When the spirit moves

Christine Robinson, the Vicar of St Anslems Church in North London. She was educated by the Sacred Heart Order of nuns and has fond memories of school. “They were lovely, delightful women, who were very pro girls’ education,” she recalls. Photo: Chris Schmidt.
Christine Robinson, the Vicar of St Anslems Church in North London. She was educated by the Sacred Heart Order of nuns and has fond memories of school. “They were lovely, delightful women, who were very pro girls’ education,” she recalls. Photo: Chris Schmidt.

Lifestyle – Reared a Catholic by her devout Galway parents, Christine Robinson is now a vicar in the Anglican Church in London. She tells Judy Murphy how she came to make the transition.

“I didn’t leave the Catholic Church. I just moved to the Anglican Church,” says Christine Robinson, the Vicar of St Anslems Church in North London.  Christine is London-born but her roots are firmly in South Galway – her parents Annie and Mick emigrated from Kilbeacanty in the late 1950s. While they’d attended the same school in Kilbeacanty, it was in London that they met and married.

Reared in a Catholic family among Ireland’s emigrant community, Christine’s journey to Anglicanism began as an adult and eventually resulted in her ordination in 2007. While that might seem like a big transition for a London-Irish Catholic, it was a natural evolution, she says.

Christine was one of six children, five girls and a boy and her parents were part of the London-Irish emigrant scene, attending dances in Kilburn and going to Mass every Sunday. They mixed with fellow Irish people and remained devout Catholics until the end of their days. Christine’s mother died just last December and is much missed by her family. She was buried alongside her husband, back in Kilbeacanty.

As children, the family came home every Summer and Christine’s adult children continue to love their Galway visits.

“Your identity was very clear,” Christine recalls of growing up in London in the 1970s. “You were a Roman Catholic and it mattered and was important.”

Her parents and their friends missed what they had left behind, so their Irish identity was hugely important and Catholicism was integral to that.

Christine now ministers in a parish which has a high percentage of immigrants from eastern Europe; she says the same is true for those new immigrants.

She was educated by the Sacred Heart Order of nuns and has fond memories of school.

“They were lovely, delightful women, who were very pro girls’ education,” she recalls.

Much later in life, Christine discovered that she had received Confirmation from Bishop Eamonn Casey during his time in London, long before any scandal was attached to him.

“I only discovered he had Confirmed me when I got my Confirmation Cert for my ordination in 2007.”

By then Christine knew about his fall from grace, but she speaks fondly of him.

“He did an awful lot for the Irish in London,” she says.

After her A Levels, Christine began working, finding her niche in sales and marketing with the Guardian newspaper, which she loved.

“I moved through the system and it was a happy place to work,” she recalls.

And she still called herself a Catholic although she wasn’t really practising.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.