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Diocese of Cashel, Ferns and Ossory

Diocesan Synod 2020 report

Synod 2020 screenshot 1


The Synod of the Church of Ireland Diocese of Cashel, Ferns & Ossory was held online on Saturday, 28th November last.

Opening the event with prayer Bishop Michael Burrows then mentioned that this synod was a unique occasion, taking place online because of Covid-19 related restrictions but he hoped that it would be an enjoyable and fascinating occasion for all involved.

Tributes were paid to those synod members who had died during the year and a guest of Synod, the Reverend Susan Gallagher, from the Methodist Church in Carlow was welcomed.

In his audio-visual Presidential Address he spoke of three things of value that have helped him find the language of this Advent immediate. Firstly, with Advent being ‘all about crisis’ it is at times like these that we know what our faith is worth.

“We have proved the worth of our faith and worship by the extraordinary imagination, energy, resilience and creativity with which we have transferred things online, with which we have reconnected with people in new ways and in which pastoral mission has never ceased,” he said.

Secondly, he spoke of the over-dependence on church buildings in the Church of Ireland and of how ‘this particular experience (the pandemic) has, whether we like it or not, given us a trial run and an instructive experience in how we do without the great buildings.’

Thirdly he drew attention to how, this Advent, we have a ‘new sense of last things.’

“We have been so reminded of the frailty of human nature,” he continued, while also pointing out that in times of crisis we turn to a merciful God and that in spite of the impact of the pandemic, somehow, out of trial, ‘faith comes out the better, leaner and more authentic.’

Proposing the adoption of the Report of Diocesan Council came next.

The Reverend David White, in a wide-ranging speech, spoke of ‘the slow work of God’ saying that the pandemic has given us much to ponder. He particularly mentioned the natural world and how it is failing and of how our ‘challenge is to act now and put it right’. He focussed also on the positives, however, how less traffic has led to less pollution of water courses and increased plant and animal life.

He also highlighted the work of the Diocesan Review Commission set up to consider the areas of success and concern in our Diocese and homed in on the term ‘strategic planning’, saying that the word ‘strategic’ is about being open to the working of the Spirit.

He also mentioned Ordained Local Ministry and ordinations related to this volunteer ministry that have taken place, and are to take place in this diocese.

He also paid tribute to retiring Diocesan Secretary, Denise Hughes, as did Margaret Jacob who seconded the report.

The report was passed.

Education came next on the agenda and the first contribution was by Alex Morahan, chaplain to Kilkenny College who listed activities in the college, spoke of supports that students are getting and thanked teachers and staff. He also said that ‘Panda Mic’ (the pandemic, as he spoke of it to students) would be sent packing by 2021.

Dean Tom Gordon who is stepping back from his role in Adult Education after ten years’ contribution, reflected on the quote by Einstein that ‘education is what’s left after you’ve forgotten what you’ve learned’.

Carolyn Good, principal of Carrigduff N.S. Bunclody, highlighted five positives that she found in the midst of the challenge of teaching since the March lockdown including a greater emphasis on well-being, more autonomy for teachers, shared leadership, values being highlighted more and creativity becoming so evident.

Canon James Mulhall then brought synod up to date about children’s ministry matters and Safeguarding Trust pointing out that training would recommence in 2021 and that the triennial evaluations are due to happen then too.  The SGT Diocesan Risk Assessment Statement will be ready by the end of January, he said also.

Canon Patrick Harvey, continuing the topic of education, told Synod that the Senior Bishop’s Medal exam had taken place in spite of internet challenges and he thanked the Reverend Trevor Sargent for judging the entries.

All reports were passed.

A tribute to Denise Hughes was next on the agenda. Bishop Burrows said that words cannot adequately express the diocese’s gratitude for her long and faithful service. Denise was presented with a silver pendant featuring an amethyst, flowers, a hamper of locally produced items and told of a cheque to come, courtesy of contributions from parishioners and well-wishers. The synod was also told that a bench in the grounds would be dedicated to her.

The second last item on the agenda was the extension to the time the Diocesan Review Commission has to work, given Covid-related delays in visiting parishes. This motion was passed also.

Diocesan Communications Officer and Editor of the Diocesan Magazine, Margaret Hawkins then gave an overview of how the diocese had risen admirably to the challenge of online services and thanked everyone for their support for the Magazine.

After closing words by the Bishop the Synod ended with prayer.

Note: The Synod video will be uploaded to the Diocesan website at a later date.