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Mothers’ Union Thanksgiving Service sees dedication of 130th Anniversary stained glass

Mothers’ Union All Ireland President, Phyllis Grothier, Archbishop Michael Jackson, Archbishop Richard Clarke and Mothers’ Union All Ireland Chaplain, Dean Raymond Ferguson with the newly commissioned stained glass marking the 130 years of Mothers’ Union in Ireland.
Mothers’ Union All Ireland President, Phyllis Grothier, Archbishop Michael Jackson, Archbishop Richard Clarke and Mothers’ Union All Ireland Chaplain, Dean Raymond Ferguson with the newly commissioned stained glass marking the 130 years of Mothers’ Union in Ireland.

Mothers’ Union members from all over Ireland travelled to Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, on Saturday October 6 for the All–Ireland Triennial Thanksgiving Service. The service was celebrated by the Archbishop of Dublin, the Most Revd Dr Michael Jackson and the preacher was the Archbishop of Armagh, the Most Revd Dr Richard Clarke.

During the service a new piece of stained glass was dedicated by Archbishop Jackson. The plaque was commissioned by Mothers’ Union to mark the 130th anniversary of the organisation in Ireland last year.

The central image of the piece is a tree with 13 branches, representing the 13 decades of MU in Ireland. During the 2017 celebrations, 12 trees were planted across Ireland, one in each diocese. The new piece which has been placed in the Laurence O’Toole/Mothers’ Union Chapel in Christ Church Cathedral, represents the 13th tree.

In his sermon, Archbishop Clarke noted that a lot had happened in Ireland since the last Triennial Thanksgiving Service. The people of the Republic of Ireland had decided that marriage was to be viewed in a wider context and the unborn were to be viewed in a different way. The people of Northern Ireland have had to come to understand that the peace process was not going to run itself and there was the “dreaded ‘b’ word”. Whatever, the outcome of Brexit, the Archbishop said that already politicians, different generations, communities and even families were divided by it.

“So if the Church as a whole does not understand what is going on around us, then we must sink into irrelevance. And the same applies to us here today,” he said.

He said that giving thanks for the companionship and Christian witness that Mothers’ Union provided could not be taken for granted and pointed to the MU’s foundation in prayer. However, he said that Mothers’ Union also had a vital role to play in ensuring that people in Ireland did not become complacent about systemic injustice, gender–based violence and the exploitation of women and children.

“Mothers’ Union has reminded all of us that gender–based violence is always in our midst … Mothers’ Union has worked to make us more aware, more conscious and more alert and for this we give thanks … Mothers’ Union has much to offer in this chaotic world. To you it may seem insignificant but nothing is insignificant when it is touched by Christ,” Archbishop Clarke said.

He added: “Mothers’ Union cares about families. Mothers’ Union cares about justice for women and children and you help the church to explore these moral issues … You bring a different perspective which can enable the wider church to act with compassion and give a wider dimension to thinking. Mothers’ Union is about the totality of the family and the family in joy but equally the family in pain, the family in need, the family faced with the pain of letting someone go. Please be ready to help the rest of us make good judgements about complex issues.”

He concluded by saying MU founder Mary Sumner’s personal prayer: “All this day, O Lord, let me touch as many lives as possible for thee; and every life I touch, do thou by thy spirit quicken, whether through the word I speak, the prayer I breathe, or the life I live.”