The Chapter of Saint Columb’s Cathedral in Londonderry was brought up to its full complement on Wednesday evening when the Garvagh Rector, Rev Paul Whittaker, was installed as a Canon of the Cathedral.
Rev Canon Whittaker was installed at a ceremony led by the Dean of Derry, Very Rev Raymond Stewart, in the presence of the Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Rt Rev Ken Good. It was the Dean’s first Service of Installation since being appointed to his new position six months ago.
Among those who joined the new Canon’s wife, Carol, in the congregation on Wednesday evening, were parishioners from his own Errigal and Desertoghill parish, and friends from two neighbouring Roman Catholic Dioceses, Glenullin and Ballerin. In welcoming the congregation to the service, Dean Stewart wished every blessing on the new Canon.
The sermon was preached by the Archdeacon of Derry, Ven Robert Miller, who said it was “a night of celebration”. The two men had studied together for three years when they both attended the former Theological Institute in Dublin and had remained friends ever since.
The Archdeacon said the collect for the day asked that God’s people may both perceive and know the things that they wanted to do and then have the grace and power to faithfully fulfil them. “Surely those are words particularly that we want to hold onto this evening,” the Preacher said, “as we celebrate the beginning of a new ministry, a new member in the chapter, then tonight we are to turn to the Lord for his guidance and his strength.
“Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel has laid out for his disciples – those who were listening to him – what it means to be a disciple”, Archdeacon Miller said. “Others who were listening perhaps had to decide which side of the fence they had wanted to come down upon. Would they accept Jesus as God’s anointed King or not? Church is a transforming community. Our obliged individuals, our community together of parishioners in our local expression of church, are to be a dynamic pattern of change. As we seek to become people God called us to be, we see that that is not a solo occupation, but we’re there together, becoming the body of Christ.
The Archdeacon said becoming a Canon was not an isolated thing for Rev Whittaker; he was becoming a member of a Cathedral chapter. “A cathedral is considered sometimes as the Mother Church of the Diocese and so, as a part of that Chapter, he’ll play a role in nurturing and in sustaining, indeed helping that ministry of the local church to be transformative, both for those who lead and for those who minister. Paul is called to play his role – which I know he will – to full effect.”
Archdeacon Miller recalled the advice of a former Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Ramsey, that we should not be concerned about status or preferment. The only status we should be concerned about was our proximity to the Lord Jesus.
“Those of you who know Paul will know that he is passionate about evangelism,” the Preacher said. “He believes the Good News is that – good news. It should be shared with others. It brings hope. It brings the reality that change is possible for everyone and in every situation.”
The readings at the Service of Installation were read by the Rev Canon Mike Roemmele, Rector of the Parish of Camus-Juxta-Bann, and Errigal parishioner Eleanor Livingston. Music was provided by the choristers of the Cathedral, under the guidance of Dr Derek Collins, Acting Organist and Master of the Choristers.
After the service, members of the congregation moved to nearby St Augustine’s Parish Hall for refreshments and short speeches.