The Mothers’ Union Festival Service
Diocese of Cashel, Ferns and Ossory
‘Sowing the Future together’
St Michael and All Angels’ Church Abbeyleix
Sunday 7th September 2014
The sun shone as if it were the height of summer, all of which brought out the brightly coloured dresses of the ladies of the Mothers’ Union as they filled the large church in Abbeyleix. Not to forget the sprinkling of gentlemen among the congregation!
The Service was taking place at a different time of year and in a slightly different format, it was conducted by the Bishop assisted by the rector the Revd Canon Patrick Harvey.
The Preacher was the Mothers’ Union All-Ireland President Mrs Phyllis Grothier and the singing was led by the organist Mrs Phyllis Clegg.
Through the opening hymn of ‘All things bright and beautiful’ the procession of banners made its way up the aisle to the Chancel after which the service was introduced by the Bishop and the Rector.
Bishop Michael spoke of this being the occasion following the funeral of Maureen Lanigan that had taken place the day before in Kilkenny and to which many of the same members of the Mothers’ Union now in front of him for this service, had been in St Canice’s Cathedral the day before.
He recalled that the last time everyone had gathered similarly was in the Spring of last year in Inistioge when Maureen had been commissioned as Mothers’ Union Diocesan President. He paid tribute to those who had kept the Mothers’ Union in the Diocese functioning and thriving and at the same time ensuring that Maureen felt that she was still in office.
When the Bishop talked to her only a few days ago, Maureen talked emphatically in the future tense and that this service would happen this weekend come what may.
And so, said the Bishop, we continue to hold Maureen in love before God as we chart the way forward and before the service commenced, what was properly a joyful occasion, he asked the congregation to keep silence and cherish particular memories.
The Bishop reminded the congregation that this was the eve of one of the days of Mary in the calendar and with the Mothers’ Union so concerned for the motherhood of Mary and all motherhood by derivation, this then is the observance of the eve of the feast of the birth of Mary. He elaborated a little more coming to the conclusion that the liturgical calendar is much neater than life and that liturgy is all about trying to encapsulate something that is neat and beautiful.
At this point the rector, the Revd Canon Patrick Harvey formally welcomed everyone and said what a privilege it was to be hosting this year’s Diocesan Mothers’ Union Festival service here in St Michael and All Angels’ Church in Abbeyleix and invited everyone to partake of refreshments in the South National School just ‘over the hedge’ nearby!
Service of the Word
The lessons were read by Ms Aubrey Hastings and the Revd Margaret Sykes and the Gospel was read by Mrs Pat Costain, the Mothers’ Union President, Isle of Man.
Address – Click on next line to open full account of Phyllis Grothier address
There then followed the commissioning of the Public Relations’ Officer, Ms Vivien Black.
The Intercessions were led by the Unit-Coordinators Ms Phyllis Foot (Action and Outreach), Ms Frances Bradley (Finance and Central Services), Ms Lilia Harper (Marketing), Ms Vivien Black (P.R.O.), and the Revd Margaret Sykes (Faith and Policy).
Through the preliminaries of the celebration of the Passover-style family Eucharist there was prayer which included dialogue between the Rector and Ms Alice Twist.
At the conclusion of the service, Vice-President Janet Crampton spoke and offered acknowledgements to all those who had been in the preparation of the service and the hospitality.
She thanked the rector for being so welcoming and also the local branch of the MU for all their preparation. She thanked the Bishop for his support over the past few days and Phyllis Grothier for her thought-provoking and inspirational address. She thanked the visitors who had come from the Isle of Man and also for the members of the clergy who had given up their Sunday afternoon to be present. She thanked everyone for coming and that it was a good sign of the numbers that the ‘order of service’ sheets had run out. She thanked the organist for standing in at the last moment.
She also thanked the Kilkenny Branch for all the work and preparation that was involved for the funeral of Maureen the previous day.
To conclude the banners were paraded out of the church and into the evening sunlight and all made their way to the adjacent national school for refreshments and fellowship.