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Diocese of Cashel, Ferns and Ossory

Bishop’s September 2021 Letter

Dear Friends



We are in full colour! The attractiveness of the ‘new look’ of the Diocesan Magazine speaks for itself. Much gratitude is due to the energy and vision of our editor, Margaret Hawkins, who has made this happen … supported by our Magazine and Media committee which is chaired by the Reverend Trevor Sargent. And I would like to acknowledge, too, the cooperation and kindness of our excellent printer, Joe Hogan in Enniscorthy.

COVID has made us think a lot about our communications strategy, online and otherwise. We have reviewed everything from streamed worship to actual church notice boards. And we have realised anew the enduring value of printed material such as this magazine … which is read by so many people (dare I say, perhaps a little provocatively, by far more individuals than actually buy it?!!) and which also provides a chronicle of diocesan life which will endure for the future. However, the printed magazine must reflect the freshness and quality and modernity which we would expect of other aspects of our communications network. We often stress the importance of vibrant websites and other online platforms; but our hard copy material must also be vibrant, colourful and attractive. We hope this new look will encourage many to be interested in our life and mission as a diocese and will ensure that for many years to come printed material remains very much part of our communications output. So,                                                                                              enjoy this issue and its successors, admire its subtlety of design and range of content and (as they say) tell all your friends!!

Confirmation circuit planned

As I write in early August, there has been ongoing media discussion, not always of the most seemly or empathetic type, about Covid restrictions and their application not least to Confirmations. I had always felt within myself that the last quarter of the year was likely to provide the most workable context for a round of Confirmations across the diocese, and I hope this will prove to be the case as (I trust) students return safely to school and restrictions continue to ease gradually. We cannot entirely predict how things will go in terms particularly of maximum attendance at such events, but that said I have planned a fairly elaborate confirmation circuit of the diocese between October 9 and December 12. In some locations it may be necessary to have more than one service in order to accommodate the necessary numbers. I wish the candidates well in their preparation and admire the imaginative efforts on the part of many clergy to ensure this is being done safely, yet also joyfully and thoroughly. I cannot but be bemused at many of the assumptions that seem to surround Confirmations in the eyes of some in the ‘outside’ world… that such ceremonies are inevitably followed by lavish and irresponsible partying, or that the ‘religious’ side of the matter is really rather unimportant to many. I am sufficient of a realist to know that we live in a very secular society that can have a very jaundiced view of what are regarded as traditional ‘rites of passage’. However, having at this stage taken a huge number of Confirmations, I have never once taken such a service where I encountered attitudes that were wilfully disrespectful or inappropriate: I have enjoyed every single such ceremony and never on any occasion found them devoid of true holiness. Sometimes these things need to be said, and the Holy Spirit never fails at such times to move among us in her own mysterious way. Furthermore, while for most candidates Confirmation happens at a particular time in their youth and education, this is by no means invariably the case. Each year I confirm a significant number of adults, and their presence is often a significant witness to the younger people concerning the serious weightiness yet also the joy of the commitment that is being made.

Ordination of Mr Ciarán Kavanagh

While on the matter of weighty commitment… On the evening of Sunday September 12 in St Iberius’ Wexford, Mr Ciaran Kavanagh will be made deacon to serve in the context of Ordained Local Ministry in that part of the diocese. Ciaran joins our growing team of valued and talented OLMs, bringing with him many skills whether from his background in the Defence Forces, or as a School Principal, or as an experienced Diocesan Reader. It remains highly likely that numbers attending this ordination will have to be strictly limited, but many will want to be alongside Ciarán in spirit that evening.

Welcoming Bishop-elect Gerard Nash to Ferns

Finally, and looking beyond ourselves. The diocese of Ferns has had a particularly long and pioneering role in matters ecumenical …one thinks of shared work between the churches in the area of local radio, or the ground-breaking inter-episcopal agreements / mutual understandings concerning inter-church family life back in the days of Bishop Willoughby. This positive tradition has continued throughout the fifteen-year episcopate in the Roman Catholic context of Bishop Denis Brennan, whom we now wish well in his retirement. His successor Bishop-elect Gerard Nash, who comes to Wexford from Co Clare, will be ordained in Enniscorthy on Sunday 5 September. Sadly, Covid restrictions mean that I cannot be physically present but I have sent a message of warm greetings to be read out at the service on behalf of the Church of Ireland.

Michael Cashel Ferns and Ossory