Last Friday saw the ‘installation’ of the schools’ new Chaplain, Father Matthew Askey. The service saw Matthew licensed by the Bishop of Sherwood, with Woodard’s Brendan Clover also presiding over the event. The term Installed means being ‘put into your seat’ or ‘stall’ as they are better known for Clergy men and women.
Fr Matthew comes to us from Southwell Minster, where he's been school chaplain for 6 1/2 years. During this time he has been part of the cathedral clergy team and has led the children and families ministry of the Minster. He came to faith as an adult, and after a time in the book trade and as an art teacher trained for ordination at the College of the Resurrection, Mirfield. He has a particular passion for prayer and is a member of the Society of the Resurrection. He is also a professional artist and curator and during this year is artist-in-residence at Lincoln cathedral. Fr Matthew has a life-long love of music, especially classical music and jazz, and plays the saxophone in a jazz group. He is married to Helen, a musician and music teacher, and they have two sons, Samuel (11) and Isaac (8), both of whom are choristers at the cathedral.
Now fully in the driving seat, we caught up with Father Matthew to find out more about his background, his approach to Worship and his plans for the community at Worksop College and Ranby House.
“I haven’t always been a Christian,” says Fr Matthew. “I must’ve been a bit of a handful when I was a child as I decided that I was an atheist at the age of 4 or 5 and refused to go to Church! That would’ve been in the late 1970’s. It wasn’t until later, when I was about 20, that I discovered God and religion, and just how wonderful it is! I am very happy that I eventually took the opportunity to trust and follow a path of faith; it is such an amazing thing!”
Fr Matthew’s approach to his role is be ‘be here to help us together as a school family to get to know God better in our daily lives’.
“To me this is the greatest of privileges and the most important of tasks,” he says. “I don’t know how that will look exactly, except to say that at this point, as I’m new, I’m learning a lot and carrying on with things as they have been done in the past. I hope it will involve lots of fun for both the students and myself (yes, faith can be very enjoyable!), as well as encouragement and support. Although faith is forgotten by many today I believe passionately that it is the greatest gift we can have in life”.
Although students at both schools are already very involved in the worship in College, Fr Matthew would like to encourage more private prayer and reflection among our students and will be looking at how we can do that over the coming year.
“I believe it’s important for everyone to be exposed to worship and to see those who have faith living it out - how else are we to learn what faith is in a society which is increasingly forgetting the treasures of faith?” he says.
“Opportunity for peace and reflection in Chapel is useful for everybody of course, whatever our current beliefs and practices are. We all desperately need those increasingly rare times of calm and wonder in our lives, and Chapel offers that opportunity.”
“We always need to interpret the faith afresh in each generation, finding ways that can connect and we can relate to closely, but at the same time we have this really rich tradition, where we find the impetus to renewal from the ancient and eternal.
“I think it’s about holding both of those things together, very intentionally”.