Tuesday 20 March 2018

The boss is Jesus Christ, and when you forget that, you go off the rails

Trevor Sargent (56), former Green Party leader, now training to be a Church of Ireland Minister

Trevor Sargent photographed in St. Iberius church Wexford. Photo: Mary Browne
Trevor Sargent photographed in St. Iberius church Wexford. Photo: Mary Browne
Kim Bielenberg

Kim Bielenberg

After a career in politics, the former leader of the Green Party Trevor Sargent is set to become a priest in the Church of Ireland.

A decade ago, the TD for Dublin North became a Minister of State in a Fianna Fáil/Green coalition government.

Now he is about to answer God's calling as a Minister of the church.

Sargent has always been an active worshipper throughout his political career, and was church warden in his local parish in Balbriggan.

Since he lost his seat in 2011, he has moved to Wexford, where he lives with his second wife, Aine Neville. They are involved in organic horticulture.

"I have had a calling to the church since my school days," says Sargent. "The long and winding road that we go on is sometimes hard to account for."

He has been training as an ordinand at the Church of Ireland Theological Institute. He is also studying for a Masters degree in Theology at Trinity College.

If his training goes to plan, Sargent will first be ordained a deacon, and he could become a priest in the Church of Ireland soon after that.

So what drew him to the church?

"The nature of a Christian calling has involved me in teaching and politics.

"This is a more clear-cut expression of that calling. It's holistic in that one's physical, mental and spiritual life is integrated more completely than in a walk of life where one might not be free to express one's faith."

Sargent says a life in politics and a life in the church are similar in some ways, but different in others.

"The common theme ought to be a sense of service. But the nature of a Christian calling is that you are never the boss, you are always the servant.

"The boss is Jesus Christ, and when you forget that you go off the rails.

"In politics you have to convey the idea that you are superhuman, because your competitors are going to convey that (they are)."

He acknowledges that the church is a human organisation, however.

"As somebody pointed out, the church is a hospital for sinners, not a hotel for saints."

As a politician, Sargent felt constrained in expressing his faith publicly, but he still found time for prayer.

He sometimes slipped out of the Dáil to St Anne's Church on Dawson Street at lunchtime for Holy Communion.

He does not miss the hurly-burly of politics.

"It's like any vocation. When you are called, you are called. When you are finished, you move on - and I don't like to live in the past."

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