It was an emotional day on Sunday as we bade a fond farewell to a much loved figure at Ripon Cathedral and in the wider community.
Over 300 people came to Canon Paul Greenwell’s last service at the cathedral before he takes up the position of Master of the Hull Charterhouse.
Canon Paul has spent 14 years at Ripon – nine of them as Canon Precentor – representing half of his ministry.
At a reception following Sunday’s service Dean John announced that Canon Paul had been granted the title Canon Emeritus of Ripon Cathedral by the Bishop of Leeds, the Right Rev Nick Baines. This means that Canon Paul will retain his title – and be forever part of St Peter’s and St Wilfrid’s Cathedral.
Canon Paul was presented with gifts from the congregation and clergy. In his speech Dean John said: “There are many people in Ripon who have known Canon Paul for a long time and who have appreciated hugely his outstanding skills as a pastor. Little wonder he would later become a chaplain to a hospital and a hospice.
“There are countless people in this community who have been visited by him – at home or in hospital – turning up with his smile, his infectious enthusiasm and his warmth. Countless people will also remember his ministry in pastoral services – baptisms, weddings and funerals. It seems obvious to say it, but this is the ministry that binds a priest to the people and results in them taking him (or her) to their heart. Ripon has taken Paul – Canon Paul – to its heart.”
A well known and popular figure Canon Paul will indeed be missed in the city. He said: “I have some amazing memories. Holy Week and Easter are always stunning times in the cathedral cycle of prayer and praise. I think looking back over 14 years most Christmas mornings have been sunny and despite being in the midst of winter it has felt like the first day of spring in Ripon.
“One of the hi-lights at Ripon Cathedral is the daily heartbeat of prayer and praise and every single day of my time here I have looked forward to being part of all that. To think that this has been going on for nearly 14 centuries – I have been a part of that for 14 years.”
Precentor means premus cantor – first singer in the choir – looking after the music and liturgy at the cathedral. “My music comes from my beloved grandfather who taught me music from being a little boy – he was a great organ player – so in a way I am using my God given gifts,” continued Canon Paul, “I love to sing with the choir and in a funny way our bodies become the sound box; we use our whole bodies to praise God – not just our voices.
“I work hard but I make sure I have other interests which hopefully enrich what I do; I love playing recorders, especially the treble recorder and the oboe. I’ve had some fantastic holidays. I love going on the train and there’s always Betty’s for a Precentorial treat! We have wonderful friends who like to come and share our life here.”
The Hull Charterhouse was founded by Michael de la Pole, Earl of Suffolk , in 1384 – next door to the Carthusian Monastery just outside the Old Town Walls of Hull and boats such eminent figures as William Wilberforce amongst its former trustees.
A residence for people over 60 it was originally home to 13 poor men and 13 poor women who needed the church’s care. Today up to 40 residents live in this close-knit Christian community. Canon Paul becomes the 39th Master.
He said: “It’s a fascinating place to be – it is still serving the same purpose as it did in 1384. Beautiful accommodation centered around the chapel where the residents attend on a Sunday – I’ll be the pastor and priest for those people and their families.
“I have been a hospital chaplain and master of the almshouses so I have a bit of experience in looking after older people – and they can look after me! I enjoy pastoral work and hearing peoples’ stories. I always ask them – what can you pass on to me – what helped you to live so long? Its lovely to share their stories.
“Hull is City of Culture – a fascinating place! I’m looking forward to getting to know the city and its vibrancy. There are some stunning buildings including two medieval churches and a beautiful Georgian sector.”