It has been almost seventeen years since Grant and I arrived in St Albans. We will always be grateful for the astonishingly warm welcome we received then, and for the love and support we have continued to receive since then, both from the Cathedral congregations and beyond, in the city and diocese. I had intended to stay until 70, when clergy have to retire, but having realised that we would also like to live in St Albans in retirement, it seems a wise idea for me to continue my ministry for a while elsewhere before returning.

The invitation from the Chaplain and Church Council in Paris is an exciting one and is a good fit. Of the two Anglican churches in Paris St George’s is the one in the Catholic tradition, with a strong emphasis on good liturgy, preaching and music.  Its worship and ethos are very similar to the Abbey’s. It has both English and French speaking congregations, and they particularly need someone who can preach and teach in both languages.

After we completed the ‘Alban Britain’s First Saint’ project in 2019, it soon became clear that it was already bringing in more new visitors and pilgrims to the Cathedral than we had dared hope. We were also seeing new growth in the congregation, especially with young people and children. It has been frustrating to see this growth suddenly shut down by the coronavirus pandemic. Nevertheless the end is in sight, and I am sure flourishing growth will continue once we are allowed to operate at full strength again.

The Abbey is extraordinary. As I have said many times, it makes the presence of God and the saints real in more powerful way than anywhere, and that spiritual warmth communicates itself even to people who imagine they are not religious. It is as if what Alban did here 1700 years ago opened a permanent door into heaven. This place is a priceless gift to the Church and to the world. Thank God for it, and for you, and thank you for letting us be a part of it.