A friend of mine is a deacon in the Catholic Church in Maidstone, Kent. He writes what he calls a diary. But in fact, these are what he has written if he were giving a sermon. Ian Black and his wife Angela I have known before they were married when they were young people from the Southwark diocese who went on the 42nd Eucharistic Congress in Lourdes, in July 1981. I was in charge of organising the arrival of 300 young people to attend from England and Wales.

Ever since those days I have been in touch with Ian and Angela and I am Godfather to their youngest son Joseph. This is what it says on the parish website:

Rev. Ian Black – Parish Deacon

I was born in 1964, growing up in and around Thornton Heath, South London. In 1987 I moved to Maidstone, and Angela and I were married in St Francis later that year. We have lived in the parish since then. We have 4 children, who all went to St Simon Stock Catholic School, Tom – a doctor in Scotland, Peter – a medical engineer in Hampshire, Joe who works in one of our local primary schools and Vicky who is at Oxford Brooke’s University studying nursing.

Professionally from 1985 to 2015 I worked for the London Fire Brigade, as a firefighter and operational Senior Officer, and having moved up through the ranks I served in a variety of roles and at various stations. Before retirement after 30+ years service, I was the Borough Commander for Lambeth, and then headed up a specialist team at Brigade Headquarters. One claim to fame is that I was the Incident Commander at the Vauxhall Helicopter crash in 2013.

After years of helping with various activities within the parish, including running the Confirmation programme, I was accepted for formation to become a Permanent Deacon. On July 19th 2014, I was ordained here at St Francis’ and now have a number of duties as a deacon. In addition to the parish, I am a Clergy Chaplain at St Simon Stock Catholic School, on the Chaplaincy team at Maidstone Hospital and an Assistant Chaplain for the London Fire Brigade. Additionally, in 2018 I was appointed as the Assistant Director for Diaconal Formation, responsible for the Kent pastoral area in Southwark diocese.

His “diaries” are very good indeed and he has given me permission to put them on the website. We begin with one that has the title: God’s Love. There are two reasons why I would like to begin with that. God’s love is the beginning and end of the Christian life. Secondly today was the funeral of Harry Embery and at mass this morning, by chance I found the theme was the same. Harry Embery with his wife June, were very active in the parish and were much loved. They like many people who have died here and many others who are still living were and are a part of my life.

I hope this may give a bit of encouragement to us all, written by a down to earth ex-fireman and family man.

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