Diocese of Portsmouth

    History made in Isle of Wight school

    28 March 2024

    HISTORY was made in the Isle of Wight's largest worshipping community, as three female priests led its Communion services ahead of Easter.

    Hundreds of students from Christ the King College, the joint Church of England/Roman Catholic secondary school in Newport, were given the chance to recall the events of Holy Week during services on March 27. The services were led by Canon Sarah Chapman, the Rev Leisa Potter and the Rev Emma Cooksey.

    And it was an appropriate way to recall the 30th anniversary since women were first ordained in the Church of England in March 1994. The services were enhanced by three student-led worship bands and students leading the prayers at all of the services.

    And another first for Christ the King College was to run four Holy Communion and Mass services simultaneously for the whole college community. This meant that 150 Catholic pupils and staff were in the St Mary's Church of England Church in Carisbrooke for a Catholic Mass led by Fr Stephen Vooght, with the Rev Steve Sutcliffe supporting.

    Year 11 and the Sixth Form had the privilege of hearing from Canon Sarah Chapman who was ordained in May 1994 and was, most recently, interim team rector of Newport and Carisbrooke with Gatcombe. Sarah wore the stole that she wore when she was priested 30 years ago and talked about the historic moment for the school. All listened attentively and were fascinated by her journey.

    The service for 340 students from Years 9 and 10 was led by the Rev Emma Cooksey, team vicar at Newport and Carisbrooke, who works with and supports Christ the King College on a regular basis. The school chaplains presented Emma with flowers and a card to thank her for her continued support for the chaplaincy there. Emma was ordained in 2018 in the Diocese of Lichfield by Bishop Michael Ipgrave. Most recently, she has worked with students in making creative Lent reflections within the chapel.

    The Rev Leisa Potter, team rector of the West Wight Mission Community led the service for 375 Year 7 and 8 students. Leisa was the first priest in the Church of England to be ordained by its fourth female bishop, the Rt Rev Sarah Mullally, now Bishop of London.

    The Rev Leisa Potter leads a Communion service within Christ the King College

    The students heard the story of Jesus and his disciples at The Last Supper, and reflected on the way people can gather around tables for discussion, reconciliation and inclusion.

    And on Maundy Thursday, Christ the King College students and staff are demonstrating their faith in action in two ways. Students are paying £1 each for a non-uniform day in aid of Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance. And the Year 12 young leaders for CAFOD (Catholic Agency for Overseas Development) are holding a bake sale to support humanitarian aid in Gaza.


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