‘LINKING THE CATHEDRALS WITH THE ISLE OF MAN’
THE VISIT OF THE RT REVD ROBERT PATERSON
BISHOP OF SODOR & MAN (LINK DIOCESE)
Friday 30th January to Monday 2nd February 2015
St Bridget would have been especially pleased this year to see the continued link between the Dioceses of Cashel, Ferns & Ossory and that of Sodor & Man as she has particular significance in both countries.
Bishop Robert Paterson, accompanied by his wife Pauline, enjoyed a busy weekend in the Diocese of CFO on the weekend that celebrated the Feast Day of the Saint and which this year fell on the Sunday, being 1st February.
The Patersons were hosted by Bishop Burrows who treated them to a whistle-stop tour of the United Diocese over the two days of the weekend and which concentrated on the cathedrals,especially those ones where the bishop had not preached on previous visits
The visitors arrived on the Friday evening and were given that time to settle in, travelling from the airport to the Bishop’s House in Kilkenny which was to be their base for the following few days.
Saturday morning saw them attend the launch of the new booklet and CD of hymns in Irish which Bishop Paterson formally launched at the gathering of Cumann Gaelach na hEaglaise in St Canice’s Cathedral, Kilkenny. The formalities included the singing of some of the hymns from the book by the ‘Cór Fear na nDéise’ men’s choir in the Chapter Room interspersed by words of welcome by Bishop Burrows, Caroline Nolan (PRO) and Daíthí O Maolchoille (Chairperson), before Bishop Paterson launched the new publications and spoke of Celtic connections and describing his own endeavours with the Manx language. Having lived for many years in Wales, the Manx people accuse him of speaking Manx with a Welsh accent! There is a longer account of this occasion elsewhere in this edition.
A short bilingual service followed in the chancel of the cathedral with the music led by members of the cathedral choir and their organist and conductor David Forde and organ scholar, Roisin Rowley Brooke.
The event was well attended and many had come from all parts of the country. All were treated to a light lunch in the cathedral to conclude the proceedings.
While most people wended their way home at that juncture, the Bishops drew breath for a few hours before setting for Lismore. Here at St Carthage’s bilingual Compline was conducted with the Dean, the Very Revd Paul Draper.
It was then return to Kilkenny for overnight rest in readiness for St Brigid’s Day itself. The Sunday dawned bright, frosty and crisp and the snowdrops were out in force in the churchyard of St Patrick’s Rock, Cashel to greet the congregation and the two bishops and Mrs Paterson.
At the Eucharist Bishop Burrows presided accompanied by the Dean and Bishop Paterson who preached.
The Bishop of Sodor of Man gave some background to the church in the Isle of Man. It was Pope Hadrian IV who divided up the Northern half of the ‘British’ Isles (better blame him for using that phrase by putting in inverted commas as I gather it’s banned in schools here!!) and technically speaking the Southern Hebrides make up the Diocese of Sodor but was lost in 1254 which of course today belongs to Scotland.
Brigid or Bride is well known everywhere, especially in Wales where the Bishop spent many years and also in the Isle of Man. She is the patron saint of all sorts of things, she is often described as a mother-goddess but there are details about her that establishes her as a real person. She founded her famous community in Kildare and she and Patrick were regarded as pillars of the early church and today her famous cross is known worldwide.
The Bishop then turned to the Gospel where there are many outcasts, including amazingly, shepherds. These are people who come to guard the folds and not to tend or care for them.
But Jesus is the shepherd who is ‘for’ the sheep and loyal to them and not the owners.
He offers himself to those who are straying and the One whom we belong to. And there is the joy of being ‘found’ and everyone matters, and is called by name and He leads them out. The sheep follow Him, they are not driven by Him. He is looking for the one who belongs to Him. Just like the confirmation candidates, it is not just for the occasion but they should come provoking questions from people – what makes you different? Listen so that that the Voice may be heard, the same that called Brigid bringing fire and light into one’s life.
Later in the Service the commissioning of the confirmation candidates took place, a recent innovation in Cashel parish in advance of the actual confirmation service. The five candidates, Ellen Clarke, Christopher Johnstone, Susie Lalor, Gavin Spencer and Bobby West, were invited to approach the steps of the chancel along with their parents and godparents. Bishop Burrows addressed the assembly and concluded by inviting the candidates to assist him in preparing his sermon on the day by considering what question they might ask of him.
As the young group had affirmed that they were now ‘ready and desirous’ for their confirmation (the Prayer Book’s requirement for admission to the sacrament), they were also invited to take Holy Communion to which their parents had also previously agreed.
Refreshments were served in the cathedral after the service.
It was then across the roads and the miles of the Dioceses for the episcopal party to the East coast and the Diocese of Ferns. Being the nearest Sunday to St Edan’s Day this had been declared to be the Patronal and the Dean welcomed the visitors to Evensong in the cathedral.
Four out of the six cathedrals visited is a fair achievement over a single weekend. Both Waterford and Leighlin were seen ‘en passant’, to be fully visited on another occasion.
On Monday morning the bishops were interviewed by Vicki Sandall of Kilkenny local Radio (KCLR) on a wide-ranging set of topics.
The final event of the schedule was a visit to Kilkenny College where Bishop Paterson met with some of the senior pupils and as a result there is the possibility of an arrangement of a rugby or debating fixture between KCK and a secondary school from the Isle of Man.
And with that, the bishop and Mrs Paterson took their leave to return to their island in the middle of the Irish Sea with many memories of their time in Cashel, Ferns and Ossory.
(Also known as Bride, and sometimes called ‘Mary of God’) was a contemporary of Patrick who founded and ruled over a religious community at Kildare.
Her spirituality strongly influenced the formation of the Church throughout Ireland, immediately after Patrick’s time.
The Church developed through communities of monks and nuns, and her pre-eminence led to her being regarded as a second patron saint.
There are no contemporary writings about Brigid and the legends surrounding her include pagan elements, for there was a Celtic pagan mother-goddess who had a similar name.
But it does appear that she was a remarkable person who through the Grace of God gave unique leadership in her own troubled times.
The list of the saints of the Celtci Church of Ireland is so male-dominated that the revered place given to Brigid of Kildare is itself a testimony to her leadership and holiness.