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Diocese of Cashel, Ferns and Ossory

Bishop’s Monthly Letter – January 2022


Dear Friends

The New Year brings with it an impressive array of diary fixtures in relation to ministry – of course as I write on December 8th it is impossible to predict how we will fare in relation to safe attendance levels and the like…. But let me joyfully list what is in store.

Commissioning of three Diocesan Readers

We are always so indebted to our Diocesan Readers for the huge contribution they make to the diocese, of course following demanding and university-accredited theological training which is coordinated by the Very Reverend Tom Gordon. On 9th January at 4 p.m. in Leighlin Cathedral three new Readers will be added to the band – Andrew Pender (Baltinglass), Thomas Cooke (Kilcooley) and Heidi Good (Kilkenny).

We wish them every blessing as they are commissioned and sent forth for service. Furthermore, it is good to report that three further candidates will embark on Reader training in the New Year. It is interesting that all are from the Munster section of the diocese – perhaps somehow the Holy Spirit is drawing our attention to particular current needs in providing liturgical and pastoral cover in that region, and thus raising up aspirants to Readership and perhaps in due time to Ordained Local Ministry also. That said, we hope that many people all over the diocesan area might give heed to what they might be in a position to offer through service not least as Readers.

Ordination of the Reverend Pat Coleman to the priesthood (olm)

In the context of Ordained Local Ministry, the Reverend Pat Coleman will be ordained priest again in Leighlin Cathedral at 4 p.m. on Sunday January 30th. Pat was ordained deacon in September 2020 and is a familiar face in several of the parishes of the Barrow Valley, but her diaconate has lasted rather longer than the customary year given the occurrence of lockdowns and the fact that she was waiting to undergo orthopaedic surgery, from which she is now recovering well. So we can look forward joyfully to her ordination as a priest in the Church of God.

Institution and installation – Kilkenny

On Tuesday February 1 at 7.30 p.m., the Feast of St Brigid, the Reverend Stephen Farrell of whose coming I wrote last month will be instituted as rector of Kilkenny Union and also installed as dean of Ossory. Such ceremonies are always powerful and historic liturgical occasions, and our thoughts are very much with Stephen and his family as they pack boxes and move to the vast and elegant house by the cathedral gates which must be a wonderful place for children with a sense of adventure and imagination to grow up!

Dean of Cashel

There has been much joy in the diocese (although bittersweetness in Kells and Inistioge) that the new dean of Cashel comes from among our own clerical family. We all know and admire Canon James Mulhall particularly in the context of his work with children and with Safeguarding. Again and again, we have been grateful for his huge expertise and professional background in this area. He will bring an abundance of pastoral wisdom and lightly-worn learning to his ministry in Cashel, where he will be instituted as rector of Cashel Union and installed as dean at 7 p.m. on Sunday February 13th. He will continue his work with Safeguarding for a transitional period (which is most generous of him) but already we are giving consideration to how this vital work may otherwise be provided in our midst. James will also kindly assist with a measure of pastoral support in Clonmel Union while the vacancy there continues and the best way forward in ministry is charted.


While mentioning here some of our continuing vacancies, I would like to record our thanks to the several retired clergy and readers who assist us so much especially in Kilcooley, New Ross and Clonmel … and they could not do it without great lay leadership on the ground. I think of Archdeacon Bantry White in Kilcooley /Fertagh who also does some invaluable weekday pastoral work, Archdeacon John Murray and Dr Robert MacCarthy in Clonmel and until recently the Reverends Ivan Dungan and Richard Greene in New Ross and Fethard. New Ross parishioners also benefit hugely from the great support given to them by Canon Cruickshank, which his parishioners in Killanne tolerate so graciously.

I also would want to mention gratefully the Reverend Bronwen Carling and the Reverend Mike O Meara in Cashel as the vacancy there nears a conclusion. And added to the heroes of these times of such a remarkable level of vacant incumbencies in the diocese must be Dr Richard Marsh, Bishop’s Vicar in Kilkenny and Dr Christine O Dowd Smyth, curate in Waterford. I could go on and on offering much-deserved thanks, not least to the reader teams in our cathedral parishes, and obviously there are clergy and readers simply too numerous to mention who readily make themselves available to sustain our wider worshipping life.

In addition, and very positively, even as I write, I am cautiously optimistic that after what seems a very long wait, we will soon have white smoke in relation to the remaining vacant deanery, that of Waterford.


Of course, as we welcome new arrivals into our midst we also take leave of those who have served us fruitfully and well. In the New Year, Canon Arthur Minion with  his wife Susan will leave Wexford and Kilscoran for the parish of Birr in the diocese of Killaloe. Arthur has served with great devotion in two incumbencies in this diocese – the other being Tinahely and Carnew. I feel I know Arthur particularly well as he was my curate in Bandon in the mid 1990s and I learned of his wonderful hospitality, desire to immerse himself totally in the life of the community, deep love of the traditions of the Church of Ireland and dedication to the morequiet priestly disciplines such as the maintenance of daily public worship. The Reverends Conor O Reilly and Ciaran Kavanagh and their team will have a busy but rewarding time in Wexford during the months of vacancy that lie ahead. However before Arthur leaves he must participate once more in that ecumenical event which has made his charitable work, and that of previous rectors of Wexford also, renowned in the town and its hinterland, namely the annual Christmas church steps fast outside St Iberius’ Church. By the time you read this it will, we hope, be safely over, but it is a huge part of Wexford life, and any potential successor will have to prepare themselves for a very disciplined and abstemious ‘run up’ to Christmas in years to come!!

A blessed, hopeful and, dare I suggest, somewhat less Covid-confused 2022 to all readers, and also to our editor and her committee whose enrichment of this magazine did so much to cheer the year that is ending. I also want to thank publicly my two archdeacons and the diocesan office staff without whose hard work and constant kindness the recent months of major flux in the diocese would have been almost impossible to navigate.



Michael Cashel Ferns and Ossory