Bishop’s Monthly Letter – July 2018
This month our Bishop has more good news on the curate front, he pays tribute to retiring principals, mentions the importance of church noticeboards, asks us to welcome summer visitors and encourages us all not to forget to participate in the local household of faith during the busy summer season ahead
Last month I referred to a significant number of impending clerical changes in the diocese and to the various dates when individuals will be embracing their new ministries.
Trevor Sargent to be curate in Waterford Union
I am delighted to add to the list the Ordination of Trevor Sargent as a priest, which will take place on Saturday September 8 at 1600 in Christ Church Cathedral Waterford. We are thrilled that Trevor, who has served for the past year as a deacon in Tullow Group, will be staying in the diocese following his nomination as curate in Waterford Union. As he joins the ministry team there, I know that many friends who have been part of his pilgrimage over the years will want to be alongside him on his ordination day.
Good wishes for retiring principals
I also mentioned last month the retirement this summer of a significant number of our cherished primary school principals. I add this month the name of Ms Valerie Whitten who is leaving Maryborough NS in Portlaoise, now so well-established on its new site under her leadership. We wish her well for the years ahead.
While I cannot chronicle all the summer changes in the teaching profession across the diocese here, I want to note this month another retirement that occurs after a teaching career of exceptional length and fruitfulness. Ms Caroline Richardson retires after forty years’ service, of which the last thirty five were spent in Carlow NS. A huge number of children had the basic building blocks of all their subsequent education put in place in her room through her skill and kindness.
Noticeboards still needed outside churches
And so we head into the summer, when many of our churches continue to welcome seasonal visitors and to provide additional opportunities for holiday worship. As I often say to our ‘own’ people at this time of year, please make sure that are visitors are noticed, greeted and sensitively welcomed. It can be easy to proclaim on the church notice board “All Welcome”, but we need to consider and evaluate constantly how those words are rendered true in practice. Our diocesan website and local websites and Facebook pages provide excellent information about the times of services across our nearly 150 churches. That said, the old-fashioned system of an accurate and easily read notice board outside each church retains considerable value. And, ideally, if a particular church is not in use on a certain Sunday of the month, the notice board should point the visitor towards a place where worship is indeed taking place that day.
Pope Francis will be most notable visitor this summer
The most notable August visitor to Ireland will of course be Pope Francis! I’m old enough to remember the papal visit of 1979 … encountering the extraordinary crowds in Dublin, attending the ecumenical vigil in St Patrick’s Cathedral, watching surging throngs en route to the Phoenix Park unrestrained by the limitations of modern Health and Safety. It is a truism to say that Pope Francis is coming this year to an Ireland that has changed utterly. However, all Christians of goodwill will hope and pray that his visit will bring refreshment and inspiration to the cause of faith in our land. Far beyond his own church, Francis has become admired as someone who epitomises pastoral compassion, unfailingly finds the right words in demanding situations, constantly pleads the cause of the poor and the weak, yet carries about with him an infectious joy rooted in the Gospel. He and his flock can be assured of our interest and our prayers in what will be very special days for Ireland. We will be keen to observe the progress of his visit, and will listen with great interest to what he may choose to say.
Enjoy and join
For the moment, however, despite all the season’s demands, whether of the land … or of examination results … or of making major decisions about new chapters in life – do enjoy the summer and, wherever you are, do not neglect to join the local household of faith in prayer and in the breaking of the bread.
Michael Cashel Ferns and Ossory