obvious –after all, Aled is the immortal Canon Dewi Thomas’ nephew. These days the idea of a ‘parish priest’ is rapidly disappearing in the face of all sorts of ecclesiastical restructuring. It’s therefore good to be reminded by Aled of the huge contribution made by those who have been willing to shoulder the ‘bagad gofalon bugail’* in St Davids Diocese over the centuries.

*’the pastor’s host of cares’ – a quotation from the eighteenth century Anglican poet-priest Goronwy Owen.

Revd Canon Patrick Thomas