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Diocese of Cashel, Ferns and Ossory

The Revd Alec Purser settles into ministry in Stradbally (Laois)





THE REVEREND ALEC PURSER (part-time Priest-in-Charge)


5th December, 2014


The Revd Alec Purser pictured with the Bishop following his service of introduction as part-time priest-in-charge to the Union of Stradbally parishes, Co. Laois, on Friday 5th December 2014.



The Advent Candles

God’s People of Stradbally Union and the wider community gathered in St Patrick’s Church, Stradbally to witness the introduction of the Revd Alec Purser to the parish and to welcome him formally.  He was already well known having acted as priest-in-charge during the vacancy. The Procession was heralded by the hymn ‘On Jordan’s bank the Baptist cry’…  and the Bishop welcomed everyone and then led the service.

The Archdeacon, the Ven. Andrew Orr presented the Revd Alec to be introduced by the Bishop who commended the prayers of the congregation and silence was kept.

The lessons were red by Yvonne Carter and Emma Purser and the Gospel by the Revd Canon Patrick Harvey.

The Sermon was given by the Revd Canon Patrick Harvey, Incumbent of Abbeyleix and Killermogh Union of Parishes, Diocese of Leighlin.


Picking up Life’s Truth singly – the address

Canon Harvey referenced many things. Amongst them were … Psalm 19; an Epiphany image on the cover of the Abbeyleix & Killermogh December Parish Magazine – three people looking up into the sky at a vast comet, which he feared might draw the ire of the Church police. But are they the Magi?

The readings at the service were from the readings of the day – something about the forest, waiting patiently, about being a Christian, and a difficult Gospel passage to remind us that it’s His story, not ours. The Canon told a story of a young clergyman frustrated with Church rules who eventually became Rector in Abbeyleix. He listed many of the firsts Alec experienced in the Abbeyleix & Killermogh Union – a service of healing in Ballyroan, his first Abbeyleix Senior Citizens’ Party, his first celebration of Holy Communion One, first baptism and first harvest amongst many others. A paraphrased Talking Heads song ‘Once in a lifetime’ … how did I get to be in the challenging position of an ordained clergyman in the twenty first century? ‘And you may find yourself in a beautiful church … ‘.

He quoted the ordinal – priests are ‘to search for God’s children in the wilderness of this world’s temptations and to guide them through its confusions, so that they may be saved through Christ for ever’. The sense of the ordinary in Patrick Kavanagh’s poetry. A story about cutting the next day’s communion bread in a suit, a white shirt and a yellow polka dot bow tie. Heaven as perpetual Advent. Thy kingdom come.

The Canon thanked Mr Purser for his much appreciated and much missed ministry in the Abbeyleix & Killermogh Union of Parishes, and said how he envied him his fierce & passionate concern for the poor, the hungry, the outcast and the underprivileged. He wished him, Gill, Emma & Sam well in their new place.


Introduction to a ‘new’ congregation

The bishop introduced Alec to the congregation and commending his ministry and asking him  to entrust to him now a share in the care of God’s people here and invited him to serve as Priest-in-Charge of this parish.

The bishop and Alec as priest-in-charge stood and faced the people as the bishop presented Alec to the congregation as priest and pastor asking them to support and encourage him in his ministry, praying for him as he will pray for them to which they agreed and they welcomed him with enthusiastic applause.


The ‘Charge’

Then followed the ‘Charge’ to the congregation to be called to witness to the love of Christ and to serve others in the name of Christ. This is shown by presenting symbols of the teaching, pastoral and sacramental ministry of a priest by members of the congregation.

Ann Walsh Kemmis brought a bible from the pulpit; William Kerr presented a container of water from the font; Ian Meredith brought a copy of the Book of Common Prayer from the Prayer Desk; Gavin Stanley brought forward bread and wine; Ruth Wilkinson presented a vial of oil; Sharon Bradley presented a towel representing the washing of feet; and the Very Revd Tom Gordon presented copies of the Diocesan Directory and finally Lesley Colton as churchwarden brought forward the key of the church, which the Bishop remarked, hoped to keep the church open rather than locked. The Prayers of the People were led by the Revd Alec and he then announced the services for the Union for the following Sunday.

Refreshments were offered in the Parish Hall afterwards.


Who’s in Charge?!

Priest-in-Charge the Revd Alec Purser flanked by Bishops Michael Burrows and Walton Empey.