The Very Reverend James Mulhall was installed as Dean of Cashel and instituted Rector of Cashel Union of Parishes at a special service in the Cathedral Church of St John the Baptist and St Patrick’s Rock, Cashel, on Sunday night, 13th February 2022 at 7 p.m.
The new dean is from a farming background in County Laois and, most recently, was Priest-in-Charge of Kells Union of Parishes with Inistioge as well as Children’s Ministry Officer and Safeguarding Trust officer in the Diocese of Cashel, Ferns & Ossory.
A qualified social worker he came to the Church of Ireland in 2001 having been ordained a priest in the Roman Catholic church in 1987. James succeeds the Very Reverend Gerald Field who retired in August 2021.
Introducing and welcoming James the Right Reverend Michael Burrows said that the occasion was special not just because of the historic context.
“(That’s) because we are celebrating the evolving ministry of someone already well known to us, who has been an invaluable member of our diocesan clerical family for many years and whose gifts and contribution are now being recognised through joining the ranks of our deans,” he said.
The preacher at the service was the Reverend David White, Rector of Carlow Union of Parishes and he spoke on the Gospel theme of the healer.
“When we don’t take responsibility for ourselves, when we are not in touch with ourselves, we get lost by thinking that everyone else is the problem,” he said. “The reality is that nobody escapes being wounded. We all are wounded people, whether physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually. The question is not ‘How can we hide our wounds?’ so we don’t have to be embarrassed, but instead ‘How can we put our woundedness in the service of others?’ When our wounds cease to be a source of shame, and become a source of healing, we have become wounded healers.”
After mentioning James’ distinctive laugh that comes from ‘a life tempered by experience’ he went on to say that Cashel union will have a dean and rector who understands them.
“Most of all, you will find that James will be interested in you,” he said. “When you look back over his life, all his choices have led him into peoples’ lives and not just the easy parts of peoples’ lives. As social worker, counsellor, safeguarding officer, priest he has proved himself to be warm, astute, purposeful and kind. I say ‘kind’ because I think this is one of the most important attributes of a priest.”
Father Enda Brady, speaking on behalf of the ecumenical community in Cashel, welcomed Dean James to Cashel and said that he was very much looking forward to working with him in the future.
Councillor Michael Fitzgerald, on behalf of the people of Tipperary and the other dignitaries present, wished Dean Mulhall every success in his new role and presented him with the gift of a Tipperary Clock.
The new Dean was welcomed, very warmly, on behalf of Cashel Union parishioners, by Eddie Hobson, Cashel churchwarden. Cashel Union of Parishes includes the Cathedral Church, St Mary’s in Tipperary, St Mary’s in Ballintemple (Dundrum), St Sedna’s in Clonbegh, Aherlow and Mogorban Church.
“You are coming to us with an abundance of pastoral experience and wisdom,” Eddie said, “and we are delighted to have you joining us here. We wish you every success in your new appointment and look forward to the continuing of God’s ministry in Cashel,” he said.
Speaking at the end of the service Dean James thanked everyone for their kind words and all those involved in organising the service so splendidly and said that he was humbled by the appointment as Dean & Rector of Cashel.
“Being a priest is all I ever wanted to be from the age of nine or ten. I love being a priest. I remember, clearly, a poster from my days in Carlow College:
Don’t walk ahead of me, I may not follow
Don’t walk behind me, I may not go
Walk with me and we will walk together.
This to me is the heart of ministry and discipleship. I look forward to meeting and getting to know the people of Cashel parish and they in turn getting to know me where, with the build up of mutual trust, new horizons beckon us in the service of each other where God is already present.”
Lessons at the service were read by Louis Clifton Brown and Christine Martindale and symbols were presented by people representing parish, colleagues and community.
The organist was Marion Thompson and chosen hymns, led by the parish choir, included Praise my soul, the King of Heaven and Forth in the peace of Christ we go. Refreshments were served after the service.
Photo credit: Laura Fryday
With thanks also to Linda Harris