Among those being ordained as Priest during this year’s Petertide Ordinations is Revd Arwen Folkes.
This year’s services take place at Truro Cathedral on Friday, June 30 at 6.30pm and Saturday, July 1 at 10.30am with the Rt Revd Tim Thornton, leading what will be his last ordinations as Bishop of Truro.
Arwen was one of seven who were ordained as Deacons at last year’s Petertide service and since then has spent her first year as Assistant Curate in the Benefice of St Just in Roseland and St Mawes.
Reflecting on the last 12 months, Arwen said: “It has been a year of many firsts, many stories, and many opportunities. I have learnt so much about my community, myself, and God.
“I have really loved being a Deacon, there is something so special about this ministry; it has been a time set apart for reaching out, having conversations, and listening carefully. I have found that I am now both a hearer and teller of stories. I have also found that every single person I meet is extraordinary and fascinating. It has been a year of real privilege and I am humbled by the trust people place in the office I now carry.”
Arwen was ordained Deacon last year, having returned to the county with her family after three years studying in Cambridge.
At the time she said: “It’s amazing how God sometimes works in a circular way. You can actually see my old home from the new parish.”
Arwen spent her first nine years at The Lizard Lighthouse, where her father was a lighthouse-keeper. She later spent time working and living in Truro and North Cornwall. It was while in North Cornwall that she had her family with William, served as a District Councillor, and set up the Cornish Social Enterprise ‘Real Baby Milk’.
Reflecting on her path, Arwen feels that all these roles prepared the ground for her true vocation to emerge. “I increasingly became aware that I was participating with a creator God in having children. Then I realized that both my working roles were involved with building and supporting communities. I have been reflecting, throughout my theological education, on the differences and similarities between those experiences and the church as the body of Christ.”
Although her roles helped prepare the vocational ground, Arwen’s spiritual formation had really begun much earlier. “I was first baptized and raised Roman Catholic and remember feeling strongly drawn to the religious life, either as a Nun or as a Priest, at a very early age.”
Life however, as it sometimes does, twisted and turned away from the church over the years, and yet when Arwen returned to join the Anglican Church over 20 years later her first early Christian experience re-emerged with a force. “It was just like coming home, a real prodigal son story, my heart clicked back into it all before my head did, but the experience was so intense and all consuming that I had no option but to follow the call and see where it led. I just remember returning to the altar rail, receiving the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ after such a long time away, and it was an incredible sense of being called, loved, and held once more.”
The call first led Arwen to spend two years studying theology part-time with the Readers in the Diocese of Truro and then take up a full-time place at Westcott House Theological College in Cambridge. The family left their home in Bodmin to be in Cambridge for three years. Arwen’s main interests are Biblical studies, philosophical theology (especially Augustine of Hippo), Christian education, and Homiletics in the rhetorical traditions.
“Being called to serve in this beautiful place is an immense privilege and yet there are really special and specific needs which the church is well placed to respond to.”