News

Living with Dying: Bishop of East Anglia

21/04/2011 9:00 am

(Photo of Bishop Michael Evans)
Ahead of the Easter weekend and bank holiday, Bishop Michael Evans, Bishop of East Anglia, has spoken movingly about living with a terminal illness and his final journey to God.
 
Speaking earlier this week to BBC Look East Presenter, Stewart White, Bishop Evans said:
 
"I am pleased to have these kinds of interviews... an opportunity to talk about faith because people don’t talk about faith at the moment and death and resurrection play no part in people’s thinking at all and yet at the very heart of our Christian faith is the whole idea of dying and rising, of moving through things to something even better."
 
He added: "My message… is the message of the Good News of the Gospel, that we go through death to resurrection, that if there is pain we go through that to something even better and therefore there is a way forward. We’re not about standing still and just being who we are. We are doing our best to be people on a journey, on a pilgrimage and a joyful one. I’d like to see more smiles."

The interview can be viewed at: bbc.co.uk

Please note: No further interviews are being offered at this time and this interview is © BBC Look East and cannot be embedded on any site.

Interview Transcript

Bishop Evans: Once I was diagnosed with having cancer, especially in December when and told that I just had a few weeks to live, I set myself a lot of milestones and one of the key ones was the Chrism Mass*. To be able to celebrate this with my diocese, with the priests and people of the diocese will be a wonderfully joyful occasion I hope.

Stewart White: The problem with setting a milestone is that once you’ve reached it there might be a temptation to say, ‘I’ve done it now’ and give up.
 
Bishop Evans: That would be the temptation but I think I’m going to continue with lots of milestones, some of them won’t be quite as big as the Chrism Mass, some will be little things and I’ve got four or five other things which I’m really prepared for. Once I’ve done those I’ll say ‘Well, I’m still here’, which has been my theme for the last year - ‘I’m still here’ – and then say ‘I want to be there for that as well.’
 

Steward White: Has having the cancer tested your faith? Have you had those "Why me?" moments?

 
Bishop Evans: I’ve had those ‘Why me?’ moments but I can’t do anything about it. Once you’re told that you’re dying, you can’t do anything about it and I’ve tended to adopt the motto of ‘Living with Dying’, in other words, not to give up on it but make it a positive thing as far as possible, full of hope and trust in so far as I can. But yes, there are those moments when I think, "Why me and why is this happening to me?" as anyone would I think.
 

Stewart White: But it hasn’t tested your faith?
 
Bishop Evans: It hasn’t tested my faith. I’m still very much a believer. I’m not saying that there haven’t been times of doubt, of worry and concern, about what’s going to happen and how it is going to happen and when it’s going to happen because I don’t know yet.
 
Stewart White: Does it help to talk about it and to use this as a moment when you can give strength and courage to other people as well?

Bishop Evans: I think it does, that’s why I am pleased to have these kinds of interviews... an opportunity to talk about faith because people don’t talk about faith at the moment and death and resurrection play no part in people’s thinking at all and yet at the very heart of our Christian faith is the whole idea of dying and rising of moving through things to something even better.
 
Stewart White: When the day does come there are going to be lots of people in this region who will be very sad, what will be your message to those people?

Bishop Evans: My message to them is the message of the Good News of the Gospel, that we go through death to resurrection, that if there is pain we go through that to something even better and therefore there is a way forward. We’re not about standing still and just being who we are. We are doing our best to be people on a journey, on a pilgrimage and a joyful one. I’d like to see more smiles.
 
 
*Chrism Mass is celebrated once a year in Catholic Cathedrals and is one of the most solemn and significant liturgies in the Church. During the Mass the bishop blesses the holy oils that will be used throughout the year in the life of the Church; for example when praying with the sick, at baptisms, confirmations, the ordination of priests, as well as on other occasions.

Links

Diocese of East Anglia
 
Catholic Enquiry Office
 
Home Mission Desk
Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales
 
Lent and Easter
 
The Passion of Jesus Christ

Jesus’ purpose on earth
 
Why do people needlessly suffer?

What happens after we die?