As I write these notes I am preparing to attend a meeting of the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM). It is being held between 22 and 29 January. The first few days we are based in Rome and then we move to Canterbury.
The delegates are bishops from around the world and it is customary for those countries or provinces involved to send both a Roman Catholic bishop and an Anglican bishop. Bishop Niall Coll (Bishop of Ossory) and myself will be travelling together. While I have met him on a number of occasions over the past year, I look forward to working more closely with him on this and other projects in the future.
This time the meeting of IARCCUM coincides with the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. I am aware of a number of local ecumenical services, events and initiatives from around the diocese which happen in and around this week each year. However, these are but a reflection of the close relations and inter-church activity that are manifest in many parishes throughout the year. The benchmark for ecumenism is that churches should do nothing separately which they could do together.
There will inevitably be times when we don’t agree on all matters of doctrine and place the emphasis differently on issues of faith and practice, however that should never prevent us from sharing in as much as possible together.
I hope my attendance at IARCCUM will help me to foster valuable links with the approximately 50 other bishops who will be attending and provide me with useful material to reflect upon as I continue my ministry in this Diocese. Last month Bishop William Lee, the former Roman Catholic Bishop of Waterford and Lismore, died. The day his death was announced I contacted his successor Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan and issued a statement extending my sympathy, and that of the Diocese of Cashel, Ferns and Ossory to the clergy and people of Waterford and Lismore. In this statement I emphasised that ‘Bishop Lee worked closely with my predecessors in a spirit of ecumenism. I know he will be missed by all those who held him in high regard and are grateful for his ministry’.
February will be a busy month. I look forward to hosting a ‘Quiet Morning and Lunch’ for the retired clergy and their spouses. It will be held in Kilkenny on Friday 2 February which is Candlemas. On this day, 40 days after Christmas, we recall the ministry of Simeon and Anna, two older people who recognised the infant Jesus when he was brought to the Temple by his parents. Simeon and Anna, from a mature perspective of faith as Jews, could see something in this ‘Holy Child’ to which others were oblivious or were just too busy to notice. We give thanks to God for those who continue to contribute to the life of the church and the wider community from the perspective of retirement. The leader of the short quiet morning will be Canon Lesley Robinson, currently Rector of Clontarf in the Diocese of Dublin. This event affords me the opportunity to thank the retired clergy and their families for all they have done or continue to do in ministry and service. We are blessed by their fellowship.
On Sunday 4 February four new Diocesan Readers will be licensed and commissioned at a special service in St Laserian’s Cathedral in Old Leighlin. They are Rosemary Brown, Stephen Doak, Claire Forde and Paul Hanson. I am delighted that they have completed their training under Dean Tom Gordon and have the support of their rectors and parishes as they take this next step in their ministry. I hope that many of their friends and fellow parishioners will make an effort to attend what will be an inspiring service of commissioning in the context of a Candlemas Service in the Cathedral that day.
Finally, I take this opportunity to congratulate Canon Máirt Hanley on his recent appointment as Prebendary of Aghour and Canon Victor Fitzpatrick on his appointment as Prebendary of Killamery, both on the Chapter of St Canice’s Cathedral in Kilkenny.
I also congratulate Dean Stephen Farrell on his recent appointment as Prebendary of Monmohenock on the Chapter of St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin. It is one of the personal canonries and he will join Canon Patrick Harvey who is the representative canon from Cashel, Ferns and Ossory on the Chapter of our national cathedral.
Lay ministry, ordained ministry, retired ministry, ecumenical ministry; there is much to give thanks for as we look forward with confidence and hope.
2024 JUNIOR BISHOP’S MEDAL COMPETITION
This competition is open to Church of Ireland pupils in sixth class in any National School in the United Diocese of Cashel, Ferns & Ossory.
Candidates will sit the exam, a religious education paper, in Kilkenny College.
First prize – €150 plus the 2024 Junior Bishop’s Medal
Second prize – €100
Third – €50
This year the exam will take place on Thursday 7th March.
Application forms may be had from the sixth class teacher in your school or, if the candidate is not attending a Church of Ireland National School, from Canon Patrick Harvey – 086 8436786 / email@example.com.
Deadline for applications is 29th February 2024