Posted: 02 February 2012

I met the Archbishop

A few years back, when I was on a train to college, I picked up a copy of the Metro and came across an article about a Ugandan being installed as the Archbishop of York. As it turned out, the bishop was a man my father had often told me about as a boy, Dr John Sentamu, who played a prominent role in the early Ugandan judicial system.

On that day on the train I promised myself to one day meet the Archbishop in person. Because of my work with The Children's Society and its ties to the Church of England, my chances seemed good.

This year, The Children’s Society chose me to represent young people at its Edward Rudolf Lecture. I was honoured and slightly nervous because the speech was to be delivered by the man I’d heard great things about throughout my life, the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu.

'The most outspoken and funniest bishop'

The lecture was held at Church House Westminster and focused on the Good Childhood Report 2012.

Before long I discovered why the Archbishop of York is known as the most outspoken and funniest bishop. Shortly after he took the stage, he shot a look that suggested that he was having a bit of trouble referring to the PowerPoint projection and maintaining the lecture at the same time, so he asked for it to be switched off.

The Archbishop said: 'People nowadays show you words and then they tell you the very same words you’re looking at.'

Throughout the lecture, the Archbishop’s indisputable passion for children and young people was clear for everyone in the hall to witness. He spoke with intent from the heart and expressed his concerns about children and young people’s wellbeing and future prospects.

Speed doesn’t boost children’s well-being

He reiterated his point that adults and the government should not encourage young people to grow up at an ever-faster rate because that is not necessarily good for children’s well-being.

A family man himself, I found the Archbishop's metaphor both entertaining and factual. He said, 'just because a cow is grazing on green grass, you should never assume it is enjoying itself. Instead you should check the look on the cow's face to tell you if that cow is really enjoying itself.'

Family and community support

The Archbishop also expressed the importance a role family plays in the development of a child. He went on to explain that even though the Church states that a family where both parents are married is the best place to raise a child, it did not only have to work that way.

Dr Sentamu gave an example of his own upbringing and explained important role of extended families. He said, 'Indeed it takes a village to raise a child.' As a Ugandan, I concurred and thought that perhaps this practice could be taken up in other countries as well.

Shaking hands with the Archbishop

After the speech, I had the honour of meeting the Archbishop and shaking his hand.

He asked me about myself, whether I still used my native language from Uganda, what tribe I was from and what clan. Once I realised who I was speaking to, I got a little nervous but it was very good and interesting to talk to him. He was very normal and quite funny as well. Even at dinner after the speech he was cracking jokes.

In conclusion I would like to thank The Children’s Society for providing me with the opportunity to finally meet the Archbishop. I never envisioned shaking hands with the man himself let alone have dinner with him and several others working to benefit young people’s well-being.

It was such a lovely inspiring evening and, as a young person, it was also nice to see such a lot of important people supporting the vitally important work of The Children’s Society.

By Henry Katende, young people's representative at the Edward Rudolf Lecture

Henry Katende standing beside the Archbishop of York

Henry Katende and the Archbishop of York

By Henry Katende - Guest bloggers

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It is really cool that you got to meet him and shake his hand and that he knew your father. It take a lot of family members and a great church family to raise a child. I don't know that I would go so far as to say that it takes a village to raise a child. People have different views so surrounding yourself with helpful like-minded people when raising children is important.