It is a long time since I have travelled out of Brussels – and a long time since I have written a blog. So I am very pleased to be able to share an account now of the licensing of The Revd. Guy Diakiese Matumona as Chaplain of the Anglican Church Liège.
Liège used to be part of the industrial heartland of Wallonia in Belgium known for its iron and steelmaking. Today it supports modern manufacturing and electronics as well as the delicious Galler chocolate and Belgium’s best-selling Jupiler beer. It is also home to tens of thousands of students.
The picture shows the view across the city and the Meuse river from the top of the ‘Montagne de Beuren’. With 374 steps it can justifiably claim to be an ‘extreme’ staircase – the kind of ascent that would be a cable car if it were in Switzerland or a set of escalators if it were in Hong Kong.
The English Church of Liège meets in an Adventist building. (Adventists make particularly good hosts for us because they don’t use their churches on Sundays). Whereas Liège is a big city, our chaplaincy is only small, and it has been through difficult times in recent years. For a while, it looked like we would not be able to restart paid ministry. But with support from the Belgian State and a pan-diocesan Lent Appeal we have been able to do something which had earlier seemed impossible: select, appoint and install a new full-time priest.
The Reverend Guy Diakiese is a truly cosmopolitan priest – educated in philosophy and theology in Nigeria and Rome, fluent in French, Italian and English, and having served his curacy in The Hague. I ordained Guy as Deacon and as Priest, so it was a great delight to be licensing him now to his first incumbency in our Diocese.
All those of us who have been involved with Guy’s training and development in the Diocese regard him as a treasure. He has much to do to help the chaplaincy recover its confidence. There is then a potentially huge field of mission in the city of Liège.
Here is Guy with the parish representatives: Ruth from Belgium and Rathna from Chennai. The representatives and churchwardens have done a great job in keeping the flame of faith burning in their chaplaincy in difficult circumstances and all the privations of Covid-19. Today, 7th March, was the first time the chaplaincy has gathered for physical worship since Belgium’s second lockdown.
Canon Jack McDonald, second from right, next to James the usher, overseas our relationship with the Belgian State, and I was particularly pleased that he was able to attend Guy’s licensing.
Guy will have good friends and colleagues amongst our Belgian clergy. But Liège is in the East of Belgium and our only chaplaincy in the Wallonia Region, so it is a potentially isolated ministry.
Please do join with me in praying that Guy will find a ready welcome, settle quickly into this multicultural city, and see both spiritual and numerical growth in the Anglican chaplaincy of Liège.