ONE of the world’s best known religious figures, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, has made a special visit to Mirfield.
The Archbishop visited The College of The Resurrection at Stocks Bank Road on Saturday to consecrate a foundation stone for a new monastery planned for the site.
Senior clergy, including Bishop of Wakefield Stephen Platten and Vicar of Huddersfield Canon Catherine Ogle were also at the ceremony to unveil the stone.
The stone will be the first of a new monastery which has yet to receive planning permission from Kirklees Council.
The ceremony followed a service at the adjacent Community of the Resurrection Church, led by Archbishop Tutu.
The archbishop also spoke to men and women considering a future as priests.
The college, where clergy are trained, has longstanding links with the archbishop.
The late Trevor Huddleston, a former father of the college, who died in Mirfield in 1998, met Archbishop Tutu on a mission in South Africa during apartheid.
Fr Huddleston, a fellow equality campaigner, met young Tutu when he was parish priest in the black slum of Sophiatown, Johannesburg.
Fr Huddleston had taken off his hat to greet Tutu’s mother, which in apartheid-run South Africa was almost unheard of.
He became the young Tutu’s mentor.
The Archbishop has since visited the college on several previous occasions.
Of the college’s plan for a new monastery, Archbishop Tutu, 78, said: “I’m glad they are doing this, because I know, whatever they do, they do well.
“They certainly have played an incredible role in the life of the Church in South Africa and southern Africa and not just in the life of the church, because what they did in the church influenced what happened in general society.
“I am just one of those who were very greatly influenced by the Community of the Resurrection.
“The role that I might have played in the struggle against apartheid wouldn’t have happened without the training I had by the Community of the Resurrection and people like Trevor Huddleston and others who were involved in the fight against apartheid.
“They are a great institution and God smiles looking down on them.
Asked how British rain compares to South African sun, Archbishop Tutu said: “In winter we do get some strange things and it makes you think of the English grey but you wouldn’t have all the greenery if you didn’t have all the rain.”