By the time we have travelled through the summer months the diocese will be greatly changed, especially in the part of it that lies within Munster, by the retirements of three distinguished members of the clergy during the month of August. I shall mention each of them in the order in which their retirement will take effect.
The Very Reverend MARIA JANSSON has spent almost her entire ordained ministry in these United Dioceses, first in Wexford/Kilscoran Union and more recently as dean of Waterford and rector of Waterford Union. In both places she has had the joy and responsibility of ‘training’ a succession of curates (the last being Christine O Dowd Smyth who becomes full time curate in Waterford even as Maria leaves), all of whom were deeply influenced by her. Her hard work, pastoral zeal and effective preaching need no further emphasis from me, but I would want to stress the amount of time generously given to those aspects of ministry which no one sees… the care for those on the edges, and the careful awareness of those with personal need. Through her communication skills and clearly articulated views, she has become a well-known voice in the wider national media, and one doesn’t expect that voice to become any more silent now! We wish Maria well in a new chapter of life, in the major academic project she proposes to undertake, and in continuing to be the kind of voice that never offers comfort to a church that sometimes prefers to slumber than to embrace costly justice.
The Reverend Canon BARBARA FRYDAY has also given a veritable lifetime of service to this diocese in a variety of ministries, all well rooted in her professional background as an educator and her family context amid the daily demands of farming. She has been rector of Clonmel Union since 2007, and previously served as incumbent of Kilcooley with Fertagh. Barbara has shown extraordinary commitment to steady parochial rural ministry in this diocese, bearing people on her heart and leading their worship with the proper blend of reverence and joy. Her experience and wisdom have been of particular benefit to our diocesan Readers, whose Warden she has been for nearly all of my own time in the diocese. We wish Barbara and John well as they settle back into life ‘on the farm’ near Dundrum and thank her for the good sense and practical insight she has brought to so many aspects of diocesan life … she was also Chair for many years of one of our diocesan property committees. Hers has been a very well-rounded ministry in our midst.
The Very Reverend GERALD FIELD came to the deanery of Cashel and incumbency of Cashel Union at the start of 2014 from the parish of Tullamore in Co Offaly where he already had a deservedly excellent pastoral reputation. His ministry among us has been characterised by clarity of thought, efficiency, and the richness that derives from service over many years in a range of wider Anglican settings. In particular, the diocese and his parishioners have benefitted from the creativity and imagination that are inevitably associated with a priest who also serves as Secretary to the Liturgical Advisory Committee of the General Synod … one of the wider Church’s most demanding voluntary tasks. Gerald is a true pastoral and practical liturgist … he knows what will actually ‘work’ fruitfully in the local setting, and there is a constant dialogue in his mind between what I might call the text in gestation and the same text in the hand of the parish priest. We are blessed to have Gerald among us in recent years, we wish him and Lucy well in Co Roscommon, and we will miss his liturgist’s skill in always finding the ‘happy phrase’ to move a situation forward.
Readers will be aware of the huge impact these three retirements, all coming at the same time, will have on the pastoral life of the diocese. We can but do our best to chart the way forwards with confidence and wisdom. We will always strive to maintain worship and pastoral care on the ground, but we also ask people to bear patiently with us when the provision of ‘cover’, particularly in parts of Tipperary and Waterford, becomes particularly stretched over the months immediately ahead.
Furthermore, at the end of a year in our schools that has had its own unprecedented challenges, I want to offer grateful good wishes to one of our retiring Principals. Ms DAPHNE HARDING retires from Cosby NS, Stradbally, Co Laois, after a lengthy and fruitful principalship which has touched for good the lives of many students all of whom she has cared for and known well in their unique individuality. Stradbally has been a living example of all that is lovely and to be cherished in the life of a ‘small school’ … a place with just two main classrooms but a wonderful family atmosphere where education seems to flow almost from conversation and the experiences of different age groups in the same room cause daily mutual enrichment. Ms Harding leaves the school at a time when its buildings and facilities have been marvellously upgraded and we congratulate her and the school Board Chair, Mr Thomas Cosby, on this great legacy from her service and vision there. As we wish Daphne much future happiness, we also welcome her successor as Principal Ms Jackie Cooper – someone who already knows the school wonderfully well.
Michael Cashel Ferns and Ossory