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Diocese of Cashel, Ferns and Ossory

Bishop’s March 2020 Letter




Dear Friends

 I write in the midst of planning my Disestablishment 150 visit to each of the 150 churches and chapels in the United Dioceses.

As many readers will be aware, I hope to talk briefly in 150 locations about significant events that happened in each of the years between 1870 (just after the parliamentary enactment of the Disestablishment legislation) and 2019.

I have at this stage prepared my short reflections, year by year, up to 1972. It has been a rather bigger task than I had originally imagined, but it is fascinating to work afresh through the unfolding narrative of our recent history. Of course, it becomes increasingly fascinating as one comes to events that are within one’s own lifetime and memory – how does one view them with proper perspective and objectivity?


Be that as it may, the ‘peregrinations’ will take place on a series of dates between May 22 next and the Diocesan Festival Service which will mark their conclusion, on Sunday June 21 at 1900 in St Canice’s Cathedral. 

Our magazine editor and Diocesan Communications Officer, Margaret Hawkins, is hard at work on the necessary publicity material, printed and otherwise, for all of this and it should begin to reach parishes over the coming weeks. 

The hope of course is that, in order to make a link between our commemoration and the needs of today’s world, an average sum of €150 will be raised in each of the 150 venues.  These gifts will again, via the Church of Ireland Bishops’ Appeal, be used to support literacy projects in two different states on the African continent, Burkina Faso and Ethiopia.


We realise now that Disestablishment freed the church from state control and allowed it to take control of its own future; similarly the gift of literacy gives countless people today (especially women) the opportunity and the freedom to determine their own futures. 

Our Bishops’ Appeal partner projects in this endeavour are again overseen by the Mothers’ Union and the international development agency Feed the Minds. If each church / community / location is to provide an average contribution of €150 euro (and of course there is nothing to stop it offering a little more!) perhaps Lent is the time to consider what initiative might be taken to raise the funds.


It could be something quite modest and seasonal – a famine lunch, a sponsored day’s fast, a small sale, a special collection, a sponsored walk or cycle or a youth – inspired event. The list is endless. But I hope in every place something can be arranged that is imaginative and participative, and indeed sociable and enjoyable as well. Every blessing to all the parishes for whatever you are doing to make Lent and its atmosphere just a little different and even somewhat demanding …


It is always so interesting to observe what happens all over the diocese to mark, even in our modern hectic world, this season of growth and discipline and stillness. It all leads of course to Holy Week and onwards to the exuberant experience of Easter joy and triumph, which still seems very far away as I write these lines. 


But, amongst Easter celebrations in the diocese, I always specially commend the dawn Easter morning Eucharists which occur in many outdoor venues, and which have rightly become immensely popular given the manner in which they uniquely capture the sense of journeying from darkness to light, and going in heart and mind to the sepulchre of Jesus only to be both bamboozled and utterly transformed by what has happened.   

The Dawn Eucharist in which I am personally and indeed now traditionally involved takes place (by kind invitation of Mr Thomas Cosby) at Stradbally Hall Co Laois (the Electric Picnic venue) at the edge of the lake.  Attending it, and enjoying the subsequent hospitality, is a uniquely wonderful seasonal experience of worship and well worth the early start. So, if you are thinking of coming, the time of the service for Easter 2020 (and the time of course varies from year to year) is 0555 on Sunday April 12. Do please make sure to note this now.  Entrance is via the main gate of Stradbally estate in Stradbally village, and I look forward to meeting many of you then.

But meanwhile, may whatever you may take up or give up for Lent be a means of true spiritual enrichment.


Michael Cashel Ferns and Ossory