A YOUNG Christian from Thorpe who lives with autism is moving to a Benedictine community to explore a career in the Church of England.

Sebastian Sands, 19, is leaving St Michael’s Church, in Thorpe, to move to the Holywell community in Abergavenny, Wales, in August.

As well as playing a full part in the life of the community over the next year or two, he will be considering a vocation in the church.

Sebastian said: “Leaving home and living at Holywell was not a decision I took lightly but I felt that it was meant to be.

“I love being part of St Michael’s but I am looking forward to going to Abergavenny.

“I can see myself having some kind of role in the Church of England one day.

“But I need time to carry on praying and thinking about what God wants me to do.”

The Church of England said it aims to ensure that people who are chosen to serve as ministers are called by God and that with one in a hundred people living with autism in the UK it is not surprising that some will find a vocation with the church.

Bishop of Colchester Roger Morris said: “I am so happy that Sebastian has taken this step. I hope his time at Holywell is hugely enjoyable

“I will be blessing Sebastian before he leaves.

“It is worth remembering that the Church of England was never meant to be a bunch of people who were all the same.

The church attracts many different kinds of people, each of whom God has called to serve in a ministry that is suited to them.

“God’s call to Sebastian may be to the priesthood, or a lay ministry, or to an informal ministry, or to the monastic life.

“There are many different kinds of ministry but each minister is a person who is passionate about living as a disciple of Jesus Christ and about using his or her gifts to serve the needs of the world.”

He added: “Ministry is demanding and it is important not to rush in.

“As the Church of England we are called to serve the whole nation. We want everyone to flourish right across society. “That includes supporting people with learning needs to develop and fulfil their potential in God’s big family.

“Society will be a richer place when everyone thrives.”

Sebastian Sands went to Market Field Special School in Elmstead Market and is now in his final year at Doucecroft Special Educational College for students with autism at Eight Ash Green.

Mum Annie Sands said: “Sebastian has been sensing God’s call since he was 15. He feels at ease at St Michael’s.

“Everyone in the church has been very encouraging about his search for a suitable vocation, especially Father Jeremy Dowding. I am very proud of Sebastian.”

While at Holywell, Sebastian will follow the Benedictine pattern of living which involves regular prayer as well as working with groups in the local community.