This week we interview Jamaican-born Rev. Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Chaplain to the House of Commons. Originally from Montego Bay, Jamaica, she is the first black woman and person of Caribbean descent to be appointed Chaplain to the House of Commons. Here are her titles: Priest Vicar of the United Benefice of Holy Trinity with St. Philip, Dalston; Priest Vicar of the All Saints Parish, Haggerston, in the Diocese of London, England; Chaplain to Her Majesty, the Queen, Westminster Abbey. The Newly Appointed: The Speaker’s Chaplain in the United Kingdom Parliament’s House of Commons.
At what age did you decide to become a priest?
By age fourteen I knew I wanted to become a priest.
What was your first reaction when you first learned that you had been chosen from six shortlisted candidates for the position from the one hundred persons that initially applied?
Disbelief. I was certain that someone else would get the position. I was pleasantly surprised. I understand that when the Queen saw my name on the short list her response was something like “oh I know Rose”, and to me that was wonderful and it meant that she knew I was more than capable.
Will you serve in this role as Chaplain to the House of Commons for a particular tenure and if so how long is the tenure?
There is no tenure for this position. I will serve for as long as I possibly can.
Already you are the vicar of Holy Trinity Dalston and All Saints Haggerston. What are some of the things you hope to accomplish in this new role and are you excited?
I am quite excited about this new role and it is also great that I get to remain with both my parishes as well as being speaker in the House of Commons. I have been brought here to do work to the level of excellence that I set for myself, not because people are looking and watching to see. It is rather, my personal commitment. I will have to build a rapport with people, earn the right develop people’s trust, so that they will share with me and I will be better able to minister to them.
How do you consider this role? Is it the greatest achievement of your career and service to God?
It is difficult. Clearly in terms of a national profile it is a very important role. In applying for the post, I didn’t think that way but there was the controversy.
My greatest accomplishment is to be a mother to my children, a wife to my husband and a priest and friend to the people of God given to my care. Cleaning up after an elderly parishioner is more important to me than a title.
As an Ambassador for Christ as well as for the Jamaican Diaspora what type of effect do you hope to have on all young people in the world today?
I would like to make sure it is a positive, wholesome effect; one that encourages the Diaspora especially our young people to become the best in any walk of life. They should never forget God’s goodness and the can see effect of God’s love become reality.
If you were not a priest what other career would you have considered?
A teacher, oh definitely. A teacher.
Do you return to Jamaica at all?
Of course! I go home at least once, sometimes twice per year; at least once.
I have read some of your comments while ‘The Controversy’ was taking place. You remained calm yet proud. How did growing in Jamaica shape this image and build this character?
My exposure to outstanding, spiritual role models in my formative years in Jamaica, gave me the head start and the loving encouragement left a lasting impression on me. Certainly the Montego Bay/Jamaican upbringing influenced me and helped to mold and shape my character and choice of career.
You have made references to Esther in the Bible. Explain to me your role as modern day ‘Esther’.
God’s work needs to get done and I am reminded that for my people, I must do God’s work and I must do with a level of excellence. I am not there for a title or good looks. I have been placed in this position for a Reason. Just like Esther.
Congratulations again on your role as Chaplain to Her Majesty, The Queen, as vicar for two parishes and now on your new role as Chaplain to the House of Commons and Speaker of the House of Parliament. I wish you all the best in doing God’s work by serving His people.
You continue to make Glendevon, Montego Bay, Jamaica, the Caribbean, the African Diaspora, women and of course your schools, especially Montego Bay High School, awfully proud. Thank you so much for your time. May God’s favor continue to shine upon you.
About the Author
Jennifer P. Lumley is an Author & Freelance Writer. Distinguished orator and writer, Jennifer has ably excelled in both the reading and writing of Jamaican Patois as well as the most polished English. She dabbled in Spanish & Latin at Montego Bay High School in her early years while absorbing the Jamaican sunshine. The Author makes a conscious determination to orderly arrange the contours of life choices necessary to be more enlightened and to perform above expectations. Well traveled, she later became favourably disposed to the New York lifestyle. She is a graduate of Marymount College, NY.