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Catholic Dean of the Bailiwick speaks of faith, hope and charity

Catholic Dean of the Bailiwick speaks of faith, hope and charity

Friday 24 December 2021

Catholic Dean of the Bailiwick speaks of faith, hope and charity

Friday 24 December 2021

At the end of his first full year in Guernsey, the Catholic Dean, Rev. Canon Christopher Rutledge, reflects on the uniqueness of the Bailiwick and the simple meaning of Christmas.

"I’ve been living in Guernsey now for 15 months and I can honestly say it’s a most wonderful place to live.

15 months ago, after spending one week in isolation, I was desperate to get out of the house and explore the island.

I asked: 'Do you have any cliff walks here?'

'Oh yes, we certainly do. Go along to the cliff walks at Jerbourg.'

I remember it was a beautiful sunny day and when I arrived on the cliffs, which had a fantastic view out to sea, I had just one word to say - and that was a loud 'wow'.

From that day, I have become passionate about Guernsey.


Pictured: A walk at the cliffs at Jerbourg made Canon Rutledge appreciate the beauty and passion of the Bailiwick. Credit: Visit Guernsey.

I think it’s also true to say that the Channel Islands are the best kept secret from the UK. I was born in the UK and all I really knew of the Channel Islands was that they were down there somewhere near France and that sometimes they were mentioned on the BBC weather forecast - and not to mention a certain potato from the other island.

When I mention to friends on the mainland that I live in Guernsey, they often reply: 'Oh yes, I’ve been to Jersey' - as if Guernsey and Jersey are interchangeable. I have come to appreciate the friendly rivalry between the islands and I don’t think I will ever see a United Channel Islands Archipelago.

We are proud islanders on our respective islands, each with its own history. It has been fascinating learning how the States’ Government functions, living without the NHS, driving at just 35mph top speed and the charming hedge veg.

As the Catholic Dean and Parish Priest of Guernsey, I must lead the Parish that has been entrusted to me, by my Bishop, with faith, love and charity. And those same qualities I’ve seen present in the Island. You could sum up those qualities with one word - passion.

There is a passion for our island. There is passion for the island in those who I would not necessarily agree with. But I would fight for the right for all people to express their views.   

You may recall the Christmas Song ‘The Days of Christmas’.

On the first day of Christmas my true love sent to me . . . . . .

A partridge in a pear tree is Jesus Christ;

Two turtle doves is the Old and New Testament;

Three French hens are the three virtues of faith, hope and charity; 

Four calling birds are the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Those different types of bird, in a way, sum up the ministry of the priesthood. To be as Christ, to study the scriptures, to proclaim the gospels, with those three virtues in my life and being.


Pictured: St Joseph and St Mary Church in La Couperderie will host two services on Christmas Eve and several others over the next few days. 

This song is not just an ear worm for Christmas, but really an easy way to remember the faith in Christ. I leave you to do a bit of homework for the rest of the song.

I am discovering new things about the rich history here in Guernsey. I didn’t have the privilege of being born here, so I cannot ever be a true Guern, but it is my adopted home now for which I have great love.

As you walk around our island, you cannot help notice our ancient links with Christianity. The ancient parishes still stand, each with their church as a testament to Christ.

Sadly, we seem be moving to an ever-increasing secular society, but there is always room for faith, hope and charity or to put it another way for love, loyalty and friendship.

These are the virtues we must all try to live by, whether you are a person of faith or not.

As we ponder the Christ Child born for us anew each year, it gives us the opportunity to look within our hearts to that deep-seated faith, which I firmly believe is within us, although deeply buried in some.

And what of these days of Christmas?

Well, it’s really simple: Jesus is the reason for the season.

Happy Christmas! 

Rev. Canon Christopher Rutledge

Catholic Dean of the Bailiwick of Guernsey  

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