400 years of worship is celebrated in St Macartin’s Cathedral
St Macartin’s Cathedral, Enniskillen, hosted a service to mark the Quadricentennial Year of the Parish of Enniskillen on Friday, 24 March, the Feast Day of Saint Macartin.
The service marking 400 years of worship on this site, was attended by many parishioners as well as people from across the Diocese and local community. They included the Lord Lieutenant for Fermanagh, Viscount Brookeborough KG KStJ, and Lady Brookeborough.
The service was conducted by the Dean of Clogher and Rector of Enniskillen Parish, the Very Revd Kenneth Hall, and the Bishop of Clogher, the Right Revd Dr Ian Ellis, and two former Bishops of Clogher, Archbishop Michael Jackson and Archbishop John McDowell, also took part.
Bishop Ian Ellis gave the Absolution and the Blessing, while Archbishop Michael Jackson led the prayers and Archbishop John McDowell, Primate of All Ireland, preached the sermon.
The Old Testament Lesson was read by Viscount Brookeborough and the New Testament Lesson was read by Mr Sam Morrow OBE, Honorary Secretary of Enniskillen Parish.
The organist, Mr Glenn Moore, and the Cathedral Choir conducted by Mr David Baxter led the praise which included the hymns “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty”, “We love the place, O God”, “Be thou my vision”, and “Nearer, my God, to thee”, as well as the anthem, “The Church’s One Foundation”, arranged by Dan Forrest in 1978, the Magnificat, Psalm 84 and the Nunc Dimittis.
Archbishop McDowell, in his address, paid tribute to the Dean, Select Vestry, parishioners and local community for their support to maintain the fabric of St Macartin’s Cathedral and outlined the history of churches in Ireland from the early days through the Reformation and Disestablishment.
He spoke of the early church practice of giving the First Fruits and 10ths for the establishment of a church but said nowadays the cost of refurbishment of churches was borne by the parishioners and local community themselves such as those connected with St Macartin’s Cathedral, praising them for the remarkable way they reroofed and refurbished the building, without which the witness of God would not go on.
The witness of God was the reason church buildings were important to people over the centuries and why following the ending of Covid restrictions, people were delighted to be back in church, he said.
“They came back to church with great devotion because these were places where they encountered the holiness of God,” said the Archbishop.
As the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Good Friday Agreement approaches, he said: “I think were need to equip ourselves for the building of peace because we are at the point in the life of this country which will either be a breakdown or a breakthrough.”
He said that despite all the promises that were made 25 years ago, everyone had not tried in their personal lives to build on those because the church of Christ in Ireland and in these islands were in particular a vocation of peacemakers and peacebuilders.
“All we have done is we have stopped the war but we have not built the peace.”
He suggested: “We need always to speak a word of peace into every violent or fractious or uncivil conversation or attitude.”
He then quoted the familiar passage from the Book of Matthew: “Blessed are the Peacekeepers for they will be called the Children of God.”
During the service, the two Churchwardens Mr Nathan Clyde, Rector’s Churchwarden, and Miss Alanna Williamson, People’s Churchwarden, assisted by the Dean, cut the Quadricentennial Anniversary Cake.
The congregation was invited to tea in the Cathedral Hall following the service for food and fellowship.
The first church was built on the site during the 1620s with the tower completed in 1637. Following an extension in the early 1800s, St Anne’s Parish Church was reconsecrated in 1842. The church was dedicated as St Macartin’s Cathedral in 1923, as the second cathedral in Clogher Diocese.
There have been many improvements carried out over the years, the most recent being a £550,000 restoration which included re–roofing, repair of stonework, internal redecoration, rebuilding of the organ and enhancement of the Cathedral precincts. This was carried out with the financial support of parishioners, members of the community, local businesses along with grants from the National Churches Trust and AllChurches Trust.
The Cathedral is named after St Macartin, a “strong man” who supported St. Patrick in his mission in Ireland. Macartin was the first Bishop of the Diocese in 454 and is the patron saint of the Diocese.