A Purple Weekend

Yours Truly processing at the beginning of the Consecration Service between Archdeacon Walter Baer and Rev’d Nathanial Bm © Sybille Yates



My last month as the Anglican Chaplain of St Clement’s, Prague, started with what can be best described as a ‘purple weekend’. It featured bishops – lots of them!

As I have explained many times previously on this blog, for legal and ecumenical reasons, St Clement’s is officially the English-speaking parish of the Old Catholic Church in the Czech Republic. Back in April 2016, at a synod meeting held at Želiv Monastery, Pavel Benedikt Stránský was elected to succeed the retiring Bishop Dušan Hejbal, as head of the Czech Old Catholics. Therefore on Saturday 1st April 2017, I attended what in English sounds like a contradiction in terms – the consecration of Pavel Benedikt Stránský as the new Old Catholic Bishop of the Czech Republic 🙂




Archbishop Joris Vercammen © Sybille Yates

The Consecration Service took place in the Basilica sv Markéty, located within the Brevnov Monastery complex in Prague. The service was presided over by the Archbishop of Utrecht, Joris Vercammen, whose role within the Old Catholic Churches of the Union of Utrecht is very similar to that of the Archbishop of Canterbury within the Anglican Communion. Also participating were Old Catholic bishops from the Netherlands, Germany Switzerland and Austria.

Bishop-elect Pavel between two supporting OC priests with contrasting hairstyles 🙂 © Sybille Yates

However, because of the Bonn agreement of 1931, by which Old Catholics and Anglicans, mutually recognise each others orders, Anglican bishops from the Episcopal Church of the USA, the Church of Ireland, the Lusitanian Church – Portuguese Episcopal Church, together with my Church of England Diocesan bishop, Rt Rev’d Dr Robert Innes, also participated in the Consecration Service.

The service lasted for nearly three hours and was conducted mainly in Czech and German, with a little English. It was, as Bishop Robert has himself written, a test in humility for us English-speakers! But it was good to be there, and see Bishop Pavel take up his role as head of the Old Catholic Church in the Czech Republic, before my own retirement, as he and Bishop Robert will have joint responsibility, for appointing my successor.

On the morning of Sunday 2nd April, Bishop Robert was the Celebrant and Preacher at our Sung Eucharist for the Fifth Sunday of Lent – Passion Sunday. Wanting to engage the St Clement’s congregation with the very long Gospel reading – the story of the raising of Lazarus as recorded in John 11. 1-45, he got me to read it in five separate sections with his sermon interspersed between each section. You can listen to the reading and sermon here. Within the service, he also confirmed three members of the congregation, Sebastian, Radka and John.

The three confirmees, together with Bishop Robert, Rev’d Nathanial & Yours Truly © Sybille Yates

At an extended Coffee Hour with copious amounts of food, Bishop Robert met with members of the congregation, displaying his language skills by speaking in both French and Flemish/Dutch as well as English. Then, whilst I headed off to Brno for our regular monthly service in the second city of the Czech Republic, the Church Council met with Bishop Robert to discuss the future of the Chaplaincy and the strategy and timetable for appointing my successor. 

From l to r: Licensed Reader Jack Noonan, Rev’d Nathanial Bm, Bishop Robert, Yours Truly © Stephen Weeks

8 comments to A Purple Weekend

  • Petr Jan Vinš

    Well, a Bible reading and the sermon in English was as far as we could go with the liturgy, unless we would like it to last 4 hours instead of 3. And btw I have attended several anglican and old catholic ordinations and all of them were exclusively in the language of the host country… just saying…

    • Ricky

      I wasn’t complaining regarding language, Petr Jan. It was the consecration of a Czech bishop & German is the lingua franca of the Old Catholic Churches. As you rightly say, normally the service would only be in the language of the host country. I was explaining this to some Czech people following the service, who were surprised at the amount of German that was used. But whilst Archbishop Joris is multi-lingual, he doesn’t speak Czech!

  • I love this Ricky!!! This is so very different from what I am used to. For one thing, every picture is filled to the brim with merry gentlemen!!! Still, seeing that many friendly bishops in one place, and ministers and so on, celebrating this utterly important Passion Sunday, is a joy any how. Three hours? Well , I wouldn’t mind. I wonder if the coffee break lasted that long?? I am happy that your journey towards retirement can be such a splendid one!!! I will listen to the sermon.

    I haven’t been in here for a while , not since your reports about the letter Y!!! That was great fun! Now we are heading for Easter, and I for one hope that people will wake up and gather by the cross and realize what a comfort and mending it brings. Easter puts everything in the light, the splendour as well as the horror of life.

    How long will you be serving, I probably have seen it and probably forgot, I just know your retirement is coming up soon.

    Blessings to you Ricky and thank you for these wonderful and inspiring posts from a world so different from mine and still so familiar!!!

    • Ricky

      Glad to know you enjoyed this post Solveig, & thank you for visiting & commenting once more. I do know what you mean by it being only ‘merry gentlemen’. There was one Czech female deacon there but she doesn’t appear in any of the photos.

      I’m looking forward to my ninth & final Holy Week & Easter in Prague. I then retire at the end of the month following worship on Sunday 30th April.

  • Missed this as it was our travelling weekend. A fine way to mark the end of your 9 fruitful years of ecumenical work in Prague. 🙂

    • Ricky

      I was very pleased that the consecration of Bishop Pavel took place before the end of my time as Chaplain of St Clement’s and that Bishop Robert was able to be present & take part in the consecration. It all makes for good future relations between Anglicans & Old Catholics in continental Europe.

  • Walter Baer

    Ricky, you’re going to leave a big hole in Prague. This was a great post. It was great to see you at the ordination, and thanks for navigating me through the Czech (as seems to become a regular practice). I was surprised at the amount of German, but it certainly made it easier for me and many other visitors. Enjoyed being with you for Bishop Robert’s visitation as well. Blessings to you and Sybille as you make your move to the Boehmische Schweiz!

    • Ricky

      Thank you, Walter – is was good to catch up with you once again. With regard to the amount of German in the service, see my reply to Petr Jan Vinš. German is the lingua franca of the OC Bishops. Whilst both the Swiss & German OC Bishops can speak English, I know from minuting the annual meeting of OC & Anglican Bishops working in continental Europe back in June 2015, that both prefer to speak in German. See http://rickyyates.com/a-somewhat-purple-week/