Jun 08




with Richard Giles


This seminar with Richard Giles considered the familiar subject of worship in restrictive buildings. It took place on Monday 20th April in St Laserian’s Cathedral, Old Leighlin and hosted by the indefatigable Dean, the Very Revd Tom Gordon.

IMG_6329The seminar was supported by a respectable number of people, mostly those ordained. So the Diocese may be ready to listen perhaps to some rather radical views on how our services and congregations should be organised to maximize the act of collective worship in a society where in many places church attendance is steadily falling.

Richard’s presentation of today’s challenge for the church ongoing as observed by him in other parts of the world will undoubtedly resonate with those who were present as they considered their own local experience with the problems laid out by the speaker. He was quick to provide ideas as how to help keep the slide in check and turn despair into hope and solution.


Richard began his dissertation by observing how appropriate it was for this to be taking place in this new space in St Laserian’s.  The former old Chapter Room is now refurbished with modern facilities while retaining its ecclesiastical appearance and that can now be put to a variety of uses, one of which was this lecture.

Firstly Richard considered how a space can be reconfigured and then how it might be used.  He showed illustrations of some examples of worship space that had outlived its usefulness with falling numbers or space badly arranged and furnished and then how all that can be improved.

Seating re-arrangement was a foremost example.  Where possible to have the opportunity of seating in the round rather than in long rectangular pews stretching the length and breadth of a church which condemns everyone to passive observance, virtually containing and constraining them.


Richard did admit that it was not always possible to achieve such alterations especially if the furniture was fixed in place and an integrated part of the building.  And that there might be resistance by long serving parishioners.  He candidly suggested that now is the time to ‘do or die’ and perhaps even now it is too late but perseverance can achieve much, particularly if it is accomplished in small stages so that people can become accustomed to change even at the expense of losing those who fervently insist on former concepts.

At least ‘have a go’ and do not wait or nothing will happen, it may be surprising what positive impact there will be.  Moreover if the area of a church cannot be altered then there may be other places within the building to convert for worship.

A small room adjacent might be brought into use with seating in the round or even two rooms with a congregation moving from one to the other depending on the stage of a service or for teaching or for meetings, etc., even within the main building part of a service might take place at the West end and then move to the East end for the remainder.

Congregations that today have become smaller in number, can feel a greater sense of togetherness if they are brought together in a space that suits the number rather than a random selection of people scattered about a huge church space.


Rows of pews encourages a passivity, a ‘disconnect’, from theological ideal and almost with a waiting to be entertained. But in a space proportionate to the number of worshippers there is much more of a sense of interaction and collective activity showing that they are have come in order to take part. It was even shown how the minister can be included as one of the circle rather than at an isolated remove ‘up in the sanctuary.’

His illustrations startlingly contrasted large empty and demoralising church spaces filled only with grand pillars as opposed to warm, suitable areas comfortably housing any average Sunday congregation.

Richard went on to show how churches can become buildings that accumulate unnecessary materials and furniture.  Places like vestries where piles of ‘junk’ can conceal the important aspects of the space.  Lack of clutter helps an attitude of orderliness and clear thinking.

Similarly porches can often be given little thought as to their primary function, that of entry and welcome.

One ‘before and after’ situation was shown where it was physically awkward to gain access through the main doorway and then for the worshipper or visitor to be confronted with obstacles that discouraged an open and warm welcome.  A little thought, a tidy up and a little more space gave both visitor and a churchwarden the opportunity to offer welcoming entry, a sense of anticipation and of participation.

Richard took the specific example of the font, traditionally placed at the door of the church to symbolise baptism.  He showed instances of fonts hidden in obscure corners, some even used as flower stands.  The ideal, he purported, was to have a font in direct proportion to the size of the church, in keeping with its style, in a prominent position showing quite clearly what it is even to the extent of keeping the interior filled with water.

Other places to take a look at might be the chancel and sanctuary.  Is it laid out to the best of its use, is the furniture in the right place, is there too much furniture, is it fit for purpose for today’s needs? All these matters can be considered in the light of what is practical today and not just as it was in days gone by and which is no longer practicable.



With these rather radical views that gave those present much food for thought, the session concluded with some question and answer which in turn gave way to yet another use of this newly reconstituted room for the serving of lunch generously offered and served by the parish of St Laserian’s and its Dean – Ed.



Richard Giles, one of Anglicanism’s leading liturgists and the author of numerous publications on the topic of transformative worship and the design of liturgical space, presented his ideals reinforced by a variety of slides illustrating the good use of space and the opposite.

From 1999 to 2008 Richard was Dean of Philadelphia Cathedral in the Diocese of Pennsylvania, USA, where he oversaw the radical renovation of the cathedral to become a place of transformative worship. In 2008 he became a Visiting Fellow of St John’s College, Durham. He continues to work as a facilitator of transformative worship and a consultant in liturgical.  His specialism is the design of liturgical space, and his books ‘Re-Pitching the Tent’ and ‘Creating Uncommon Worship‘ are published by Liturgical Press. He now lives in Tynemouth, UK.








Jun 08







It was standing room only for much of this year’s Synod in the vast function room of the City Hotel, Armagh, especially on the middle day when almost. 500 members attended.

It was on this day that Alan Gilbert, in truly flying form, spoke enthusiastically from the podium during the debate on Episcopal Ministry and Structures.

He said how lucky Cashel, Ferns and Ossory was to have the bounciest Bishop of the lot!

This brought the house down!  How his Bishop interacts, for example, with his confirmation candidates.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMore seriously Alan continued speaking of the need for alternatives to the institutionalised rector in the parish.  He gave an example that once a week, a group of about 20 ordained and lay people should meet with the Dean to bring about some sort of collaborative ministry.  Such people would have no distinct parish and utilise all the buildings they have.  They might run major services in some churches and not in others and the rest having services but rotated around as best they can.  Maybe on Easter Day or at Harvest Thanksgiving one big service might be held in one of the large churches or cathedrals and encourage all to come to that.

Looking at the demographics in the Church of Ireland, things are changing.  Young people are not marrying into the ‘sect’ anymore, but marrying people of other denominations and religions and from other countries.  The base where we started from is just not going to be there in 30 years’ time.

Episcopal Ministry and structures

There was much debate on the subject of how best to manage churches, dioceses and parishes and their boundaries in the years ahead as numbers of worshippers continue to become more erratic with the recent census underlining the challenge. A question of the need to face changing patterns and yet respecting the long traditions of families, especially in rural parishes. The country is becoming evermore urbanised and the stark situation of small numbers and potentially large distances to travel was demonstrated, especially in the west of Ireland.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARoger Boyd stated that he and his family and his forebears had lived in the same house and worshipped in the same church in rural Ireland for generations.  His generations now passed on, are buried in the local churchyard. But Roger acknowledged the need for change.  He encouraged the commission not be afraid, to grasp opportunities such as these for there is so much change needed if this church is to survive.  He openly welcomed the intent as a start and that it move in the right direction even if the document is at the discussion stage – there is time to work on it and get it right.




There were seven Bills in total and all were presented for consideration and passed.

  1. Dignity in Church Life Charter
  2. Amendment of constitution on matters of medical infirmity
  3. Amendment of provisions relating to Severance Fund
  4. Statement of Charitable Purposes and Objects
  5. St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh
  6. Regulation of Chapter and Governance of Christ Church Cathedral. This bill was withdrawn
  7. Pensions.


There 21 motions submitted for discussion.

Motions debated included a request to extend the tenure of the Select Committee on Human Sexuality in the context of Christian Belief and also a motion from the Commission on Episcopal Ministry and Structures seeking endorsement of the direction of work undertaken to amend the procedures for episcopal election.  This included the presentation of a motion for discussion on diocesan boundaries.

There was a motion on the interchangeability of ministry between the Church of Ireland and the Moravian Church.

A motion on the long-standing concern and a wish to have removed VAT on remedial work on protected structures.

A motion proposing movement for the creation of a centre of community prayer, retreat, hospitality and study.

A motion drawing attention to the persecution of Christians across the world.


There were a number of reports including that from the RCB, from Standing Committee, from the Boards of Education and Mission and Ministry, etc.

Other topics discussed were Priorities, Human Sexuality, Marriage Council and Youth.

A change in the timetable

In a change to the normal arrangements, the Synod Eucharist took place on the first morning in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh, designed to give an uplifting start to Synod business through collective worship. The preacher was the Right Revd Alan Abernethy.

Before the business of the day began Archbishop Richard Clarke delivered his presidential address in which he alluded to the church-wide survey, the persecutions in many parts of the world and the national and international commemorations that would be taking place next year, 2016.





A motion was proposed by Andrew Brannigan from Diocese of Down and Connor and seconded by Sam Harper on an Environmental Charter for the Church. The charter would help educate Church members towards stewardship of the earth, reducing waste, and being more environmentally aware.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAArchdeacon Andrew Orr urged that, in line with the extension of the remit of the Ethical Investments Committee, the Church should seriously consider disinvestment in fossil fuels.

He welcomed this Green Charter for the Church, which is a major statement that the C of I is taking the issue of climate change seriously.  It is based on The Cashel, Ferns and Ossory charter and will assist parishes, dioceses and individuals to play their part in reducing their carbon footprint.  Already people across the developing world are being affected by climate change, as island communities are in real danger of disappearing, and farmers can no longer grow the crops they normally did in the past.

The Charter provides broad outlines for what everyone can do, and if a parish needs help in implementing the charter, Eco Congregation Ireland can give lots of helpful advice.  Their website is ecocongregationireland.com

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATrevor Sargent also requested that the list of investments be provided and suggested that in the light of the high value of fossil fuel investments it would be difficult for the Church to wean itself off them and that the Church would need seriously to resist the temptation to invest in these financially attractive companies.






OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABishop Michael Burrows, in referring to the historical assets of the Church, regretted the loss of the emphasis on the essential connectedness of beauty and holiness in the contemporary

Church. He said that he saw very little artistic creativity being fostered or encouraged by the Church and said that in generations to come people would ask of the present generation in what specific way it had expressed its faith in terms of poetry, art, etc.

Mr Neill of the RCB assured Bishop Burrows that the contemporary Church was still contributing to the arts with new statues and contemporary music in the new ‘Thanks and Praise.’


Richard Codd addressing the new charities legislation in the Republic of Ireland, asked why the Church had requested parishes, as opposed to dioceses, to register with the Charities

Commission as the resulting audit requirements would be a heavy burden on any parish with a turnover above €100,000.



Protected structures

7a. Robbie Syme 2015-05-15 at 17.51.01VAT should be removed on Remedial Work on Protected structures. This was proposed by Robbie Syme who said that often hard won grants from Government bodies were paid back to the government in VAT. He hoped that a reduced VAT rate could be applied by both governments.

Seconding the motion, Trevor Sargent said many churches were listed buildings and said it was a good opportunity to build ecumenical unity to strive to get something which would help us all preserve our heritage. Our country’s heritage of listed buildings, north and south, is a wonderful legacy in many ways, but the cost of maintaining these landmark buildings incurs higher than average costs for many of our local parishes. This motion also has relevance to those beyond the Church of Ireland in the fact that many of these buildings serve well the needs of the wider community and tourism, for example.  The Revd Patrick Burke mentioned his previous experience as a Revenue official and offered his advice with regard to seeking a reduction or removal of VAT on such works.  The motion was adopted.

Standing Committee

8. Hazel Corrigan  2015-05-15 at 17.50.15Seconding the report, Hazel Corrigan highlighted the work of the Priorities Fund and the many projects supported by the fund.

She also spoke of the progress in talks between the Church of Ireland and the Moravian Church and, following the debate on the report, Bishop Burrows proposed a motion welcoming and affirming the conclusions and proposals in the report on the theological dialogue between the Church of Ireland and the Moravian Church.

Hazel added that General Synod in 2016 would meet in the Royal Marine Hotel, Dun Laoghaire, from 12th to 14th May.

The report of the Standing Committee and Bishop Burrows’ motion were adopted.

Bishop Michael Burrows, paid tribute to Sam Harper who has served as a lay honorary secretary for the twenty one years since 1994, offering ‘commitment time and integrity’.

Centre of community

A motion calling on General Synod to consider that the establishment of a centre of community prayer, retreat, hospitality and study might be one suitable means by which the Church of Ireland could mark the forthcoming 150th anniversary of Disestablishment and commends efforts by the Commission on Ministry and others to undertake a scoping study to examine the feasibility of such a project and present it as a priority for the Church.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe motion was proposed by Dean Katharine Poulton who said that no such facility existed for the Church of Ireland although they were welcomed by others communities.

Seconding the motion, Bishop Michael Burrows said this was an opportunity to create something visible of our time. He said that the motion didn’t involve spending money but that it sent a message to those who could spend money.

It was enthusiastically received by several speakers from the podium while caution was urged as costs might run high and the motion was passed by Synod. It could be a new build, possibly fully ecumenically.  Clonfert was suggested as a place that could turned to such use.

The Motion was adopted.

‘Thanks and Praise’

The new hymnal supplement was widely publicised by the Liturgical Advisory Committee with order forms now available. It has been 20 years since the current ‘Irish Church Hymnal’ was published and this new edition contains many new hymns and tunes written over the intervening years.

The book was available not only in music and word editions, but there were also kindle,

e-publication, and braille versions.

Additionally, recordings had been made available by the Recorded Church Music

Committee, a Companion giving the background to the hymns had been produced, and

the book would be formally launched on 11th September in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin.


This year, in a change to the annual communications competition, the Central

Communications Board (CCB) organised a photography competition designed to show

Church of Ireland Church life in action, sponsored by Ecclesiastical Insurance.

First prize: Lilian Webb from Celbridge and Straffan with Newcastle-Lyons,

Diocese of Glendalough – a photograph taken on Easter Sunday of the sunrise service.

Second Prize: Seán O’Brien from Portlaw, Co. Waterford – a photograph of parishioners from the Fiddown Union of parishes, arriving at Holy Trinity church, Portlaw, after a short parade through the town with donkeys on Palm Sunday.


Third Prize: Andrew Brannigan – parishioners attending morning service, Diocese of Connor.

Special mentions:

Herbie Sharman, Diocesan Communications Officer for Cashel, Ferns and Ossory, for his photograph, ‘The Last Station,’ showing Bishop Michael Burrows offering a reflection with parishioners on Good Friday on the platform of Carlow Station towards the end of his ‘Stations of the Stations’ initiative.


Lynn Glanville, DCO for Dublin and Glendalough, for her photograph of the ordination of deacons at Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin,

Pauric McGroder, a freelance photographer, for his photograph of visitors to St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin.

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IMG_6413Screen Shot 2015-05-15 at 17.51.40OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABrian, Susan and Andrew  2015-05-15 at 17.45.28James Muhall & Leslie Forrest IMG_6409Searching with Caroline Farrar IMG_6411Canon Susan IMG_6414Cecil Wellwood IMG_6416




Jun 08





St Mary’s Church, Enniscorthy,

Wednesday 29th April 2015.

‘United in Prayer’

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Following the processional hymn and still in Eastertide, the Bishop filled the large, well-filled church with his booming voice ‘Alleluia! The Lord is risen!’ To which the congregation of Mothers’ Union and friends enthusiastically replied ‘He is risen indeed. Alleluia.’

The Bishop then explained that this year’s festival service had an altered format from the normal corporate Eucharist. This meant that he had the unusual pleasure of largely sitting back to listen and to enjoy the service.

Dedication of the new Diocesan Mothers’ Union Banner

However before that, he had much joy in dedicating the new Cashel, Ferns and Ossory Banner.  This had been lovingly and expertly created by Ms Frances Bradley of Castlecomer.  She had spent four months weaving and stitching the new banner, the wording of which now reflected the new United Diocese.  Taking various suggestions, Frances had woven a wonderfully colourful mixture of emblem, words, people, including men (!), and uniquely she had adorned the reverse side with the tree of life.

The Bishop suggested that a banner is all about leading people, people on the move, and in our pilgrimage it was time to have a new symbol for this new chapter in the Diocese and he hoped that this banner would lead us forward for many years to come.

This beautiful gift was offered for the Glory of God symbolising the coherence and the vision and the vocation of the Mothers’ Union for the enrichment of the life of the Diocese and that it would lift the hearts of all in pilgrimage and joy for years to come.

Ministry of the Word

The Diocesan Chaplain to the Mothers’ Union, the Revd Canon Ian Poulton, then led the service forward by offering prayerful thanks for the plans that are in train across the Diocese for ‘Mums in May’ and for the ‘Wave of Prayer’ links across the world, valued over many years and now embracing new relationships ahead.

Canon Poulton read the first lesson and Mrs Rosemary Smith the second.  The sermon was given by the Dean of Cashel, the Very Revd Gerald Field.

Address: ‘Do what you can….not what you can’t!’

Over the years the image and role of the MU has changed with a new logo and new Mothers’ Union prayers replacing the originals.   But one thing that doesn’t change, and has never changed, is what lies at the heart of what the Mothers’ Union is and does, and that is what we are celebrating near to St Mark’s Day with whom there are definite associations with the Mothers’ Union. The Dean then asked ‘When was the last time you saw an evangelist?’

Mark’s gospel was innovative, the first of its kind, the one from which others who wrote of the life of Jesus took their example.  In Mark’s gospel there’s almost a sense of urgency about the way the author writes. The word ‘immediately’ is found no less than 40 times in it.

Jesus’ ministry moves at a pace in this Gospel; there’s no time to include peripheral, unnecessary detail. Jesus’ actions and teaching speak for themselves. They impact upon the lives of those he serves without the need for further explanation or commentary so that the message of the Gospel can be easily understood, believed, and acted upon.

The basic message of the Feast Day of St Mark the Evangelist carries the ‘good news’, that is the primary source of celebration. And that also everyone is called to be messengers of God.

Now new links are embraced within the ‘Wave of Prayer,’ the Christian faith, and witness to that faith, is all about relationships: with God, with each other, with those to whom God sends us as His messengers.   It’s not a matter that this can’t be done or this shouldn’t be done.

The Mothers’ Union didn’t become the force it is by conforming to the rules and constraints of conventional society.   If Mary Sumner had taken notice of the rules governing her society in relation to the role of women, we wouldn’t be sitting here today!  The MU has not allowed itself to be limited in what it does to foster good relationships.

The M.U. website states: ‘Society is based on many different relationships: families, friends, colleagues, faith communities … politics including laws, economics, conversation and tradition… Mothers’ Union works at all of these levels and brings the additional tradition and voices of Christian faith to the debate. This tradition insists that basic needs of clean water, shelter, food, healthcare, education and respect for human dignity are everyone’s right.’

So how does that work out practically for the members of the M.U. in the United Diocese of Cashel, Ferns & Ossory?  ‘Do what you can….not what you can’t!’

The message God wants communicated in the same way as it has been since Creation: God loves and cares for all creation – God loves you!  For some it is hard to receive or understand, because of things they have seen or endured; but that doesn’t mean we stop trying to find ways of communicating that message.

As a former Diocesan Chaplain the Dean was always impressed by the little things that were being done across his Diocese to help people in time of need: wash bags for those admitted to hospital urgently without the time to collect such things; knitted bonnets and clothes for premature babies because things that small are not available in shops; activity bags at the back of church for young children to help themselves to, and keep them occupied whilst the Rector bores them (and no doubt their parents!!) with the sermon!   Keep it simple!

Also to support those who are able to do what you can’t. We can’t all travel to help the struggle with natural and manmade disasters to offer practical aid.  We can’t all go prison or hospital visiting.  However, support can be nowhere more importantly so than in prayer:

United in Prayer,’ a ministry that is not constrained by place or circumstance.

The Dean encouraged all to pray each day in whatever way is best. The Gospel proclaimed that the message is more important than the identity of the person proclaiming it. The vast majority of those we support through our branches and Diocese have no idea who we are; but they experience the Gospel in action through our efforts. Also, the sense of expectation in Mark’s gospel is to be found in all that the MU undertakes: the expectation that God will answer prayer and that any work done in His name will bear fruit, whether or not we may ever see it come to fruition.  We are all called to be evangelists, and ‘When was the last time you saw an evangelist?’ Look around to see all as fellow evangelists in this parish church!

Worldwide links 

Following the pattern of the new format, time was given to the ‘Wave of Prayer’.  The Diocesan Mothers’ Union worldwide links include Twic East in the Sudan, an area of approximately 700 square miles; the Diocese of Owerri in South East Nigeria; Ughelli, also in Nigeria, a diocese inaugurated in 1998 with its diocesan President Mrs Ufuoma Odutemu, wife of the Diocesan bishop, and where members of the MU here regularly hold prayer meetings both congregationally and in homes.

Two other Mothers’ Union Dioceses, Rorya in Tanzania and Gippsland in Australia, were introduced to the congregation by two people who had connections there.

4. IMG_6353Firstly Jessica Clarke, link correspondent for Dublin & Glendalough Diocese and who had served in Tanzania with CMS.  Speaking a few words of Swahili, Jessica then told the congregation that Tanzania was 12 times the size of Ireland. Rorya is, like the others, a relatively new diocese in the Lake Victoria and Kenya vicinities.

She showed everyone two colourful kangas, these brightly-colored cotton cloths are the de facto national dress in Tanzania.

In Rorya the MU has much in common with Ireland being involved in teaching, both educational theory and practical living.  However HIV Aids is still rampant.  Despite all the problems the people are always cheerful and positive.  Jessica extended greetings from Rorya to Cashel Ferns and Ossory with the hope of getting to know each better as time goes on.

5. IMG_6399Rosemary Hill, formerly from Melbourne, Australia, introduced Gippsland Diocese to everyone . She explained that her connection with the Diocese was that she has cousins in Gippsland, and had often holidayed there. The area is situated in the bottom right hand corner of Australia covering 15,00 square miles with a population of about one quarter of a million.   A diverse area, much of it is bounded by the sea and with largely a rural community.  However its wealth in mineral means considerable industry. There are 10 MU Branches – from Orbost to Phillip Island with 160 members.



The Venerable Chris Long

Following the Thanksgiving and Intercessions led by Ms Margaret Stephens and members of the Mothers’ Union and the Blessing given by the Bishop, he made mention of the forthcoming retirement of the rector and Archdeacon, the Venerable Chris Long.  More would be said at a later date about Chris, but for now the Bishop thanked him for his friendship to him and to many others, for being the wisest of pastors, the most faithful of ‘seer-througher’ of vision.  Chris had been a driving force behind the unification of Ferns with the rest of the Diocese to become so harmoniously a single Diocesan entity.  That which is embellished in word and picture on the new banner exemplifies his work probably more than anyone else’s.  So it has been appropriate that the symbol of that work has been dedicated in his church. The logo symbolising many of the things he has done.

‘Alleluia, on we go!’ 

The Bishop rounded off this remarks where he began the service with the four words that he had used to the confirmation candidates in Kilkenny the previous Sunday.   At the end of the day we all come to dust – with the hope of resurrection.  The Dean, the Very Revd Katharine Poulton had recently remarked on a very apt and concise epitaph which she had seen on the gravestone of another bishop ‘across the water’.  Very taken with this, the Bishop said it was the best he had ever heard and in ‘due course’ wished that it might apply to him! But here at the close of this occasion it was indeed a case of ‘Alleluia, on we go!’


8. IMG_6360After this conclusion, MU Diocesan President the Revd Margaret Sykes thanked all those who had been involved in the Service, not least the organist Ms Hilda Plant.

She thanked those in Enniscorthy along with Killanne and Killegney who had been working so very hard in preparation for the service and for the hospitality about to be served.

She thanked the Dean of Cashel for his thought-provoking words.

She noted with pleasure the presence of special guests Norma Bell, a former trustee and all-Ireland Vice President; two ladies representing GFS: Pauline Lawrence and Sylvia Treacy and also Val Galloway from Gorey Methodist Church.

She thanked Janet Crampton for all her work on the order of service and the production of the service sheet.

She thanked Rosemary and Jessica for speaking about their respective dioceses in the service.

Finally she thanked most sincerely Frances Bradley for all her hours of work in completing the new banner and Margaret made a presentation to Frances on behalf of everyone.

The banners were then processed out to the organ playing ‘The Grand March’ from Aida (!)

And ‘onward’ everyone went across the road to the newly refurbished and impressive Church Institute where tea and refreshments were served both on ground and upper levels.

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May 27

The Institution of the Revd Richard Seymour-Whiteley as Rector of Rathdowney Union







St Andrew’s Church, Rathdowney

Sunday 22nd March 2015

The Revd Richard Seymour-Whiteley pictured before his Service of Institution to the Church of Ireland Rathdowney Union of Parishes on Sunday 22nd March 2015. L-R: The Revd Richard Seymour-Whiteley, the Right Reverend Michael Burrows (Bishop of Cashel, Ferns & Ossory), the Venerable Andrew Orr (Archdeacon of Ossory and Preacher) and the Revd Tim Irvine (Registrar).

The Revd Richard Seymour-Whiteley pictured before his Service of Institution to the Church of Ireland Rathdowney Union of Parishes on Sunday 22nd March 2015.
L-R: The Revd Richard Seymour-Whiteley, the Right Reverend Michael Burrows (Bishop of Cashel, Ferns & Ossory), the Venerable Andrew Orr (Archdeacon of Ossory and Preacher) and the Revd Tim Irvine (Registrar).


The institution of the Revd Richard Seymour-Whiteley to Rathdowney took place on Sunday 22nd March 2015 with the Procession heralded by the hymn ‘O Jesus, I have promised,’  and the Bishop welcomed everyone: parishioners and those from the wider ecumenical and civic community. These included Fr Jackie Robinson, Cllr John King and Cllr Brendan Phelan all from Borris-in-Ossory.   He welcomed especially those from Clogher who had travelled a second time in the weekend to support the new ministries of the Seymour-Whiteleys.

It was, he said, an historic occasion as it had been 38 years since there had last been a service of institution here, such was the long tenure of Archdeacon John Murray – perhaps a record.  Since it is the custom that the previous incumbent be not present at this time, the Bishop had spoken to John during the day and assured all present of his good wishes.

The Bishop thanked all those who had been responsible for the evening’s service, the music with organist Ruth Wallace, the hospitality, the refurbishment of the rectory and the attention given to the parish during the vacancy by the Revd Victor Fitzpatrick.

The Bishop then at this Passiontide went on to lead the service celebrating the new ministry of Richard. The Archdeacon, the Ven. Andrew Orr presented Mr Seymour-Whiteley to the Bishop who commended him to the prayers of the congregation and when silence, better than any words, was kept.


Ministry of the Word

The lessons were read by John Thompson from Rathdowney and the Revd Victor Fitzpatrick from Kilcooley and the Gospel by the Revd Dr Stella Durand.

In his address Archdeacon Andrew Orr spoke of the inevitable connection always to be found in the Church of Ireland. Richard was Rector of Greyabbey in the Ards Peninsula, where Andrew’s grandfather was Rector for 30 years in the ‘30s, ‘40s and ‘50s.

Andrew continued with the story of a number of council members discussing the qualities needed for an incumbent: ‘What we need’, one man said, ‘is someone who’ll lead us where we want to go’.   No one challenged him in that huge flaw in his thinking – the call of the Christian community is not to go where we want but where God wants.

So, what is God’s call for this union of parishes: perhaps three ways in which Richard and the parish can begin to discern what the Spirit of God is saying.

First, there is ‘being here’. Nowhere else is the same, the parish has its own shared history, its own sense of itself, its ethos, its characters, its parish unity and even its parish disputes! Richard’s first task is to understand this.  To be here. To visit, to walk the parish, so that he can see and be seen.

Also to listen: a three way process, a constant ‘trialogue’ between priest, people and God: to listen with respect to one another and to God, is at the essence of parish life.  Richard comes to with many gifts: his musicianship as a singer and player of a variety of stringed instruments, and particularly as an artist.  The parishioners will have to remember that Richard is not Archdeacon Murray and accept that Richard will not fulfil everything expected from him, expectations are not to be unrealistic, he will do things that some will not like, and not do things that others would like him to do.

In all of this he will have Alison to support him: occasionally in some sections of the Church this is seen as a problem, an issue to be managed.  Not in this diocese. It can be a double blessing in the support both formal and informal and without getting in the other’s way.

Parishioners will quickly discover that Richard is a person of deep faith, with a rich life of daily prayer and devotion to the liturgy of the Church. In the weekly Eucharist, Richard will focus this community’s prayer and learning. It is Richard’s privilege to serve in the most profound way and through our Lord’s Supper to offer his ministry also.

Nothing remains the same.  God calls us onward to face these changes.  We must follow where He leads.  It’s a challenge, but it’s also immensely fulfilling, and also meant to be enjoyable. The Christian calling is a calling to a joyful life.  So Richard and parishioners, get out there and enjoy yourselves. God bless this parish and its new rector – the best is yet to be.


 ‘Signing the Contract’

This Institution Service is the nearest there is under God to a contract between priest and people in terms of their mutual responsibilities and duties.

The first part encompasses the public, legal side of the occasion.  The Bishop read the act of institution prepared for him by the registrar and with declarations and signings completed, the Bishop presented the Revd Richard Seymour-Whiteley to the congregation and commended his ministry, asking him to accept a share in the care of God’s people here in Rathdowney and surrounds and invited him to serve as Rector of the cure of parishes.

The Bishop and Richard then stood and faced the people as the Bishop presented him to the congregation as priest asking them to support and encourage him in his ministry, praying for him as he will pray for them, to which they agreed and they applauded him enthusiastically.


The ‘Commission’

Then followed the more pastoral and, in symbolic language, the teaching and sacramental as well as pastoral ministry of the new incumbent is contemplated. The congregation is called to witness to the love of Christ and to serve others in the name of Christ. This is shown by presenting symbols of the teaching, pastoral and sacramental ministry of a priest by members of the congregation.

Philip Thompson from Aghaboe brought a bible from the pulpit; Sarah Handcock from Rathdowney presented a container of water from the font; Hazel Moynan from Donaghmore brought a copy of the Book of Common Prayer from the Prayer Desk; Ray Galbraith brought forward bread and wine; Janet Coyley from Rathsaran presented a vial of oil; Carys Davies from Rathsaran presented a towel representing the washing of feet; and the Revd Máirt Hanley presented copies of the Diocesan Directory and finally Philip Dreaper churchwarden in Rathdowney brought forward a key of the church. The Bishop reminded the new rector the importance of open doors, of inclusivity and welcome and witness and through his own discipline of prayer, to enter and pray publicly, receive the key and let the doors of the church be open for all.

The Prayers of the People were led by Richard and who then announced a service of Holy Communion the following Sunday at 10.45 a.m. in Rathdowney.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFollowing the conclusion of the service some words of welcome were spoken in the church. Olive Moynan on behalf of the Union paid words of welcome to Richard to the parish and to his new home along with Alison.  She thanked all the volunteers for all the work in preparation for the new rector.  She hoped that he would settle in well after the move from England and that he can take time to relax as well as taking up his duties within the parish.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFr Jackie Robinson from Borris-in-Ossory spoke on behalf on the Catholic community and on behalf of Fr Maher from Rathdowney unable to be present.  He recalled the great times he had had with John and Irene Murray and looked forward to that good relationship continuing, being all together as brothers and sisters in Christ.




OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACllr John King and Cllr Brendan Phelan also extended a warm welcome and offered full cooperation to Richard on behalf of the local community.




OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Bishop then invited Mr William Allen to say a few words from Richard’s previous ministry in the Diocese of Clogher, Down and Dromore.  He unreservedly said that Richard’s sincerity, sensitivity is unparalleled.



OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn reply Richard spoke on behalf of himself and his wife for the warm welcome afforded.  Having arrived in Dublin they had made their way without problem to Rathdowney and straightaway felt ‘at home’ among a wonderful land and a wonderful people.  They look forward to living and working and serving for many years amongst the parishes, developing and understanding and getting to know everyone through their ministry.


The evening concluded with refreshments offered in the adjacent parish hall afterwards.

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May 27

The Introduction of the Revd Alison Seymour-Whiteley (part-time Priest-in-Charge) to Templemore






St Mary’s Parish Church, Templemore

Friday 20th March 2015

The Revd Alison Seymour-Whiteley pictured before her Service of Introduction to the Church of Ireland Templemore Union of Parishes on Friday 20th March 2015. L-R: The Revd Tim Irvine (Registrar), the Venerable Chris Long (Archdeacon of Ferns and Preacher), the Revd Alison Seymour-Whiteley, the Right Reverend Michael Burrows (Bishop of Cashel, Ferns & Ossory), the Revd Ian Coulter (former priest-in-charge during the vacancy) and Mr Charles Wallace (Diocesan Reader Templemore).

The Revd Alison Seymour-Whiteley pictured before her Service of Introduction to the Church of Ireland Templemore Union of Parishes on Friday 20th March 2015.
L-R: The Revd Tim Irvine (Registrar), the Venerable Chris Long (Archdeacon of Ferns and Preacher), the Revd Alison Seymour-Whiteley, the Right Reverend Michael Burrows (Bishop of Cashel, Ferns & Ossory), the Revd Ian Coulter (former priest-in-charge during the vacancy) and Mr Charles Wallace (Diocesan Reader Templemore).

The Welcome:

‘The Flower of Scotland’ provided the unusual and unique opening to this service of introduction for the Revd Alison Seymour-Whiteley and her prospective parishioners.

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The reason being the presence of three Scottish bagpipers from the Templemore Pipe Band who played at the entrance as the clergy gathered.  The pipers created a stirring sound as they marched up the aisle and played to the congregation from the Chancel.  Then from the West Door the Revd Ian Coulter announced the first hymn ‘And can it be that I should gain’ as the clergy processed led by the Archdeacon of Ferns and the priest-elect.  Hazel Tyner took over the accompaniment on the organ.


The collected local congregation was augmented by the wider diocese and local community, including the ecumenical representation of Fr Tom Dunne, the Very Revd Murphy from Drom and the Very Revd Canon Eugene Everard from Templemore.  There were also sisters from the local Sisters of Mercy present. Cllr Joe Burke represented the local political sphere.

The Bishop welcomed everyone and made special mention of those who had travelled from the Diocese of Clogher where the Seymour-Whiteleys had previously ministered before moving to England. He acknowledged all those who had prepared this evening: the music, the piping, the hospitality, the decoration of the church and the preparation of the rectory.  Also those who had looked after the parish liturgically and otherwise through the vacancy period, Charles Wallace and others, and the very significant ministry of Ian Coulter.


One also thinks, continued the Bishop, of those who were not here, especially the previous incumbent who by custom is not present on such an occasion.  Thoughts are therefore with the Revd Peter Cole-Baker and indeed the Bishop had been talking to him earlier in the day.

Since he is not the immediate past incumbent it was good to welcome the Revd Canon Tom Sherlock to the gathering.

The Bishop underlined the word part-time and this had been discussed with the parish and he hoped it would work fruitfully provided that there would be measure of respect for boundary.  Alison will not be available every single moment, except in case of emergencies.



The Archdeacon then presented the Revd Alison Seymour-Whiteley to be introduced by the Bishop who commended the prayers of the congregation and silence was kept.

Ministry of the Word:

The lessons were read by Mr Charlie Wallce and the Revd Richard Seymour-Whiteley and the Gospel by the Revd Ian Coulter.

The Sermon was given by the Venerable Chris Long, Archdeacon of Ferns.

The address:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Archdeacon began with the tale of the clergyman who couldn’t deliver a sermon without it being written out in full.  On one occasion he dropped all the pages in the pulpit and exclaimed ‘Well, we’ll just have to start again!’  Despite being uneasy without a script he stumbled through the address and afterwards, one elderly parishioner thanked him for being so helpful. ‘How so?’ enquired the rector,

You said: ‘Well, we’ll just have to start again.’ There are many occasions in life when we have to do just that, when we leave school, change jobs or move house. Alison is starting again and we welcome her warmly amongst us.

This is not Alison’s first experience of starting again.  On leaving school she studied Art and Interior Design in London. She then worked in Education with a wide-ranging group of people from Pre-school age children, young people in schools to adult learners with disabilities and adults in University and College settings.

Alison is someone who wants other people to flourish, to grow to their fullest extent and to make the most of their opportunities using their own individual skills, abilities and interests.

As part of her training for ministry Alison worked in a parish in East Belfast. Many years previously, when the Archdeacon was studying theology at QUB, in the early 1970s, he spent 15 months working in the same parish.

After East Belfast, and ordination in Clogher Diocese and subsequent work in the Cathedral parishes there Alison eventually felt called to Chaplaincy and has been working in Mental Health for the past three years. Archdeacon Chris Long was also a (Military) Chaplain for 23 years before coming to Enniscorthy 10 years ago!

In some respects Chaplaincy is different from the parochial ministry: very often chaplains work in an ecumenical way – with the advantage of opening up possibilities for ecumenical dialogue. So Alison has had a wide and rich experience of ministry – especially ministry with an emphasis on pastoral work. That said she will have much to learn about parochial ministry. She needs time and all the encouragement that is required.

But Alison has pastoral skills and experience to offer that many parochial clergy would envy.

Alison is married to Richard who was educated at the same theological college in Lincoln as the Archdeacon.

For two clergy couples there is an important issue here about days off and time off.

It is important that Alison and Richard are able to organise their work in such a way that these coincide or dovetail. Hopefully that can be managed.

Lent is a good time for all of us to make a new beginning, to, retain certain things while relinquishing other things. Christian living is about making a new beginning, constantly re-assessing our lives.

There is good in keeping a love for and a commitment to the family A loyalty to the church, or an employer A faith that is meaningful.

But equally, painful memories of failures, frustrations and hurt feelings, petty resentments, prejudices and guilt are best forgotten.

Lent is an excellent opportunity to pause, reflect, take stock and re- assess. We never stop growing: – in maturity, in wisdom, in experience and in faith.

Perhaps the question we need to be asking of ourselves is this: ‘What do I need to let go of in order to go forward with new growth?’  God bless you Alison in your new ministry.

The Introduction

The legalities having already been completed and Alison already licensed there remained for the Archdeacon to present Alison to the Bishop who introduced her to the congregation and commending her ministry, asked her to entrust to her a share in the care of God’s people here and invited her to serve as priest-in-charge of the parish.

The Bishop and Alison as priest-in-charge stood and faced the people as he presented her to the congregation as priest and pastor asking them to support and encourage her in her ministry, praying for her as she will pray for them to which they agreed and they welcomed her with enthusiastic applause.

The ‘Charge’

There followed the ‘Charge’ to the congregation to be called to witness to the love of Christ and to serve others in the name of Christ. This is shown by presenting symbols of the teaching, pastoral and sacramental ministry of a priest by members of the congregation.

The Revd Máirt Hanley brought a bible from the pulpit; Lyla Stanley from Thurles presented a container of water from the font; Adrian Young from Templemore brought a copy of the Book of Common Prayer from the Prayer Desk; Dorothy Bradish from Templemore brought forward bread and wine; Mary Wallace from Templemore presented a vial of oil; Edward Dudley from Kilfithmone presented a towel representing the washing of feet; and the Very Revd Gerald Field, Dean of Cashel presented copies of the Diocesan Directory and finally Mervyn Bradish from Templemore as churchwarden brought forward the key of the church, the door of which is frequently open and which tradition the Bishop remarked, Alison would continue in a world of inclusivity and openness. The sign of Peace was exchanged by all.

Prayers of the People:

The Prayers of the People were led by Alison and who then announced the services for the Union for the following Sunday in all three churches.

The service concluded with the great Welsh hymn ‘Guide me O thy great Jehovah’.  The Bishop quipped that Alison had chosen this before it was known that a key rugby match would be played the following Saturday between Ireland and Wales.

Maybe the Bishop hadn’t realised the implication of the Scottish pipers that opened the service!  However, as we all know, the Saturday proved a exceptional day’s sport and culminated in Ireland’s favour!



Some words of welcome were then spoken by various representatives who welcomed Alison to the Union and wished her every happiness and the parish is very much looking forward to getting to know her.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFr Eugene Everard spoke on behalf of the ecumenical community and offered a warm word of welcome and wished her a very pleasant and happy time in Templemore with much cooperation and coming together between the various communities.




OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASister Rosario also welcomed Alison to the area and quoted some apt lines of poetry by Brendan Kennelly:

‘Though we live in a world that dreams of ending

That always seems about to give in

Something that will not acknowledge conclusion
Insists that we forever begin.’

This prompted the Bishop to recall his acquaintance of the said poet in TCD.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Bishop concluded the words of welcome by saying that it was lovely to be greeting Alison this new chapter in Templemore and Richard in that ‘other county’!  He hoped that while they will be sharing each other’s lives and will be complementing their ministries with ‘appropriate’ overlaps for after all, one being in the province of Munster in the county of Tipperary in the Diocese of Cashel, while the other in the province of Leinster in the county of Laois in the Diocese of Ossory.  What could, speaking figuratively, be further apart?!

Referring to the manner in which he had contacted Alison and Richard re returning to Ireland the Bishop said it all happened after an initial approach, then a time lapse before the situation for both evolved here, then he duly and rather doubtfully perhaps left a second invitation on an answering machine in England and which has finally borne the fruits of endeavour for as the Bishop and his clergy greeted Alison outside the church afterwards he exclaimed, referring to appointments that ‘we are once again full!!’

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAlison had also replied that she had resisted change all her life, from the time when her parents ran a refugee camp in their house so change was never ending. On coming home for the holidays she found packing cases in the hall which meant move and change. Despite being delighted with this change this one is also somewhat difficult moving everything back across the Irish Sea but he feels it is ‘coming home’ as she was ordained in the Church of Ireland.  She thanked everyone for bringing all this about and looked forward to working with the parish.

Tea and refreshments were then served in the town at the Templemore Arms.


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Apr 09

Death of Lord Waterford



John Hubert de la Poer Beresford, 8th Marquis of Waterford, passed away on 11th February 2015 and was laid to rest among his ancestors and relatives in Clonagam cemetery on Saturday 14th February, following a memorable ecumenical service in Clonagam church. 

His remains were received at the church by former rector Canon George Cliffe, priest-in-charge of Fiddown Union the Revd Mellissa Jeffers and Father Richard O’Halloran, CC Portlaw. The church was filled to capacity with a large number in the grounds outside.

Chief mourners were his beloved wife Caroline, sons Tyrone, Charles, James and daughter Alice and extended family members were supported and comforted by the congregation which overflowed to the grounds outside. His brother Lord Patrick Beresford was unable to be present owing to illness.

Lord Waterford served his church well and in many capacities, Diocesan Synod, Select Vestry, parochial nominator and as rector’s churchwarden for many years. A very generous supporter of parish funds he was always willing to make the grounds of Curraghmore House available for parish fund-raising events something which the parish is eternally grateful for.  Within the wider community he was regarded as a good and kindly neighbor.


Chief celebrant at the service was the Revd Canon George Cliffe, recently retired rector of the Fiddown Union of Churches. Canon Cliffe was assisted by the newly appointed, part-time priest in charge – the Revd Mellissa Jeffers, and also from Athy, Co. Kildare, came the now retired Dean of Cashel, the Revd Dr Philip John Knowles, who played the organ. Dr Knowles made many visits to Portlaw in recent years, coming especially to play the organ in Holy Trinity church. There being no electricity, ever, in this church at Clonagam, a generator was in use for the occasion to power the instrument.

Participating also at the service, and representing the wider community, were the Revd Fr Richard O’Halloran, Portlaw; the Very Revd Fr. Ned Hassett, Parish Priest of Abbeyside, Ballinroad and Garranbane; the Very Revd Fr Pat Geer, Ballyneale and the Very Revd Jimmy Brown from the Rosminian community at Glencomeragh House, Carrick-on-Suir.


Tribute (abridged)

To the late Marquis by John Perceval Maxwell:

John Hubert de la Poer Beresford, 8th Marquis of Waterford was better known in the area as Tyrone.  Born in 1933 he succeeded to the title on the untimely death of his father a year later.

Just after the second World War, he was being taught at Eton and then did National Service in the Royal Horse Guards, ‘the Blues’ before returning to the family home, ‘Curraghmore’ in 1956 and marrying Caroline in 1957, starting a happy union of 58 years with Caroline his love, rock and inspiration.

Tyrone took over the family estate form his mother who had resisted all pressure to sell through the difficult years after the 7th Marquis’s death.  Grateful that Curraghmore stayed in the family hands, Tyrone helped it survive with his frugal and hands on management and the help of the staff on the estate, many of whom had been part of it for generations.

As an Irish Peer he regularly attended the House of Lords until hereditary peers were sidelined.

He was a particular lover of polo, hunting, racing and shooting.  He showed himself to be a fearless competitor and a committee member of the All Ireland Polo Club for 50 years and played the game in 14 countries, including places like Hawaii, South Africa, North and South America and England winning many competitions along the way.

He enjoyed seeing his sons and grandchildren follow on in the tradition.

Tyrone bred and trained many horses that played at the top level.

He hunted all over these islands but enjoyed most nearer home in Waterford, Kilkenny and Kilmoganny.

He gathered many wins at point-to-point races and was National Hunt Steward for many years and in his three years as Senior Steward he visited every track in the country.

One of his greatest thrills was to see his horse ‘Imperial Call’ win the Gold Cup with his lifelong friend Fergie Sutherland.

Shooting was another great interest,  whether it was woodcock at Dereen, grouse at Glenbride, quail in Georgia or snipe in Limerick and Curraghmore itself was regarded as one of the best driven pheasant shoots in Ireland.

All of this was centred with much hospitality at Curraghmore with guests worldwide enjoying the wonderful dining room and roaring fires throughout the house.  Friendships, duty, tradition, honesty and a sense of humour were Tyrone’s hallmarks.

The wish by everyone is that there is the ability and resources to carry on the great traditions of Curraghmore as a family home.


The content of the service also included that popular excerpt from the Old Testament – Ecclesiastes – ‘For everything there is a season . . .’, read by Camilla Beresford;   an excerpt from Psalm 118 – ‘The Lord is my strength and my song . . .’, read by Charlie Beresford and a New Testament reading by the Revd Mellissa Jeffers.

Particularly touching was a poem read by Carolina Beresford, which ran as follows:

Remembrance is a golden chain

Death tries to break,

But all in vain.

To have, to love, and then to part

Is the greatest sorrow of one’s heart.

The years may wipe out many things

But some they wipe out never.

Like memories of those happy times

When we were all together.


The service concluded with the entire congregation reciting that well-known Gaelic blessing –

May the road rise up to meet you.’ 

He was laid to rest among his ancestors and other relatives’ directly in front of the church.

Lord Waterford had always been a staunch supporter of the parish and was a member of the Select Vestry.

Because of the very large attendance, many had to remain outside the building for the entire service.

He is survived by his wife, the Marchioness Lady Caroline, his heir, the ninth Marquis Henry Henry Beresford and by Lord Charles, Lord James and Lady Alice.

‘The End of an Era!’. . . remarked a bystander near me, as the burial concluded.


 Material kindly supplied by the Revd Canon George Cliffe and Mr Sean O’Brien of Waterford.


Mar 05

The Visit Of The Rt Revd Robert Paterson Bishop Of Sodor & Man (Link Diocese) over St Brigid’s weekend 2015




Friday 30th January to Monday 2nd February 2015

The Very Revd Gerald Field, Dean of Cashel hosts the Rt Revd Michael Burrows and The Rt Revd Robert Paterson Bishop of Sodor & Man On Sunday 1st February in Cashel

The Very Revd Gerald Field, Dean of Cashel hosts the Rt Revd Michael Burrows and
The Rt Revd Robert Paterson Bishop of Sodor & Man
On Sunday 1st February in Cashel


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.

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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.


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St Brigid

(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.


Mar 05

New CD and Hymnal launched in Irish in Kilkenny

Ardaígí bhur gCroíthe – Lift up your Hearts

Iomainn agus Carúil Choitianta, as Gaeilge

Familiar Hymns and Carols as Gaeilge


Cumann Gaelach na hEaglaise


Cumann Gaelach na hEaglaise launched this CD of 16 hymns and carols, Iomainn agus Carúil Choitianta, as Gaeilge, to meet the needs of the growing number of congregations around the country that seek to worship in Irish or bilingually and would like to include some hymns in their services.

A bilingual hymn book accompanies the CD.  The hymn book is intended to supplement the Church Hymnal which already contains a number of hymns in Irish.


Among a large gathering from all corners of the country, the CD was launched jointly by the Right Revd Michael Burrows (Patron of Cumann Gaelach na hEaglaise) Bishop of Cashel, Ferns and Ossory and the Right Revd Robert Paterson, Bishop of Sodor and Man who spoke on how Manx is being incorporated into worship in the Isle of Man.

The soloists, Cárthach MacCraith, Jacynth Hamill, Éamonn Ó Faogáin and Darren Ó Droma performed at the launch and they were accompanied by ‘Cór Fear na nDéise’ from Co. Waterford.

As well as the two bishops, words of welcome and acknowledgement were spoken by Daíthí O Maolchoille (Chairperson) and Caroline Nolan (PRO).


Bishop Michael Burrows, Patron of Cumann Gaelach na hEaglaise, welcomed everyone, and said ‘I’m delighted about this latest initiative on the part of Cumann Gaelach na hEaglaise and it is a particular pleasure that this launch is taking place in Kilkenny during the visit of Bishop Robert Paterson from the Isle of Man.

His diocese and ours have had a companion relationship for some years now and I have admired the manner in which he has effectively promoted the use of Manx in liturgy… rarely himself completing a service without using some words of it!’


Bishop Burrows had always thought there was need for an improvement in the status of Irish within the COI liturgy since his TCD days when what was available wasn’t altogether attractive to those of his age at that time. Irish hymns were not included in the 1960s hymnal but some Irish hymns did appear in the 2000s edition of the Irish Hymnal, there at least 10 and they are frequently used.

Some years ago the bilingual edition of the prayer book was published and now these hymns with translations were being launched and ahead of the new supplement to the current hymn book, ‘Thanks and Praise’, to be published in due course.


This booklet of hymns offers a variety of styles and seasons and gives another way of encouraging enthusiasm to worship in Irish, despite the limitations of some people’s proficiency in the language.  It also helps to push the contact with the language beyond the context of both primary and secondary education, so long the limiting factor for so many people.

As well as new hymns, there a number of familiar favourites: ‘Is iontach grás’ (‘Amazing Grace’), ‘Bí Thusa i mo shúile’ (‘Be Thou my Vision’), ‘Ag Críost an Síol’(‘Christ is the Seed’) and ‘Sé an Tiarna m’aoire’ (‘The Lord is my Shepherd’).  There are some seasonal well-known Christmas songs such as ‘Oíche Chiuin’ (‘Silent Night’), ‘Tar Chugainn’ (‘O Come Emmanuel’) and ‘I nDúlaíoght an Gheimridh’ (‘In the Bleak Mid-winter’).  There are also some hymns suitable for services with children and hand actions. It is primarily aimed at small services where there is no choir present.


In his remarks Bishop Robert Paterson declared his own limitations in both Manx and Welsh where he had lived for many years.  But he did try to speak both when the opportunities arose. Manx is a mixture of all the Celtic tongues with some English thrown in for good measure.

The Bishop said he had served on the Liturgical Advisory Committee in Wales for many years and instead of straight translation from English to the target language, it was found preferable to use the more poetic disposition of the Welsh liturgy to be constructed initially and then translated into English which seemed to enrich the language considerably.  As a result many of the ancient Welsh Christian songs have found their way into English liturgy in Wales.


Manx Gaelic almost died out in the 20th Century but today it is being encouraged, especially by the church. And now there is a Manx language primary school.  About 5% of the population on the island speak Manx fluently.  There are booklets to help in translation and the Lord’s Prayer is always said in Manx in the cathedral.

And so the Bishop of Sodor and Man officially launched the book and CD and was delighted to bring them back to the Isle of Man, especially to the singers and choirs.

The launch was followed by a short bilingual service with music led by Roisin Rowley-Brooke, the cathedral organ scholar, along with members of the cathedral choir which David Forde also conducted and played the organ. ‘Cór Fear na nDéise’ also added to the singing.  The service was led by Bishop Burrows who invited all to say the Lord’s Prayer in whatever language they were comfortable with to sound a cacophony of diverse worship.  The Bishop of Sodor and and Man gave the final blessing in Manx.


There was a light lunch afterwards and thanks was offered to those who had organised the refreshments.

The exhibition, An Ghaeilge in Eaglaise na hÉireann, will shortly go on display around the Diocese. It provides an insight into the role of extraordinary men and women in the Church who have been advocates for the place and role of the Irish language in the life of the church.


Further information is available from Caroline Nolan, Irish Language Development Officer

Tel: 00+353 85 1632772  or  00+44 7885 633651 or by email: gaeleaglais@gmail.com or www.facebook.com/gaeleaglais

Cumann Gaelach na hEaglaise

The Irish Guild of the Church was founded in 1914 to (1) promote all that tends to preserve within the Church of Ireland the spirit of the ancient Celtic Church and to provide a bond of union for all members of the Church of Ireland inspired with Irish ideals, (2) promote the use of the Irish language in the Church, (3) collect from Irish sources suitable hymns and other devotional literature, (4) encourage the use of Irish art and music in the Church.









Mar 05

Introduction service of the Revd Margaret Sykes to New Ross





THE REVEREND MARGARET SYKES (part-time Priest-in-Charge)

And her commissioning as Diocesan President of the Mothers’ Union

St Mary’s Parish Church, New Ross

Friday 16th January 2015


The introduction of the Reverend Margaret Sykes as preist-in-charge to the New Ross and Fethard-on-Sea Union of parishes at St Mary’s Church, New Ross on Friday 16th January 2015.
L-R: The Revd Tim Irvine (Restrar), The Revd Margaret Sykes, The Rt Revd Michael Burrows, the Very Revd Leslie Forrest (Preacher) and the Ven. Chris Long.

The Welcome:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe large church of St Mary’s Church was warmly illuminated both externally and internally to witness the ceremony of introduction of the Revd Margaret Sykes to the parish.

Outside in the floodlights and the cold winter air, the people ascended the hill and the steps into the porchway to be greeted by the officers of the parish.

 ‘As with gladness men of old’ was the hymn that called God’s people with the organ played by Connie Tantrum announcing the Procession after which the Bishop welcomed everyone and then led the service.

The normally sparsely populated pews were amply filled with parishioners, friends from the ecumenical and political wider community of New Ross.



Special guests included the Rt Revd Mgr Joseph McGrath from New Ross, Cllr Anthony Connick, Cllr John Fleming and Cllr Michael Sheehan.

The Bishop made mention of those who allowed the ministry to continue during the vacancy, especially the Ven. Chris Long and the Revd Canon Roger Harmsworth assisted in many ways by the parishioners.  He also welcomed the Revd Richard Greene. It is not often that the previous cleric in charge would be present but in this case it was good to have him present amongst Margaret’s colleagues.

He reminded the parish that this is a part-time ministry and that there are certain boundaries and he urged the parishioners to respect that, notwithstanding emergencies.

Also present were many from the family of the Mothers’ Union who had come to support their president-elect.

The Bishop also welcomed those who had come from areas where Margaret’s ministry had previously been relished:  Gorey, Ardamine, Ferns and most recently from Baltinglass.

The Bishop thanked all those who had prepared the service for the evening and the hospitality afterwards and he also looked forward to hearing the preacher Dean Leslie Forrest.

The archdeacon presented the Revd Margaret Sykes to be introduced by the Bishop who commended the prayers of the congregation and silence was kept.


Ministry of the Word:

The lessons were read by Joan Deacon and the Revd Margaret Sykes and the Gospel by the Revd Canon Roger Harmsworth.

The Sermon was given by the Very Revd Leslie Forrest former Dean of Ferns.

The address:

The dean began by thanking the Bishop and Margaret for the invitation to speak. It was, he said, a time of considerable strife in the world but everyone had come this evening to bear witness to God’s love and hope.  The French have a saying plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose (the more change there is, the more things stay the same); St John spoke of the light that shines in the darkness that can never be overcome.  The Dean went on to relate a recent experience in Galway with the story of the man who had suffered a diving accident but had survived to recover and tell the tale. ‘A new broom sweeps clean’ maybe an old cliché but the Christian life is more than that: it is a whole life’s journey with all its challenges and opportunities and perhaps sometimes near death experiences.

IMG_5599The River Jordan where Jesus was baptised appears insignificant and for many appears less than there own home waters, nevertheless putting aside dignity and bathing there, it can bring healing and faith. Crowds flocked there to be baptised by John the Baptist and they thought he was the expected Messiah.  He assured them he was only the forerunner, the messenger.  Nevertheless there was an air of excitement and of expectation, of something about to happen.  There was, but Jesus was to arrive quietly and without fuss to seek John’s baptism.

The Dean underlined that everyone had come this evening with expectation and in prayer and in this season of Epiphany to support a new journey of hope that begins for Margaret and for all the parish and community.  He told the congregation that the people are fortunate to welcome Margaret as their priest and he knows from working alongside her, of her pastoral gentleness and compassion and of her wisdom in preaching and of her faith in the God that both loves and challenges.  Just as Jesus reached out for strength from his Father, all here must reach out to minister one another.

The Dean concluded by recalling the words of Archbishop Tutu in that a congregations needs a priest just as the priest needs the people and which he or she serves, existing on their behalf, to help them to love God. The priest is there to serve and to love the people.  According to St Paul, there is not an expectation to be successful but rather be faithful – a great relief to all.

So whether Margaret as president of the Mothers’ Union, a role for which she is eminently suited or as priest-in-charge of the parish, she will need everyone’s prayers as she journeys on through her life and now here in the New Ross area in this exciting stage of her life, the Dean blessed the parish and their new priest.

The Introduction

The Archdeacon presented Margaret to the Bishop who introduced her to the congregation and commending her ministry, aasked her to entrust to her a share in the care of God’s people here and invited her to serve as priest-in-charge of the parish.

The Bishop and Margaret as priest-in-charge stood and faced the people as he presented her to the congregation as priest and pastor asking them to support and encourage her in her ministry, praying for her as she will pray for them to which they agreed and they welcomed her with enthusiastic applause.

The ‘Charge’

IMG_5606Then followed the ‘Charge’ to the congregation to be called to witness to the love of Christ and to serve others in the name of Christ. This is shown by presenting symbols of the teaching, pastoral and sacramental ministry of a priest by members of the congregation.

Desmond Thorpe brought a bible from the pulpit; Neill Williams presented a container of water from the font; Suzanne Barrett brought a copy of the Book of Common Prayer from the Prayer Desk; Mike Barrett brought forward bread and wine; Ruth Watchorn presented a vial of oil; Sam Watchorn presented a towel representing the washing of feet; and the Revd Canon Roger Harmsworth presented copies of the Diocesan Directory and finally Nicola Foley as churchwarden brought forward the key of the church, which the Bishop remarked, hoped to keep the church open to parishioners, to holidaymakers and visitors.

The Peace:

As the sign of Peace was exchanged by everyone, Margaret was greeted specifically by Olive Thorpe, churchwarden of?? – a little clarification possible needed here about Olive’s precise ofices New Ross and Hon. Secretary of the Diocesan Mothers’ Union, and also by Olive Power Branch Chairperson of the MU.

Prayers of the People:

The Prayers of the People were led by Margaret who prayed in particular for her fellow colleagues, for Christian Unity, that there be a light for those who mourn and strength for those who are ill. She lovingly remembered her late husband.

She then announced the services for the Union for the following Sunday in Fethard and Killesk.

Presidential commissioning:

There followed the commissioning of Margaret for her additional and very important ministry in the wider Diocese as President of the Diocesan Mothers’ Union. As the members of the MU stood in solidarity, Margaret was asked by the Bishop if she would accept the office and serve God in the role. Margaret having accepted he admitted her to the office which was acclaimed with loud applause by the assembly.

The Revd Margaret Sykes with officers of the Diocesan Mothers’ Union following her commissioning as Diocesan President at St Mary’s Church, New Ross on Friday 16th January 2015.  L-R: Florrie Carter (Diocesan Secretary), Janet Crampton (Vice-President Ferns), The Revd Margaret Sykes (Diocesan President), Margaret Kingston (Vice-President Cashel) and Linda Ward (Vice-Preident Ossory).

The Revd Margaret Sykes with officers of the Diocesan Mothers’ Union following her commissioning as Diocesan President at St Mary’s Church, New Ross on Friday 16th January 2015.
L-R: Florrie Carter (Diocesan Secretary), Janet Crampton (Vice-President Ferns), The Revd Margaret Sykes (Diocesan President), Margaret Kingston (Vice-President Cashel) and Linda Ward (Vice-Preident Ossory).

Witnessed by the All-Ireland President Phyllis Grothier, Janet Crampton handed over the badge of office to Margaret.  Janet had been the custodian of the badge and the office as vice-president since the death of Maureen Lanigan last year and who was fondly remembered.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASome words of welcome were then spoken by various representatives: Michael Barrett from Whitechurch who said, on behalf of all the churches, that they would the benefit from Margaret’s counsel and welcomed her into the community and looked forward to her time in New Ross.

Fr McGrath welcomed Margaret on behalf his community and hoped that the good relationships that had existed with Richard and those who preceded him would continue.

Phyllis Grothier spoke of meeting with Margaret some time ago when Phyllis persuaded her to become a trustee.  Phyllis remembered the talents of Maureen and that Margaret was now in office with her gifts and enthusiasm and it would be a pleasure and a privilege to serve with her.

Phyllis also paid tribute to Janet Crampton for her wisdom and experience and the vice-presidents for all their endeavours to keep the work and vision of Mary Sumner and indeed of Maureen Lanigan going over the past year and a half.

Phyllis offered her best wishes to Margaret as she took up office – the 2015 MU theme is ‘United in Prayer’ – and the hope that would be especially so for Margaret and her new parish and with the Mothers’ Union.

Before Margaret replied the Bishop recalled the first ordination he had in this diocese eight years ago.  The threeOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA priests ordained then were present on this evening: Robert Stotesbury, Richard Greene and Margaret herself whose ministry is now blossoming even further.  She is, said the Bishop, a person of common sense and someone who is calm, two attributes which would sanctify each day for her and those in which she was contact.  And not to forget her impish good humour and those who know her waits for the moment when her eye twinkles – tension is relieved and perspective restored.  Also her experience of life has brought her depth and she can sit in a kitchen, have fun and at the same time talk about God.  Treasure her!

In reply Margaret thanked everyone for coming and supporting her, especially all those who had travelled, including the busload who came from Baltinglass. She mentioned Dean Leslie who encouraged her to follow the path of ministry and thanked for his helpful address.

She thanked Phyllis for her words and Margaret would endeavour to her best both for the parish and the Mothers’ Union and that she would fulfil God’s calling in her two roles with New Ross as a new base for her.

Finally following the procession of the clergy to the vestry, tea and refreshments were served in the church.










Feb 20

Bishop Michael Burrows completes the 15 stations on Good Friday


Matching liveries!

The Bishop achieved his objective on Good Friday last when he visited fifteen railway stations throughout the length and breadth of his diocese – all in one day.

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Early greeting at Waterford station

Symbolically emulating the traditional stations of the cross, the bishop followed the way of the cross by devising a tight schedule to spend a brief time at certain ralway stations endeavouring not to duplicate a station within a parish.

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Warm cooperation with irish Rail staff throughout

At each point he delivered a short reflection which combined the theme of the relevant religious station with the specific aspect of the area.

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On the road and next stop Carrick-on-Suir

Setting himself a gruelling timetable, he began in Waterford Cathedral with the Litany at 7 a.m. moving to Waterford station where he was greeted by his first group of parishioners and Irish Rail staff.

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It was a long, long way to Tipperary!

This was repeated at each stop along the route, initially incorporating Carrick-on-Suir, Clonmel and Tipperary.  It was then on past Cashel to hit the main Dublin-Cork main line at Thurles and along to Templemore and Ballybrophy.

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A youthful greeting at Thurles

At Ballybrophy he took the first of his two train trips when he travelled the short distance to Portlaoise where he also greeted by Irish Rail Chaplain Gregg Ryan.

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Round the Cross at Templemore

Having accomplished approximately half of the stations, it was on to Kilkenny to draw breath and recognise the quiet time of the Vigil between 2 pm and 3 pm.

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Meeting parishioners and irish Rail personnel at Portlaoise

The second tranche began at Kilkenny station and the small halt of Thomastown.


On a train at last !

It was one of longest road journeys of the day across to the South East corner where the parishioners of Wexford were waiting.  They were being led by the Revd Canon Arthur Minion, barefooted and carrying a full size cross.  After the reflection at O’Hanrahan Station it was on to Enniscorthy while the Wexford people followed their pastor through the streets of Wexford to Selskar Abbey.

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Journey Two – beginning at Kilkenny

At Enniscorthy the Bishop took his second rail trip of the day catching the Dublin bound train as far as Gorey.

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Cross meet Cross at Wexford

Finally it was back West in the long hop by Mt Leinster to the Diocese of Leighlin calling first at Carlow, then the 15th station at Bagenalstown and concluding with Compline ay S Laserian’s Cathedral.  A large congregation of over 80 awaited the Bishop for 10 p.m.

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Reflection from on high at Gorey

While not a fund-raising exercise, a collection taken at each station for the benefit fund of Irish Rail who had been cooperative in the venture.


Light and night in Carlow

A longer illustrated account will be pubilshed in due course.

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