Monday, 29th January, 2001: in which I cross the Rubicon, if not the Tiber, and Anthony Fisher gives me good news and bad news.
Okay. I am telling people now that I may not yet have crossed the Tiber, but I have certainly crossed the Rubicon. “Elea iacta est”, as Ceasar said.
I rang my seminary mentor to tell him I wouldn’t be coming to this next round of Commission on Worship meetings, because I was taking leave of absence to determine whether I would join the Catholic Church. He tried to encourage me still to come, but I said it wasn’t worth paying the airfare. For a start, I could have a job by then, and be unable to come (hence, it would be a waste of the church’s valuable money); secondly, I didn’t think I should be away from Cathy and the kids at this time; finally, I thought it was not valid for me to be involved with something that I am no longer fully committed to. He accepted all this with genuine sadness.
On Friday there was a ‘Pastor’s Wives’ lunch at Holmes, but really it was just Holmes’, Brook’s, and ourselves there. Still, it was a good opportunity for the two of us to talk to Andrew, and for Jodie and Cathy to talk with Susie. Andrew is one of those who listens, understanding that the issues we have dealt with are serious, and not just us “doing our thing”.
After this, I had an appointment with Anthony Fisher. He had rung me to say that he had something he wanted to tell me after his interview with the Vicar General (Bishop Denis Hart) and the Archbishop (George Pell). It was a bit of a “good news” / “bad news” interview. The good news was that I would not need to worry about employment; that when I needed something, there would be something. Anthony said, “for instance, if you last out to Easter, we will have something for you.” But it did not matter if I found a secular job in the meantime, and that if I needed something sooner, he would put the pressure on the guys at the top to do something. Basically, my CV has been circulated among the various personnel offices of the Catholic Church and its agencies and schools, and they will contact me if there is anything going. A job will not simply be created for me, however.
The “bad news” on the other hand was that Anthony did everything he could to discourage me from thinking that ordination is anything other than a far shot for me. He said that the Vicar General seemed distinctly uneasy about the suggestion of ordination in my case, because of my “messy” marital situation. Furthermore, there is the problem of Cathy not being a Catholic. None of these reasons mean definitely that I will not be accepted for ordination, but they raise question marks.
Then we finished by talking about P. Anthony said: “It is bizarre that there is this figure there who is ushering you into the church and who isn’t going in himself.” And after I had made some reference to “bloody P.”, Anthony said: “Tell “bloody P.” that he had better come and see me soon; he might die tomorrow.”
The rest of the day was a bit of a daze, as I tried to take all this in. I had a wedding rehearsal at Moorabbin after seeing Anthony, and I think I drove all the way there and back home without really concentrating on my driving.