Letter to the Parish Autumn 2017Letter to the Parish from The Team Rector

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,  August 28th 2017

As many of you know, I suffered cardiac arrest on the morning of July 5th while cycling along Audlett Drive to Radley Station. I was saved only by the quick and effective performance of CPR by a succession of passers-by, policemen, an air-ambulance medic, and an ambulance team. I was taken to the John Radcliffe Hospital where a cardiac surgeon inserted numerous stents in the rear lower descending artery of my heart. I remember nothing of the event or of the succeeding days in Intensive Care. Thank God, there seems to have been only a small amount of damage to the heart, and I was sent home four days later with an expectation and regimen for well-nigh full recovery over a somewhat indeterminate period. I had the pleasure of seeing and talking with some of you in those weeks of July. I felt blessed by the huge number of cards, with prayers and messages which many of you sent or dropped through the letterbox.


Unfortunately, unknown to me and undetected by my GP, the intensive application of CPR caused major damage to my left lung and pleura [the area around the lung itself and between the rib-cage]. So over the weeks I developed pneumonia, and the left pleura began to fill with liquid. It became increasing painful to breathe.

Early in the morning of August 9th, with acute left chest pain and muscle spasm, I called the ambulance, and was brought to the emergency assessment unit of the JR. Then began a three-week marathon of assessment, diagnosis and treatment which took me through at least five hospital units and wards. In the end, after diagnosis and curative plan had been settled by the inter-disciplinary team, a fine chest surgeon operated on the left lung to remove all fluids and deal with infections. The planned two-hour surgery under general anaesthesia took nearly six, and seems to have been ‘successful’. As I write this I await confirmation that I will be discharged imminently. More than anything I want to be home.

At every level—physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual—I feel deeply affected and irrevocably changed in ways I cannot yet express. A long convalescence at all levels now begins; I remain extremely weak, and normalcy will come slowly. We will discover together what that will mean. Through all of this I have been sustained by your prayers. I ask that you continue to pray for me, as I, believe it or not, through all of this have been praying for you. Having been snatched from my flock by infirmity, and with no altar for all of us to gather ‘round together, how else could I fulfil ‘the priestly service of the gospel of God’ [Romans 15.16] to which I have been called but by such intercession for you?

At the same time, I profoundly appreciate the pastoral care which fellow- clergy, led by Fr Paul, have offered through these weeks.

May the triune God continue to bless us all in ways seen and unseen in the weeks and months ahead.

The Revd Dr Charles Miller, Team Rector


I would like to add my thanks to all who have been working hard in different ways during the Team Rector’s current illness. I am most grateful to Wardens, and to all those clergy who have stepped in and covered services. It is very good that Jane has returned from Sabbatical and we look forward to her return among us. I would like to express my personal thanks to Mary who has been such a steadying hand and calm influence to whom I owe a huge debt of gratitude. In all we do at this time, we continue to pray for

Charles’ full recovery and restoration to us.

Fr Paul Smith, Team Vicar


Other Clergy News

We are preparing to say farewell to two people who have been part of our team:
The Revd Hilary Watkins will be moving to York in early October. Hilary has been in Abingdon for many years and has been part of the ministry team since retiring from her parishes in Somerset. She will be taking her last services in this Parish during September

The Revd Stuart Richards, an army chaplain based at Dalton Barracks, has been involved in the parish since his posting here. Although he has now been posted to Wiltshire, he has not yet moved house and is, therefore, temporarily still in the Parish at weekends. His last service with us may be when he presides at St Helen’s Patronal Festival on 17th September.

We are very grateful to Hilary and Stuart for their work and presence in the parish and wish them well for the future.

We are also pleased to announce that the new Director of Music for St Helen’s Church, Dr Peter Foster, will take up the post on Monday 18th September 2017.



On Friday 29 September, on the Feast of St Michael and All Angels, we observe our Patronal Festival at 19.30hrs with a Festal Mass, followed by a drinks reception. We shall welcome Bishop Rowan Williams, now Master of Magdelene College, Cambridge, who will preside and preach. During the Mass he will Confirm three candidates from St Michael’s who have recently completed Confirmation preparation. This Patronal Festival marks the end of our 150th Anniversary and so it is very much a parish occasion too. Please do come along and join us in worship and thanksgiving for 150 years at St Michael’s.

A Flower Festival, with arrangements on the theme of Angels, will also take place over the weekend, beginning on Thursday 28th and concluding on Sunday 1 October.