Chris decided to pursue ordination after a long and fruitful discernment process. After graduating in 2015, he is exploring how he can combine his calling as a minister and his passion for teaching.

“It was 22 years between my initial exploration of pursuing ordained ministry and my coming back to consider it again.

“With that much time spent discerning my call, you would think I would have had a clear idea about the type of ministry I felt called towards. To be honest, for a large part of this time my ‘call’ had, from my point of view at least, fallen silent.

“So, it was something of a surprise to find myself called to explore my vocation once again.”

Pursuing ministry and teaching in tandem

“By this time, I had trained to be a teacher and was building what appeared to be a successful career. I was happy in my job so certainly wasn’t looking for a career change.”

“At first, I assumed that ordination would have to mean a complete change in career path. I thought that I’d train for ordination part-time – the mortgage would make sure of that! – and then enter into full-time stipendiary ministry afterwards.”

“This is one of reasons that I’m glad the discernment process goes at such a gentle pace. Two and a half years was just about enough time for us to work out that teaching was not something that should end, and for me to appreciate that ministry and my employment could indeed complement each other.”

Trusting to God to shape formation

“As formation continues, I’m developing a deeper understanding of how they might work together. Ordination or education? Neither describes me completely, but together with other aspects of my personality, they start to develop into a bigger picture.

“I don’t yet know exactly how education and employment will get along as stable mates and how conflicting tensions will be worked through and resolved. God knows and I’m willing to trust him.

“I have no doubt that the way in which I have been formed through 18 years as a teacher will prove useful in my ministry. As I continue on the journey of formation for ordination (and beyond) I can see how ministerial training will impact, in a positive and creative way, on my role as a teacher of children with complex needs.

–        Chris Smaling, St Augustine’s alumni (graduated, 2015)