Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh Diocesan Synod 2018

‘That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me’. John 17:21


The Annual Meeting of the Diocesan Synod of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh took place this Saturday 3rd October in Carrick-on-Shannon, Co. Leitrim. The day’s proceedings began with a celebration of Holy Communion in St George’s Church. Preaching from John chapter 17, Archdeacon Isaac Hanna reminded us of Christ’s prayer for unity among believers. He challenged as to pull together as a team with the common purpose of the gospel. The business of the Synod followed shortly after the Service in the nearby Bush hotel.


Bishop Ferran Glenfield was unable to attend this year’s Diocesan Synod as he is recovering from hip surgery. Archdeacon Craig McCauley stood in as Bishop’s Commissary for the day. Nevertheless, Bishop Glenfield gave his address by way of video link. In his address, Bishop Ferran drew attention to a Motion to allow the Ballisodare Group of Parishes in Co. Sligo to transfer from the Tuam, Kilalla and Achonry Diocese to Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh. The Motion had been passed at the recent TKA Diocesan Synod and Bishop Glenfield appealed for members of our own Synod to back the proposed change.


At the 2017 Diocesan Synod, Bishop Glenfield had informed the members of his intention to conduct a parish visitation in the following year. During his address he gave a progress report on these visits. Some 80% of parishes have been visited so far. During these visits the Bishop had visited National schools, Secondary and Third level institutes, hospitals and nursing homes, businesses and commercial premises and those who were house bound. He attended worship services in each group and chaired a joint Vestry meeting undertaking a SWOT analysis as people discussed the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats their parishes faced. After a short while Bishop Ferran shared his findings with the Rector, who in turn used it as a springboard for discussion in the parish group.


What did the Bishop discover in the visitation exercise?


Strengths : words such as small, resilient, committed, alive and energized and phrases such as we work well together, capable people, well maintained buildings and inspirational leaders were repeated across the Diocese.

It is clear that the 20/20 Vision focused on the local church being resourced for ministry and mission and local people being empowered is taking shape on the ground. Perhaps one indicator of this strength is that the Diocese has a full compliment of clergy, which is a remarkable achievement and reflects the hard and unseen work going on to commend rural ministry in a Border, Midland West context. Moreover, the Diocese continues to encourage people to go forward to ordained ministry, five this year; alongside preparing and training people for lay ministry, youth ministry and evangelism.


Weaknesses: people were candid in identifying perceived weaknesses – small numbers, ageing congregations, lost generation groups, competition on Sundays, rural depopulation and fatigue. In particular there was a deep sense of unease that small parishes were being squeezed by government agencies with regard to Charity Regulation, Data Protection and Adult Safeguarding. People thought it unreasonable to expect small volunteer trustee bodies like Select Vestries to comply in the same way as large companies and charities who have the resources to process compliance.

Opportunities: Most if not all parish groups highlighted two key areas of opportunities:

Connecting with the wider community: Great strides have been made by our parishes to be visible and active in their local communities through a variety of ways. In using the Harvest and Christmas Seasons to invite people to worship. In promoting community events, in engaging in local heritage and environmental projects. In being active in farming circles, in working with men, children and adults with Special Needs and being creative in outreach to tourists. One has only to browse through The Scribe, the monthly Diocesan Magazine to see the spectrum of connections parishes are making in the community.


Prioritizing children and young people: Another opportunity recognized by people was the growing work among children and young people. Local churches were serious about passing on the faith to successive generations. Across the Diocese Sunday Schools were active in most groups. Messy Church experiments were proliferating and seasonal Bible clubs were a feature in a lot of places. Uniformed organizations GFS, GB, BB and Guides were well represented. In addition, up to 16 regular youth groups were up and running. The Diocese had a full compliment of gifted and dedicated children’s and youth coordinators based in Cavan, Longford and Sligo.


Threats: Concerns about the future fell into two categories: External and Internal threats.

External treats revolved around Brexit and the uncertainty it was bringing to Border areas. Also there was a sense of threat arising from a changing Ireland in which the church is unfairly seen not as a force for good, but a source of harm.

Internal threats were identified as indifference and unfaithfulness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Both external and internal threats were seen as real and potentially damaging to the future of our churches and to the Church of Ireland as a whole. Nonetheless, Bishop Ferran detected a quiet confidence and resilience across the Diocese not simply to survive but to thrive. GK Chesterton once commented “ At least five times in history the faith has to all appearances gone to the dogs. In each case it was the dog that died”!


Bishop Ferran concluded that KEA is a small diocese in a hidden and often neglected part of Ireland. It is often the way of God to begin his work in obscure places among small people. The Bishop asked people to see things for what they are.Itis a time of declension for Christianity in Ireland an at such a time we need to hold our nerve. That requires conviction, courage and commitment. God is at work despite general appearances. His work is there for all who see with the eye of faith. And if God is with us, who can stand against us?


Following the Presidential address, the Synod heard greetings from Fr. Turlough Baxter on behalf of the Roman Catholic Church. The Motion to allow the transfer of the Ballisodare Group of Parishes was then proposed by Deborah Davitt who extended a warm welcome to the Ballisodare group. It was seconded by the Ven. Isaac Hanna and passed by the KEA Synod. The Motion will now go before General Synod in 2019 before returning to both Synods next year. The Synod also had the opportunity to hear presentations from Bishop’s Appeal, The Scribe and the Mother’s Union. Damian Shorten and Hannah O’Neill, our Diocesan Youth and Children’s Co-ordinators have an inspiring and challenging report on the work of YKEA (our Diocesan Youth Council) over the past year.


The 2018 Diocesan Reports presented to synod can be found here.

Institution of Revd Alastair Donaldson as Rector of the Kinawley & Holy Trinity Group of Parishes

Last Tuesday evening, 10th October, Revd. Alastair Donaldson was instituted as Rector of the Kinawley& Holy Trinity Group of Parishes – Derrylin, Crom, Drumany (Chapel of Ease). Family, friends, parishioners as well as representatives of the local community and wider Diocese gathered for worship at Kinawley, Parish Church in Derrylin, to welcome Revd. Alastair as the new Incumbent. In the absence of Bishop Ferran Glenfield, who is recovering from surgery, Bishop’s Commissary, the Ven. Craig McCauley led proceeding assisted by Canon Hazel Hicks. The Very Revd. Arfon Williams, Dean of St. John’s Cathedral, Sligo, was in attendance as Registrar. Originally a native of Crossmaglen, Co. Armagh, Revd. Alastair has been serving in the Kinawley Group since January 2018 as Curate to the Bishop. Before that he served as Curate in the Roscommon Group.

The address at the institution was given by Mr Mathew Topley. Speaking from 2 Timothy 4:1-8, Matthew highlighted the charge given by Paul to Timothy to patiently, carefully and faithfully ‘preach the Word’ in all seasons. Matthew spoke about the challenge ministers of God’s Word face when people do not want to listen to God’s truth, but would rather find teachers who will tell them what they want to hear. Finally, Matthew encouraged Alastair and the congregation to follow Christ faithfully, reminding them that, though there will challenges, sharing the good news of Jesus Christ in word and deed will be worth it, because there will be a ‘crown of righteousness’ waiting on the last day to all faithful followers of Christ.

The Act of Institution was then carried out by Archdeacon Craig, after which words of welcome were given by Mr John Rutledge on behalf of the Group of Parishes, Revd. Stephen Foster on behalf of Florencecourt Methodist Church, and Revd. Tanya Woods on behalf of the Diocese.

During the service a token of appreciation was given to Revd. Tanya Woods for looking after the parishes during the vacancy. There was an acknowledgement made to the retired clergy and lay readers who led services and encouraged the congregationsduring the vacancy.  Gifts of welcome were given to Revd. Alastair, his wife Elise and their little boy, Josiah.

The service was followed by a sumptuous and welcome tea in the Church Hall. We pray for the Lord’s blessing on Revd. Alastair, Elise, Josiah and the people of the Kinawley and Holy Trinity Group as they continue to journey together with God and for God.


The Ven. Craig McCauley, Canon Hazel Hicks, Revd. Alastair Donaldson and Mr. Matthew Topley.

Schools’ Services of Harvest Thanksgiving

Blessed are the pure in heart!

This week yKEA hosted two Schools’ Services of Harvest Thanksgiving. The first took place in Kilmore Cathedral and was attended by 450 pupils from national schools across the Diocese. The second service took place in Sligo Cathedral and was attended by more than 200 school children from the Dioceses of Elphin and Ardagh.

The yKEA team were joined by members of Crown Jesus Ministries for a service of songs, stories and puppets! In a riotous, musical performance, Crown Jesus ministries reminded us that we are to be people who are filled with humility and unselfish people who are pure in heart. A big challenge for Harvest time but a wonderful challenge as we remembered God’s love and goodness to us!

St Catherine’s Church, Fenagh Restoration Project

St Catherine’s Church of Ireland, Fenagh, County Leitrim has been nominated for a special award by the National Lottery in the Heritage category for the Connaught region. We are going to make our presentation to the committee on 8th October in Athlone, and will attend the awards ceremony in the Burlington Hotel and to be shown live on TV3 on 3rd November. Many thanks to the National Lottery, Beresford and AllChurches Trusts, our sponsors for the Dream Auction held in 2016, RCB, the committee and the community of Fenagh and surrounding area. Without all your assistance we would not have achieved as much as we have.


The Church was completed in 1790 but the first record is of a Daniel Nellye, vicar of Fenagh in 1615. The Church was featured on the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs National Inventory of Architectural Heritage (NIAH) website for the month of May (many thanks to Damian Murphy, Architectural Heritage Officer), when we had a re-dedication service in 2017. At the same time, a memorial plaque to General Primrose was also dedicated. We have also featured in the September/October 2017 issue of the History Ireland publication and our photo was used by the National Lottery on their country-wide poster.


So how did our small project achieve so much? We started out with building on the original project in 1988 which saw the local community and FAS save the Church. This had declined to the point that trees in the grounds were used for the roof. Because a lot of knowledge had been lost along the way, the hyper-course system used to heat the Church had become blocked and this led to the rotting of the wooden floor which collapsed during a wedding in the 1990’s.


The building was only occasionally visited until 2015, when I visited the Church to see the stained glass windows. The Churchwarden, John Moran approached Rev’d Linda Frost for permission to apply for a grant to replace the floor with the assistance of National Lottery funding. This was the only way we could achieve the repairs. Since then, we have obtained funding through the Structures at Risk and Built Heritage Infrastructure grants, Beresford and AllChurches Trusts to have all the stained glass windows repaired and restored, some of which had been vandalised. The entrance pillars, roof, gutters, and the Vestry ceiling have all been repaired, together with lime plastering internally. The wooden windows, some with their original 1880 glass have been repaired and painted. Finally this year we have painted the Church internally.


We would never have been able to undertake all of this work without the financial grants and assistance we received. However, we could never have achieved what we have without the wonderful support and hard work of our committee, but most of all, the community of Fenagh and surrounding area who have supported our fund-raising events. We are very grateful for the support of the local Catholic Church in helping us to put on fund-raising events and lending of church items. This includes the fund-raising event on 25th October 2018 featuring the Garda Band.


We would like to give recognition to the 500 odd other projects in the National Lottery category that did not make it. Every project is unique and special. Our project started off by trying to save a building from joining the other ancient ruins in the village of ring forts, dolmens and Abbey’s. It turned into being a project of bridge-building between denominations. We started with small footsteps but hope to have lasting footprints. We wanted to save a building declining to a space available for future generations. We started out being about saving a Church building, but we have ended up being about inclusion and building connections within the community.


Of course, like all Churches, we have our ‘stories’. There is the one about General James Primrose, (1819-92) husband of Elizabeth de la Poer Beresford, daughter of the Clergy based at Fenagh. Quite unknown to us, his great grand daughter Mrs Sue Tyser and another relative, Caroline Jones, decided that it was time to find out what the General’s papers, which had been left to Sue, actually contained. They contacted Dr Caroline Jackson, an Oxford Historian, who transcribed two of the General’s diaries and put his papers in order. She found that as a young man he had taken part in famine relief work near Fenagh; his career ended as Governor of Kandahar in Afghanistan during the Second Afghan War (1879-1880) One of the diaries has now been published. But the General’s final resting place was a mystery. The search for it took Caroline Jackson 5 whole years but in the end her email to Rev’d Linda Frost resulted in his remains being found. There was an unlisted tomb in the graveyard, and by the simple act of sprinkling flour into the faded engraving on the tomb, the lettering revealed the burial plot of General Primrose. Sue Tyser, Caroline Jackson and Caroline Jones visited for the unveiling of a plaque to General Primrose at the re-dedication service in 2017. The irony is, General Primrose originally from England, died in Dublin, was buried in his wife’s family graveyard. His wife from Fenagh, is buried in England.


But we had a big dream of bringing a church building back into use, to help other people have their dreams too. A girl had a dream of getting married in St Catherine’s Church. The last family wedding in the Church was 71 years ago nearly to the day when her aunt Aileen Booth married Edward Knott. The girls own mother got married in Ballinamore, as St Catherine’s Church was in disrepair. As the years went by, and the girls Grandma and special granddad were laid to rest in the graveyard, she thought her dream was not going to happen. Then, three years ago, repairs started on the Church and on August 16th, the dream came true. We helped that dream become a reality for the family.


And of course, there was the day that sadly, the funeral of Luke Sempler was to take place. With enthusiasm, the hyper-course heating system was lit ready for the event. Unfortunately, no account had been taken for the return of the crows who had built a nest in the chimney. The resulting thick smoke filling the Church meant that all the heat was lost with doors opened. I can still remember the organist arriving and leaving rapidly, coughing and spluttering! Rev’d Linda Frost says she will always remember arriving to find me praying at the back of the Church for the smoke to go! Luckily, by the time the funeral party arrived, the smoke had gone.


All God’s Gifts

On Sunday 9th September, the South Leitrim Group of Parishes gathered in St George’s Church of Ireland, Carrick on Shannon to give thanks for ‘All Gods Gift’s’.

This included all of our Parish and Diocesan readers. It was a special time of thanks for Peter Clampett and Ruth Waller who retired from being Diocesan Readers. As a large group of churches we are indebted to their faithful years of service among us.  Both Peter and Ruth regularly did 2 or 3 services most weeks, and Ruth played the organ as well. Peter was also celebrating 40 years in ministry across the country. Bishop Ferran Glenfield preached at the service and Rector, Rev Linda Frost conducted the service and thanked Peter and Ruth for their help and support during her time in the group. She pointed out the important part lay readers play in keeping all our churches open and services running each week.

Presentations were made by parishioners representing each of the churches: Mohill, Carrick on Shannon, Ballinamore, Drumreilly, Farnaught, Annaduff, Aughavas, Drumshanbo, Fenagh, Kiltubrid to Peter and Ruth at the end of the service, followed by refreshments in the Bush Hotel.

Ordination of David Moses

Last Sunday evening 9th September, Revd. David Moses was ordained as a Prebyter in the Church of Ireland by Rt. Revd. Ferran Glenfield, the Bishop of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh in St Fethlimidh’s Cathedral, Kilmore.

Rev. David Moses has been appointed as Bishops Curate to the Drumgoon Group of Parishes (Cootehill, Ashfeld, Dernakesh and Killesherdoney). He is married to Catherine and they have three grown up children; Sarah, Rachel and Jonathan. In the past year David has been Deacon Intern in the parish group of Monaghan, Tydavnet and Kilmore, working with the rector, Canon Ian Berry. Before beginning his training for ordained ministry he was a sheep and pig farmer. He also served as a Diocesan Lay Reader in Armagh Diocese for 27 years.

During the service, readings were given by Sarah Cathers (Armagh Diocesan Reader), Muriel Treacy (Parish Reader from the Monaghan Group) and Audrey Reilly (Kilmore Diocesan Reader from the Drumgoon Group) representing the churches that have supported Rev. David on his journey to ordained ministry. Archbishop Masimango Katanda, Primate of the Anglican Church of the Congo was also in attendance.

Canon Ian Berry gave the Address at the service of Ordination. In his sermon he encouraged the congregation with a phrase which has struck him from Acts 27 vs 23 – the God to whom I belong and serve’. He spoke of how these wonderful and challenging words speak of the Christian’s closeness to God, they way in which God is at work in the lives of Christians and of the purpose that God has for his people.

A service of welcome will take place for Rev. David Moses on Friday 15th September at 7:30pm in Drumgoon (Cootehill) Church of Ireland.
We pray that the Lord blesses Revd. David and their families as he begins his new role in the Diocese.


Dean Nigel Crossey, Canon Ian Berry, Archbishop Masimango Katanda (Primate of the Anglican Church of the Congo), Revd. David Moses, Bishop Ferran Glenfield, The Ven. Craig McCauley

Revd. David with his wife Catherine and three children, together with Archbishop Masimanga Katanda and Bishop Ferran Glenfield.