Vocations retreat helps participants explore ministry opportunities


A vocations retreat was held from 26th to 28th January, in the Dromantine Conference Centre, near Newry, for those ‘exploring’ ordination in the Church of Ireland. The retreat was led by Provost Lynda Peilow (the Central Director of Ordinands), Judy Peters (from the Commission on Ministry), and Bishop David McClay. Dr Sean Doherty, Principal of Trinity College, Bristol, was the guest speaker, and he navigated the gathering through discernment, exploration and answering God’s call.

Archbishop John McDowell also called in to greet participants on Saturday morning. There were some practical sessions with input from Dr Katie Heffelfinger (representing the Church of Ireland Theological Institute) on pathways to ordinations, the Revd Rob Jones (National Director for Pioneer Ministry), and from clergy families which included Eddie Hallissey and Brigid Barrett.  The Revd Julie Bell was the Chaplain, and she used the space and grounds creatively in leading prayer and worship.

The retreat offered the eighteen participants a deeper understanding of the spiritual, intellectual, and practical aspects of ordained ministry, fostering discernment and providing a space for reflection. Participants engaged in daily prayer, worship, and informative sessions. There was also time to chat with one another and to reflect. This built a sense of community, and participants left with a network of peers to provide ongoing support and encouragement.

The Very Rev Lynda Peilow said: “The retreat has successfully provided structure and space for individuals considering a call to ordained ministry. Through a balanced combination of spiritual, intellectual, and practical elements, the participants gained a deeper understanding of their vocation, and a strengthened sense of support and community.

“I hope and pray that their ‘time out’ at the retreat in Dromantine will support and encourage them on this journey as they continue to discern God’s call. It was promising and encouraging to see people from across the country gather. For some, it will lead to a path towards ordination and for others it enabled a structured space and place to unravel their sense of vocation in a safe and informative environment.”

Issued by the Church of Ireland Press Office


Pictured from left at the vocations retreat are Provost Lynda Peilow (Central Director of Ordinands), Judy Peters (Commission on Ministry), Dr Katie Heffelfinger (CITI), the Revd Julie Bell (Chaplain), Dr Sean Doherty (from Trinity College, Bristol) and the Revd Rob Jones (Pioneer Ministry National Director).