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Diocese of Cashel, Ferns and Ossory

Bishop’s Monthly Letter – June 2018

In this month’s letter Bishop Burrows tells us about clerical changes in the Diocese and about the dean-elect for Ossory. He also thanks retiring teachers for their commitment and enthusiasm and has news of the garden party he is planning for all those he has confirmed since he became bishop in 2006.


Dear Friends

Last month I mentioned some impending clerical changes in the diocese, including the arrival of the Revd Conor O Reilly as curate in Wexford/Kilscoran on July 3 and the Revd Victor Fitzpatrick as rector in Clonenagh (Mountrath) on August 24. I also mentioned the move of Canon Peter Tarleton to Portlaoise, The Rock & Ballyfin and I can confirm that I will introduce him to the parishioners as priest-in-charge during a celebration of the Holy Communion in St Peter’s, Portlaoise, at 1930 on Saturday August 18.


The Revd David McDonnell, at present rector in Dunfanaghy, Co Donegal, has been nominated as rector of Kilkenny Union and I have indicated to him that I will also be appointing him as Dean of Ossory. The Service of Institution and Installation will be in St Canice’s Cathedral at 2000 on Thursday August 30. The dean-elect comes originally from Co Monaghan,and has already considerable experience both of cathedral life (he was at one stage curate in the Christ Church Cathedral group of parishes in Dublin) and of rural parochial ministry. The much- lauded restoration and reordering of Dunfanaghy parish church provides evidence both of his pastoral leadership and of his tasteful wisdom in the stewardship of church fabric. His present parish includes part of the Donegal Gaeltacht, where his own pre-ordination experience as a teacher in an all Irish-speaking primary school has stood him in good stead. We greatly look forward to welcoming him to Ossory and as I contemplate his relative youth (compared to myself) I cannot but feel that an aspect of the leadership of the diocese is passing to what the media like to call these days the Varadkar generation!


Changes are abundant too in the twenty- eight primary schools of which I am patron. No less than six principals are leaving us this summer. Ms Judy Pomeroy is retiring from Ferns, Ms Mary Steacy from Carnew, Ms Janet Twigg from Waterford and Ms Sylvia Eades from Dunleckney/Bagenalstown. Ms Josephine Chamney is retiring from the High Support Special School in Kilkenny of which both the bishops of Ossory are co-patrons. In addition, Ms Vicky Barron is moving from Wexford St Iberius to take up a new position. I want on behalf of us all to offer profound thanks to all these principals for their commitment and enthusiasm, and to wish them well in the next chapter of their lives. They have made a huge contribution to the lives of many, and they all remind me of just how challenging and relentless these days is the role of a principal who is also a classroom teacher. Yet they have seemed at all times models of cheerfulness and positivity. Great responsibility now devolves on the Chairpersons of all the schools concerned who will now have to work with nominees of the patron on appointment boards to ensure a worthy succession.

As I contemplate retirements in education landing frequently on my desk at this time of the year, I also want to pay tribute to Ms Doreen Pierce who retires this summer as assistant teacher in Kiltegan after no less than thirty- nine years’ service in that two teacher school. Her dedication and commitment absolutely sum up the ethos and atmosphere of that school, and she is rightly regarded locally with very great affection.


One final happening to flag. On SATURDAY 15 SEPTEMBER I am hosting an afternoon party and celebration in the grounds of my home in Kilkenny which is to be a reunion of as many as possible of those whom I have confirmed in the dozen years since 2006. In other words this should be a very special, memorable and large event with something to offer to a wide range of ages. The Revd Nicola Halford is kindly working with me and leading a team of people who are resolved to make this initiative a success. She will be writing of our plans month by month elsewhere in the magazine.

Essentially we want to spread the news about this celebration in every possible way, and to offer a variety of means by which interested persons can apply to receive an invitation between now and mid- August. They (or a parent if they are under eighteen) will then be contacted directly. We depend too on clergy to alert their parishioners, as well as eligible persons who may by now have travelled away from the diocese, to the warm welcome they will receive if they return to Kilkenny on September 15. Clergy across the diocese will have received letters seeking their cooperation and assistance with this project.

We truly hope this can be a happy and a special day for those confirmed through the years, an opportunity to meet friends, to celebrate and to reflect on how life has unfolded since the day of laying-on of hands. So, if these words apply to YOU, whether you were confirmed in 2018 or 2006 or in any other year in-between, and whatever your age … Plan to come, encourage your friends, create a momentum … for this should be a unique gathering not to be missed!

Michael Cashel Ferns & Ossory