ALL THAT LIES AHEAD
As I write this to you, I am physically in Cork sitting in my study, but my mind is jumping ahead to November, and to all that lies ahead for me and my family as I become your bishop. I do so with a sense of great excitement and anticipation. I look forward to meeting you, living among you and journeying with you in our common pilgrimage as a faith community. I am also grateful to all those who have held the fort during the episcopal vacancy, not least Archdeacon Ruth Elmes who has served as Commissary. Unfortunately, Ruth had to spend some time in hospital recently and I know her clerical colleagues, parishioners and many friends in the Diocese, wish her a speedy and full recovery. We assure her of our continued prayers as she is given the space and time to regain her full health. In the light of this, the Archbishop of Dublin asked Dean Paul Mooney to take over as Commissary. His willingness to do this, and to chair the recent meeting of the Diocesan Synod, is much appreciated.
I also take this opportunity to thank others who have been involved in the practical preparations for our arrival. Denise Hughes and the members of the See House Committee have worked hard to ensure that redecoration and some minor changes were made to the Bishop’s House. It is a lovely modern home, which combines formal spaces for entertainment with more private and intimate rooms for family use. We look forward to making it a very happy home for the years ahead.
I also thank Eliz Keyes, our Diocesan Secretary. In recent months she has worked in the Diocesan Office, largely on her own, to keep the administrative machinery of the Diocese running smoothly. The departure of Rita Cammaer as Assistant Diocesan Secretary has meant that resources are spread thinly at the moment. This will have to be rectified in the near future, but we acknowledge all that Eliz has done during the vacancy, and I look forward to working closely with her. Margaret Hawkins has kept me supplied with recent issues of this excellent publication, as I read my way into all that is happening in Cashel, Ferns and Ossory. I am very grateful to her.
You will see, elsewhere in this issue of the Diocesan Magazine, information concerning the various enthronements which will happen in our six different cathedrals in the coming weeks and months. This will give me an opportunity to meet people in their local contexts. I look forward to doing this and being able to feel that I have a fuller picture of life and worship across the united dioceses. In anticipation for what lies ahead, I thank the six deans for all the work they have done to prepare for these services.
In recent weeks, our home has been decluttered, a skip has been filled with the redundant things we cannot give away. Many trips have been made to charity shops and the recycling plant. We have decided on what we are bringing to Kilkenny and what we no longer require. Such a reappraisal of our possessions is necessary from time to time, and as we have been living in the same house for almost twenty years, the task has been considerable.
The same is true when it comes to the less tangible aspects of life and faith. At the end of this month, we begin the season of Advent. It is a time of spiritual preparation, a time to reassess what treasures we take with us on our Christian pilgrimage as individuals and corporately as the people of God. It also is a time to look again at what must be left behind and discarded as it no longer serves a purpose.
As I prepare for my ordination and consecration in Christ Church Cathedral on 30th October, I am mindful of the inheritance into which I will step. Since the time of Bishop Willoughby, I have known all your previous bishops well, not least my immediate predecessor, Bishop Michael Burrows. I am also aware that I will have to do much listening and learning in the months ahead. The task of anyone in Christian leadership is to recognise that God is always ahead of us in every situation, and often all we are required to do is to open our eyes to see what is already in front of us.
One symbol of office that will be presented to me at my consecration is my episcopal ring. It is a traditional gold ring with an amethyst inset. On the inside, a biblical reference is engraved. It is Psalm 78:72 which reads ‘he shepherded them with a devoted heart and with skilful hands he guided them.’ Please pray for me in the weeks and months ahead as I will pray for you. Under God, may this be reflected in what I say and do as I become your bishop.
+ Adrian Cashel, Ferns and Ossory.