Anthony was born and raised in Cardiff, not far from Roath Park, making his “entrance” in the winter of 1964 and the first boy to be baptised at Christchurch, by Roath Park in Cardiff.
Christchurch was central to Anthony’s life as her grew up, and it was also at Christchurch that he met – and married – Elaine, moving to the Vale of Glamorgan for 11 years before returning to Cardiff (and to regular church) at St Isan’s Church in Llanishen where Canon Neville Jones – who had married and baptized both their children – was vicar.
“Church” now as an adult with responsibilities and a smattering of “life experience” was a very different thing to that which Anthony had experienced growing up. But it was through modern culture (in particular films, popular music, books and poetry) that God spoke most loudly to him, calling to him from within it and making the connection between what he found in the world and the scriptural, biblical narrative in which he’d been marinated as a child and young adult.
Fr Neville first broached the subject of ordination with Anthony in 1987, but it was not for another 13 years (and ironically after Fr Neville’s retirement led to an interregnum) that he volunteered to step a million miles out of my comfort zone by occasionally leading worship… And ‘bang’, he noticed something gentle and persistent that was accompanied by a deep-rooted love of people and the human condition. Anthony also became aware of something that enabled him to do things that he knew were not in his own gift set. Having ‘noticed’ this, he mentioned it to someone and ‘boom’ – the long, slow and winding path to ordination had begun.
Anthony trained, and was ordained as a non-stipendiary minister in 2009 – a full 22 years after Fr Neville first raised the prospect of priesthood with him – and was appointed to the Parish of Caerau with Ely. God then lined up the ducks which enabled him becoming full time, (just like Canada’s ‘Mounties’, God always gets his man (or woman!)), and in 2011 Anthony took up his first full-time appointment in Wick (Vale of Glamorgan), a part of the Llantwit Major Benefice. After five years in Llantwit, initially as curate and then team vicar, he came to the Benefice of Laleston & Merthyr Mawr with PenyFai in 2016 for his first incumbency.
In September 2021 an advert came to him for a post in a newly developing Ministry Area in East Cardiff. To be honest, he wasn’t looking to move but the advert spoke directly to his love of people and the opportunity to extend that love through the life-event services church offers, and particularly to making church welcoming for those who tend not to visit us very often.
Along the way, Anrthony has worked in a variety of fields for HM Customs & Excise and the Welsh Government’s Health Department, but has always had ‘outside’ interests too, chief amongst them getting into the great outdoors: something that is foundational to his understanding of God, faith and our onward albeit never-ending pilgrimage through this world.
Modern culture still booms with God’s presence, and God will speak to Anthony from the midst of almost every film he watches, not to mention lots of popular music, art and poetry. This eclectic mix of influences has combined with his own personal characteristics to mould him into something that might not be ‘stereotypical’ or ‘orthodox’ in terms of being a priest. Although he is anything but brave by nature, it has also led Anthony to shape some of the things he has found most fulfilling as a priest – and that he hopes have encouraged others to experience ‘encounter with God’. Notable amongst these have been life-event and special occasion type services, retreats and the quest throughout the pandemic in Laleston & Merthyr Mawr to break bread outdoors and in the heart of their communities.
It’s fair to say that life now bears no resemblance to the life Anthony knew just 11 years ago. Full-time ministry has undoubtedly done this, but the last 11 years have also been filled with ‘dark valley’ and ‘mountain-top’ moments, chief amongst which have been the arrival of two quite literal ‘God-sends’ (grandsons) and the discovery of a nursing vocation by Anthony and Elaine’s daughter.