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Diocese of Cashel, Ferns and Ossory

Bishop’s Monthly Letter – July 2019

Áras an Uachtarán Cóisir



 Dear Friends

The summer beckons! We hope readers will find moments of refreshment and relaxation, that those anxiously awaiting exam results will experience joy in due course, that the visitors who continue to come particularly to our coastal churches will experience a warm welcome and find delight in our presence.
As I write we await the special synod concerning diocesan strategic planning of which I wrote at some length last month. By the time these words appear we can assume the actual process will be getting under way, and we offer those charged with a demanding task our prayers and wish them good luck in the name of the Lord.
As I write too I have been hearing much positive reaction to our diocesan eve-of-Pentecost celebration which brought the diocese together powerfully albeit in the context of cyberspace. This was an imaginative and daring project, involving huge work and attention to detail and in due course something to be repeated in an appropriate manner. Many participants have spoken of how they found the drama in particular moving and memorable. I keep watching it and noticing each time further little details concerning the mood of the disciples as they waited upon the Spirit with a blend of expectation and apprehension.  On a more frivolous level, but in response to many queries – the episcopal beard was purely a (very realistic) theatrical job!
This issue of our magazine focuses much on the arrival of Ordained Local Ministry into our midst, training for it, wider expectations surrounding it, challenges and opportunities we will face as this particular manifestation of ordained ministry beds down in our diocese. The first ordination of an OLM deacon will be in Old Leighlin Cathedral at 8pm on Friday 13 September, when Janet Finlay will be ordained. She will serve thereafter in the two parochial contexts which have been specially part of her journey to date, namely Killeshin and Portlaoise / Ballyfin. Other ordinations of persons who will be serving in the context of OLM will take place in 2020
Developing this theme somewhat, Sunday 15 September will throughout the Church of Ireland be a day of reflection on vocation to ministry, and ordained ministry in particular. A rich collection of online resources including a splendid video which was previewed to great effect at the recent General Synod will be available. We are grateful to our diocesan Director of Ordinands Dean Paul Draper, who alongside the Revd Nicola Halford, his co-worker in this role, will be encouraging an imaginative approach to Vocations Sunday across the diocese.
Ordained ministry is of course only one type of outworking of a Call to what is so often these days referred to as intentional discipleship. The church is enriched by a myriad of ministries, the vast bulk of them lay. Often those whose witness is rooted in their daily work and integrity outside the narrowly ‘churchy’ context will have ministries every bit as varied and fruitful as any ordained person. Sometimes, in the delicate and detailed process of assisting people to discern what their true vocation may be, persons who initially considered ordained ministry to be for them may in fact be guided in other directions and urged at least in the short term to open other doorways. This can often be a challenging and even painful process for all involved, and it needs to be emphasised that, alongside those recommended for training for OLM or any other manifestation of ordained ministry, there will always be those who were not so recommended and who were urged to fulfil their genuine vocation to build up the Kingdom via other pathways. In all our talk of vocation and in the midst of our joy when we do have ordinations, we need to be sensitive to those for whom vocational discernment may not have proved straightforward, and we need to avoid any narrow clericalizing of the rich possibilities of vocational language.
We rejoice with Kilkenny College in the appointment, from September, of Alex Morahan to be its new full time Chaplain. Alex has extensive experience in both education and ministry and lives in Bunclody Union. In recent times he has ministered as a full time healthcare chaplain across a number of Dublin hospitals. We wish him every blessing, and on another educational level we warmly congratulate the Revd David Compton on being awarded the degree of PhD by the University of Dublin.

So no magazine in August!! Again a very Happy Summer to our editor and all readers.

Michael Cashel Ferns and Ossory