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Diocese of Cashel, Ferns and Ossory

Bishop’s Monthly Letter – February 2022

 Dear Friends

 Last month I wrote here – “I am cautiously optimistic that … we will soon have white smoke in relation to our remaining vacant deanery, that of Waterford.”

And indeed we have good news! The Reverend Bruce Hayes will be instituted as rector of Waterford Union and installed as dean at 7 p.m. on Wednesday April 6th.

Mr Hayes will bring to his new ministry a varied portfolio of pastoral experience. Coming from Dublin, he served his curacy in the early noughties in St Finnian’s, Cregagh, Belfast under the guidance of that redoubtable son of Co Waterford, Noel Battye. He then travelled all the way to Skibbereen Co Cork for his first incumbency, where predecessors included John Neill and Trevor Lester … both of whom were to become deans of Waterford! Since 2013 he has been rector of Dalkey in Dublin where, remarkably, his predecessor was another son of this diocese, Ben Neill, who also had been dean of Waterford. So I think we can take it that almost by osmosis Bruce already knows a great deal about the joys, opportunities and atmosphere of the parish to which he is moving!

Seriously, we greatly look forward to welcoming him and Samantha and their sons most warmly to Ireland’s ‘oldest’ city in the spring. Recently the Irish Times told us in a survey that Waterford was the most desirable city in which to live in this land so we hope that Bruce’s experiences will prove that assertion to be at least in some measure correct!

Appointments of Canons

While referring to cathedrals, I have made some appointments to the chapter of St Canice’s. Following the recent retirement of Canon Barbara Fryday, Canon Brian O Rourke of Tullow is happy to assume the dignity of Treasurer. His canon’s stall will in turn be filled by the Reverend Robert Jones, rector of Kiltegan.

Canon Jones served with distinction in a variety of contexts in the Church of Ireland for nearly forty years before returning to our midst in 2018. We have been greatly enriched by his accumulation of experience and wisdom, but I am very conscious that in returning among us he forsook dignities that had been rightly bestowed on him in other places so I am delighted that he has now agreed to be part of the Chapter of St Canice’s, the cathedral where he once sang as a boy chorister.

The new dean of Cashel, Dean James Mulhall, has an ex officio place in St Canice’s chapter so I need to fill the canonry which he had previously held in his own right. I have decided to bestow it on the Bishop’s Vicar, the Reverend Dr Richard Marsh. From time to time when the Bishop’s Vicar is also a person of great experience, wisdom and indeed scholarship it is right that he or she is also part of the Chapter of the cathedral. Richard has brought to Kilkenny and to the diocese an extraordinary vastness of experience and insight not least from wider Anglicanism, and I really feel this deserves appropriate recognition and celebration.

The Reverend Trevor Sargent appointed a trustee of USPG

One other recent appointment in the bigger Anglican context deserves mention. The Reverend Trevor Sargent has recently been appointed a trustee of the USPG, the international Anglican mission agency that dates from 1701.

Its understanding of mission in terms of partnership and service has evolved richly – indeed I quote a marvellous line from its own website. ‘In the face of environmental degradation, turbulent global politics, gender injustice, the forced displacement of millions of people, and the harassment and killing of indigenous peoples – we believe the churches of the Anglican Communion are called urgently in mission to be communities of resistance and hope, witnesses to the healing power of Christ’s love’.

Anyone who knows Trevor Sargent will know the attributes he brings to the pursuit of this vision, and how in his role with USPG he can also be in our own midst a voice for true Gospel priorities that can all too easily be overlooked when we become over-preoccupied with the local and forget the bigger but urgent challenges of contemporary mission.

 Rachael Murphy appointed National Children and Families Development worker

Finally … and looking again towards Bunclody … you will have read in the January issue of the appointment of Bunclody parishioner Rachael Murphy to be the National Children and Families Development worker for the Church of Ireland. I warmly congratulate Rachel on this appointment which is so full of exciting opportunities in terms of the resourcing, empowering and prioritisation of this work across the parishes of the land. It is an honour for the diocese that the person appointed to this new national post comes from among us, and indeed it indicates how, thanks to the work of people like James Mulhall and before him Isobel Jackson, we ourselves have devoted so much emphasis over the years to children’s ministry. As James moves on to Cashel, I have heard tributes from beyond as well as within Ireland to his reputation and contribution in the world of children’s ministry. We will now watch Rachael’s career with great interest and prayerful hope, and we know that ours will be one of many dioceses which will benefit from all she has to offer.

 Michael Cashel Ferns and Ossory

 Note: This letter was written for the 8th January Magazine deadline