It is quite a delight to be writing a single letter for a joint issue of Newslink and Tidings, and to thank the editorial teams of both publications for this initiative. It is part of a testing of the waters as to how, over time, our two diocesan magazines might perhaps appropriately converge into a single publication which could assist our now united diocesan family to feel truly one, its members mutually interdependent and well informed in prayer and conversation concerning the activities and needs of one another, from Tubbercurry to Kenmare and from Birr to Clifden.
So this is a good time to review some of the developments in life and ministry around our single family. And happily there is much to say.
We have three Institutions in the coming weeks. On Saturday, June 24 (the Feast of the Birth of St John the Baptist ) at 1530 the Revd Keith Barry will be instituted in Nenagh. He comes to the shores of Lough Derg after a long effective ministry particularly in military chaplaincy in the context of the British armed forces. However, his home place is Kinsale in Co Cork and he is delighted to be returning to parochial ministry in his native land.
Then on Friday July 7 at 1930 the Revd Suzanne Cousins will be instituted in Westport. She comes to us from ministry in Benburb, Co Tyrone, but has an earlier professional background in teaching and has lived and worked in Down, Dublin and Donegal as well as for a time in South Africa. She has served the wider Church of Ireland most notably in the context of work in the area of inter-faith relations.
On Sunday July 9 at 1900 the Revd Canon Kevin O Brien will be instituted in Adare. Kevin is already very much a part of this diocese, and Adare’s gain will be Ennis’s proverbial loss as it must now seek a new priest. Many parishes have come across Kevin through his diocesan role with Safeguarding, and his skills in communications, especially in the visual area, are almost legendary. He recently was among new appointments to the diocesan chapter.
But we gain some and we inevitably lose some. In early July we will bid farewell to the Revd Paul Fitzpatrick who moves to the diocese of Cashel Ferns and Ossory to be rector of the vibrant parish of Carlow. Paul has contributed greatly to our diocesan life in Limerick, in Killaloe and in Nenagh – holding the fort mightily in both Killaloe and Nenagh since the retirement of Dean Smyth a year ago. His passion for improving awareness of mental health issues and making Mind Matters a priority in church life is well known.
With Paul’s departure and the arrival of a new rector in Nenagh, Killaloe Group will before long we hope have again its own resident priest and Dean to reside in the splendidly refurbished deanery upon completion. That person will also, with others, have a significant role to play in delivering education and training across the dioceses. Meanwhile, we are grateful to the Revd Lucy Green for her services particularly in the period of transition.
Another fine priest whom we will soon sadly lose is the Revd Bernie Daly, who came in the autumn from her home in Dublin to look after the pastoral and liturgical needs of the vacant Rathkeale Group, intending to offer us three months of her presence, but in fact enjoying it all so much that she stayed considerably longer. The time has now come to return home, but we thank her for an ‘interim ‘ ministry where she has achieved more in months than many of us could manage in years.
A little later in the year, and more of this anon., we will say farewell to the Revd Olive Henderson as she concludes her ministry in Clonfert, based in Banagher. In that part of the diocese she has been greatly beloved and her understanding of the concept of part time ministry has been elastic indeed. Olive and I have crossed paths in so many contexts in ministry in three dioceses over many years, and like so many I will greatly miss her friendship as she returns to Athy.
So, amid all these changes, please also keep on your hearts the need of places not already mentioned where we are seeking to identify and raise up appropriate expressions of ministry, whether stipendiary or part-time, Ordained Local , or whatever is right in the context:
- a priest colleague for Tralee/Dingle, to be based in Camp. We very much hope that we will soon be joined in this role by an American priest who knows Ireland well, but first we must deal successfully with the modern complexities of immigration matters
- New ministry in Kilcolman (Killorglin etc) when the rectory is ready for occupancy
- A new incumbent for the large Killala and Kilmoremoy (Ballina) group
- A priest colleague to be ‘on the ground’ in the Omey/ Clifden district of Tuam and Omey, once as we hope the deanery on Tuam has been filled
Ministry of course is not all about clergy (although where would we be without the continued generous involvement of so many of our retired priests, particularly in these days?), and the very production of this magazine, along with attention to our online platforms, is in itself an expression of ministry. So many needs of the church at times of change, already implicit in the contents of this letter, could not be addressed without , in particular, the steadfast commitment of our Readers. In that context it was a joy to commission Rachel Kenny as a new diocesan Reader on April 30 in Ballinasloe – a number of other people are in various stages of training for such ministry and certainly two will be commissioned as Diocesan Readers in the course of the summer … so watch this space.
One Reader whose own contribution to the pages of Newslink has been substantial and faithful for a very long time has been Mr Joc Sanders, who has compiled the monthly prayer cycle. He now wishes to hand on this task, but we thank him for a labour of love that has in itself been an expression of the man, and of his commitment to informed prayer and prayerful action as the bedrock of discipleship and a means of always lifting our eyes beyond ourselves.
Again our thanks to all concerned with this ‘joint magazine’ experiment and especially to the editorial teams, Ros Stevenson and Janet Bray at Newslink and Andrea Wills (in a very kind interim capacity ) at Tidings all of whom work in consultation with our diocesan staff, Communications Officer and Diocesan Secretaries. In the next issue(s) I personally promise you some further reading material and initial plans concerning my late autumn scheme to visit every church in rapid succession on a hymn singing marathon to encourage awareness of and support for projects concerned with the empowerment of women through literacy in two contexts in infinitely poorer regions of the world. There will be much information to share; I am already excited and exhausted in equal measure at the very thought of it all!
Michael Tuam Limerick and Killaloe