New DDO and her new book JUne 2014


undefinedThe Bishop of Chester has appointed the Revd MAGDALEN SMITH to be Diocesan Director of Ordinands (DDO). Magdalen will continue as Associate Priest at St Bartholomew's, Wilmslow parish. She will be licensed as DDO by Bishop Peter in his chapel on 24 September. READ ON for more about Magdalen, her new book and RAY SAMUELS' reflection on retiring as DDO

Magdalen Smith said: “I’m delighted to be taking over from Ray in September. He’s been a very thorough, rigorous, compassionate and organised DDO. I am fortunate to be inheriting the culture and systems he has laid down.

“It’s always a privilege to hear people’s stories of how God is working in their lives. I’m very much looking forward to sitting with people, listening to them, and helping them to progress towards leadership in the church.“

Magdalen’s new book ‘Steel Angels: The Personal Qualities of a Priest’ is to be published on 19 June. It is a reflective book, using personal stories, examples from the world of visual art, film and contemporary culture to make connections with how people experience faith and church in the 21st century. Published by SPCK, it costs £10.99 in bookshops and can be purchased via Amazon.

Magdalen said: “I’ve felt the urge to write for quite a long time but like most new authors felt I wouldn’t be very good at it. My Dad was a theological writer in his day so maybe it runs in the family.

“More than anything I wanted to write a realistic book about qualities needed for Christian leadership today – to write about how it really feels to be a priest in today’s church as well as looking forwards to what will be needed in the future. The book is for clergy beginning their journey but also for those reflecting on their own changing ministry.

“I hope ‘Steel Angels’ can be a useful resource for our diocese as well as painting a picture of hope for present and future leaders today."

The Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Dr Peter Forster, said: “We have experienced an encouraging growth in vocations in our diocese during Ray Samuels' time as DDO. I’m very grateful for his steady hand, wisdom and enthusiasm in the role. I wish him every success in his new ministry.

“I am sure Magdalen Smith will carry on the good work in helping people discern their vocations, and her careful study and reflection on contemporary ordained ministry will be of great value.”

Ray Samuels is retiring after 11 ½ years as DDO, during which time exactly 200 people were ordained.

He said: “One of the biggest challenges in the early days was to understand the system and develop ways of personalising and improving it. In place of a parish I had people of all ages enquiring about ordination, ordinands in training and curates in their first year of curacy.

“It’s so satisfying to have worked with so many people whose names now appear in the diocesan handbook. From the start I was impressed by their quality. It has been humbling to see their level of commitment and sacrifice and to hear such amazing stories of how God has moved in their lives.”

Ray points out a ‘happy’ trend in priestly vocations - the average age of those seeking stipendiary ministry has come down in the last five or six years;  nationally 22 per cent in training are now under 30. 

Ray is moving to become a ‘House for Duty’ vicar in Alvanley and Manley in the Frodsham deanery. He added: “It will be good to get back to what I was ordained to do, but I shall always be grateful for the opportunity to have done such a privileged job. What could be more important than helping people to hear what God wants them to do with their lives?”

Above ... Magdalen Smith with her new book about priests

Below ... retiring DDO Ray Samuels, impressed with quality of ordinands


Page last updated: 9th Jun 2014 12:00 AM