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Church of Ireland Notes from ‘The Irish Times’

New Year Message

As has become customary the leaders of the four main Churches and the President of the Irish Council of Churches have issued a joint New Year Message. In the light of recent challenges to the stability of Irish society and the deeply concerning threats to world order, their words are singularly appropriate.

‘During 2023 we reflected on the twenty–five years which have passed since the signing of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement. It has been a long walk, which on occasion picked up pace, at other times was reduced to a crawl, and is still ongoing. Since the signing of the Agreement in 1998 a whole generation has now come and gone and much has changed in our world on a global scale as well as at a local level but very few people living in these islands would want to return to the past. We therefore need to stay clearly focused on the future, with a renewed commitment to the process of building relationships of mutual respect and trust. Although we have travelled a long way, there is still some distance to go in our journey to peace and much work remains to be done.

As we acknowledged in our St Patrick’s Day Statement back in 2021, as Christian churches we have often been captive churches; not captive to the Word of God, but to the idols of state and nation. The shackles of our troubled and difficult past have restrained and hindered us. Relationships have been damaged. Yet we also need to appreciate that healing takes time. …We need to ensure that we teach our children to love, respect and care for one another so that they learn that love is stronger than hate, good overcomes evil and light scatters the darkness.

We enter a new year in which war, violence and conflict now overshadow so many parts of our world. With our experiences here in this land, may we encourage and support others to take those first steps down the road to peace, to walk in the way of reconciliation, to seek to heal and not hurt.

Let us therefore continue to build relationships, break down barriers, and work for a sustainable and lasting peace and as ambassadors of Christ’s mess.’

Inevitably the New Year will usher in some clerical changes.

The Very Revd Stephen Farrell, Dean of Ossory in St Canice’s Cathedral, Kilkenny, has been elected to the Chapter of St Patrick’s cathedral, Dublin, and in the New Year he will be installed as Prebendary of Monmohenock in succession to the Revd Timothy Kinahan, whose retirement took effect on 31 October.

On 14 January, in St Mary’s cathedral, Tuam, the Bishop of Tuam, Limerick & Killaloe, the Rt Revd Michael Burrows, will institute the Revd Diane Matchett as incumbent of Tuam/Omey group of parishes and she will then be installed as Dean of Tuam. Ms Matchett was ordained in 2005 and is currently rector of Kildress & Altedesert, near Cookstown, in the Diocese of Armagh.

At the end of the month the Revd Dr Edwin Aiken will move to Enniskillen from Christ Church cathedral, Dublin, where he has been Dean’s Vicar since 2022.

Today (Saturday) is the Feast of the Epiphany. With its associations with Twelfth Night it is, for many, the end of Christmas. But while the trees may be off to the re–cycling centre, the cards in the green bins and the  decorations returned to the attic, in the Church’s year Christmas continues until Candlemas, 2 February.


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