The Diocesan Synod of TKA took place on 21st September in St. Mary’s Cathedral, Tuam.
In his Presidential address, Bishop Rooke referenced the 150th Anniversary of Disestablishment, speaking to the challenges of that period and linking them to the challenges of the present day, specifically those of Brexit; ‘Let us hope and pray that as we look back on this period of our history, we will be able to say, as we can now of Disestablishment, ‘it all turned out for the better in the end’. In the short-term, however, there is much fear as to how a hard Brexit, in particular, will affect us and not least the farming community and the poorer among us. A No-deal Brexit will undoubtedly have serious economic, social and political implications and we trust that political reality and sensitivity will prevail. So let us pray, and pray fervently, for the leaders and institutions of government across the European Union at this time.’
The bishop then turned his thoughts to three themes: Clergy, Mission and Growth.
Starting with Clergy matters, Bishop Rooke welcomed three newly ordained OLMs to the diocesan team. ‘ Essentially, their ministry should be seen as missional and additional to traditional stipendary ministry but the reality is that their involvement will both enable further financial savings across the Diocese as well as bringing important support to our stipendary clergy and to parishioners alike. So, a ministry of maintenance and mission – and let us allow both to flourish side by side.’
On the subject of Mission, the bishop said, ‘Social deprivation in the West is an issue, many places have lost their shop, their post office, their garage, their pub or hotel. Step on the Big Blue Bus we have provided as part of the Ballina Churches Together Project and you’ll hear all about the real lives some people in our Diocese are living.
The city of Galway with its growing student community and industries provides the contrast and we are fortunate to have it as part of our Diocese. But there too are the same social problems we see in most 21st century cities – homelessness, drug related issues, alcohol abuse, poverty.’
Bishop Rooke then challenged us all with the words, ‘Are we willing to roll up our sleeves and get involved?’
With regard to Growth, bishop Rooke had this to say, ‘There is a danger that as church people, we become obsessed with numbers in pews – but the church is about much more. It’s about touching lives in the hope of changing lives. Alongside our regular worship, we need to be looking for new ways of connecting with our local communities.’ He added, ‘Bridging the gap between the sacred and the secular is not just the task of our clergy, but the mission of our Church if it is to grow and multiply.’
Suspending standing orders, synod warmly welcomed an address from Bishop Gaddiel Lenini, the Bishop of the Diocese of Kajiado in Kenya with which TKA has close ties.
During this session, Synod significantly and unanimously ratified the Motion, passed at General Synod 2019, for the future Unification of the Dioceses of TKA and Limerick and Killaloe and similarly passed a Motion of Greetings to those dioceses with which we will organically share ministry on Ireland’s Western Seaboard.