The transition from Cathedral Dean to school Chaplain might not be the usual move for an Anglican clergyperson, but for Reverend Peter Rickman this was a decision he felt quite strongly about.
Revd Rickman has stepped down as Dean of the Waikato Cathedral Church of St Peter to take on the role of Chaplain at St Paul’s Collegiate School – a role he held back in the early 2000s.
An “unexpected personal choice” is how Revd Rickman describes his shift. “One of the Archdeacons actually asked if I had been a naughty boy – it is quite unusual. However, in our line of work, we don’t talk about career progression as such, but rather vocations – a sense of calling to serve in a variety of different areas within the church and community.
“When the St Paul’s Headmaster asked if I might consider returning to chaplaincy upon the departure of Reverend Stephenson, my first thought – given my position at the time – was to say no. But vocationally it wouldn’t go away, it was like trying to shut a door that won’t close,” he says.
It was during the school’s production of Jekyll & Hyde last year that Revd Rickman felt he had to return. “Seeing the energy, vibrancy and talent of not just the students, but that staff as well, left me feeling eager to re-join this large and diverse school community,” he says.
Revd Rickman was Chaplain at St Paul’s from 2001-2004 and he’s never lost contact with the school. “I’ve stayed connected through the Collegians network and I was a member of the Board of Trustees. I also have two sons there and a daughter to come in a few years’ time,” he says.
With about 20 years’ experience in the Anglican Church of New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the USA, Revd Rickman has served in a number of roles including prison chaplaincy and running three parishes in England.
During his time as Dean of the Waikato Cathedral, he made some significant differences within the Hamilton community. This included working with the People’s Project to implement the ministry programme for the homeless, developing relationships with local mental health services and starting up a youth programme through the Cathedral.
“I’ve always enjoyed working with young people – particularly today’s generation with the challenges they face and the pastoral care that surrounds that, another reason why school chaplaincy is a good fit for me,” he says.
But working with young people does come with its challenges. “First and foremost I have to be authentic – it is important to be yourself. I’m also very conscious that you can give young people too much religion to put them off for the rest of their lives, so I try not to be too intense.”
Outside the church, Revd Rickman has experience as a community ambulance first responder; he is a kayak and sailing instructor for the Hamilton Sea Scouts and a qualified scuba dive instructor.
“We feel extremely fortunate to welcome Revd Rickman back as our school Chaplain, he understands the school well, has superb pastoral and guidance skills, relates well to young people and will prove a powerfully positive influence in our school chapel services,” says St Paul’s Headmaster Grant Lander.