REAPING THE BENEFITS
One of the joys of moving house in the winter is discovering what is in the garden in the spring. In the last couple of months, we have enjoyed the snowdrops and daffodils, which have pushed their way through the soil. Now, as I write, I can see bluebells and trees producing buds and fresh vibrant green leaves. I am very much looking forward to seeing the rare tulip tree, which is just outside my window, in full leaf this summer. All this work of planting was done by previous generations of bishops, or perhaps more accurately by their gardeners. They planted the trees, shrubs and bulbs, but we are now benefiting from their labours. Hopefully in the years to come, Jacqui and I will leave our own modest stamp on the garden here at Bishop’s House for my successors to enjoy.
Fruits of what others have planted
As I look at my diary for the weeks ahead, I see the fruits of what others have planted, but from which we all now benefit. By the time you read this, we will have had our special synod which met in Kilkenny College on 29th April to consider the Report of the Diocesan Review Commission. It was circulated in soft and hard copy well in advance of the meeting to allow all members of the Diocesan Synod to read it. This is the result of much work over four years, visiting parishes, contacting clergy, collecting information, analysing data, all with the expressed aim of helping us as a Diocese move forward having established priorities and a possible road map into the immediate future. We are building on the foundations laid by past generations but adapting things to suit contemporary needs. I want to take this opportunity to thank Dorcas Collier-Hannon, who chaired the Commission, as well as the members, Eric Driver, Phyllis Grothier, Gillian Purser, Linda Rainsberry, Canon Ian Cruickshank, Canon Robert Jones and also Dean Tom Gordon who was a member between 2019 and 2021.
Attended Confirmation Retreat
On Saturday 1st April, I attended the first evening of the Confirmation Retreat Weekend held in Newtown School Waterford. It was so good to see 75 young people there, as well as the leaders both lay and clergy, explore the theme of prayer in the evening session I attended. It also gave me an opportunity to meet some of those being confirmed in the coming months in this relaxed setting. The weekend involved a variety of fun activities, sport, workshops, and worship. We are blessed in this Diocese to have Canon Nicola Halford to head up so many of our youth initiatives, supported enthusiastically by a team of volunteers and youth council members. Equally important is the work of religious education done through schools. I have a pile of essays waiting on my desk to be corrected for the Senior Bishop’s Medal Competition and I know many entries for the Poster Competition have been delivered to the Diocesan Office. Again, we are grateful to all those involved in this important aspect of religious education in the Diocese. All this work is about sowing seeds, encouraging children and young people to explore their faith more deeply, and providing them with the right environment to flourish and know that they are loved by God.
General Synod on 12th and 13th May in Wexford
Later this month, the Church of Ireland General Synod will meet in White’s Hotel in Wexford on Friday 12th and Saturday 13th May. Business will be completed online the following week as required. This is the second time the General Synod has come to Cashel, Ferns and Ossory, the last time being in 2007 when it gathered in Kilkenny. I wish to thank the Rector of Wexford and Kilscoran Union, the Revd Norman McCausland, for all the practical help he has provided in putting some local arrangements in place. He will be acting as chaplain to the General Synod this year and will be leading our opening devotions each morning. We are also fortunate that one of the Honorary Secretaries of the General Synod is our own Hazel Corrigan and I thank her for all the assistance she has provided in recent months. We hope that Synod this year will be a positive and productive meeting, and that the ‘sunny south-east’ will live up to its reputation to show Wexford town and the surrounding countryside to best effect.
There have been some positive developments in recent weeks regarding recruitment. As you will have seen in last month’s magazine, Shane Reynolds has been providing services to the Diocese in the area of communications and social media. Our Diocesan Facebook page is very busy, and the Diocesan Website is also receiving attention, thanks to his input. We are very fortunate to have just recruited two new part-time members of staff for the Diocesan Office*, more about this in next month’s Diocesan Magazine (see below). These posts are being filled from existing or reallocated budgets and are essential as we support the clergy, parishes, schools and all those engaged in ministry across the Diocese.
Appointment of The Reverend Paul Fitzpatrick
I am also delighted to announce the appointment of the Revd Paul Fitzpatrick as the new Rector of Carlow Union. He is currently the Dean’s Vicar within the Nenagh Union and Killaloe Group of Parishes in the Diocese of Tuam, Limerick and Killaloe. His institution will take place in July when we will have the opportunity to welcome him, his wife Betty and daughter Maebh to Carlow. I am also grateful to the Revd Máirt Hanley and the Revd Trevor Sargent who have recently been appointed rural deans in the Diocese.
Prayer for confirmands
Finally, I very much look forward to being in a variety of parishes in the coming months for Confirmation Services. No doubt many readers will know that Easter is not just one day in the church calendar, but a season lasting 50 days. It is often seen as a very appropriate time for confirmations. I pray that as I meet confirmands in the coming weeks, as well as their parents, godparents, families and friends, it will be a time of encouragement and growth for all, in terms of their faith and discipleship. May the seeds sown in the past continue to flower and bear fruit today and long into the future.
With every good wish and blessing in these 50 days of Easter,
*Announcements have since been made:
Assistant Diocesan Secretary
Rebecca Williams Phelan
Safeguarding & Compliance Administrator
A warm welcome to both.