Mahajanga Calling – Again

The Diocesan Board of Mission and Unity has relaunched its missionary outreach initiative, ‘Mahajanga Calling’. “Why now, in the middle of a pandemic?” you might ask. Well, there are those – Bishop Andrew included – who believe that this may be a moment of opportunity…..for Derry and Raphoe, as well as Mahajanga.

Please take some time to watch our short film.



Mahajanga Calling

The Diocesan Board of Mission and Unity has relaunched its missionary outreach initiative, ‘Mahajanga Calling’.
“Why now, in the middle of a pandemic?” you might ask. Well, there are those – Bishop Andrew included – who believe that this may be a moment of opportunity…..for Derry and Raphoe, as well as Mahajanga.
Please take some time to watch our short film.

Diocesan Office to close again

The Diocesan Office will be closed to the public, from Monday 19th October, in light of recent announcements about additional restrictions to tackle the pandemic.


Queen’s Birthday Honour for Canon Paul Hoey

The Rector of Faughanvale, Rev Canon Paul Hoey, has been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for “Services to the Community in Eglinton, Londonderry” during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Canon Hoey initiated the Eglinton Churches Together response to the crisis, which brought church members and the local community together to support people in the Eglinton and Greysteel areas who were self-isolating or feeling vulnerable. Volunteers collected and delivered shopping to their neighbours, picked up medicines and other urgent supplies, and posted mail. The local Presbyterian, Roman Catholic and Church of Ireland churches nominated ‘contact persons’ who stayed in touch by telephone with anyone who was feeling lonely or anxious.

Canon Hoey – who was following in the footsteps of his late mother in receiving an MBE – said his honour should be seen as shared by other clergy and by the wider community. “I am humbled and, indeed, astonished to have been awarded an MBE for services to the Eglinton community,” he said. “I have served as Rector of Faughanvale for five years now and during that time have seen the community coming together as one to overcome challenges that would defeat many others.

“I hope the award will be seen as a shared honour by the many who have worked with me for the good of the local community, especially my colleagues in ministry, Rev Lindsay Blair and Father Noel McDermott; the staff and helpers at Eglinton Community Centre; and the many volunteers who have given so selflessly of their time and energy to ensure that shielding and vulnerable people have been supported during the pandemic. Most of all, it is a tribute to the resilience and generosity of the people of Eglinton.

“On a personal note, I am honoured and moved to be following in the footsteps of my late mother who received the same award many years ago.”

Canon Hoey was congratulated by the Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Rt Rev Andrew Forster. “I congratulate Canon Paul Hoey on being honoured by Her Majesty the Queen,” the Bishop said. “The award is richly deserved and a great tribute to the positive impact that he has had during his five years as Rector of Faughanvale. I hope this award will serve as an encouragement to Paul and his colleagues of other denominations who have jointly modelled compassionate and practical faith in their communities. I hope that it will also encourage the villagers of Eglinton and Greysteel, who have responded with remarkable resilience and generosity to the challenges of flood and pandemic, in recent years, setting an inspirational example to us all.”

New chapter written in St Columb’s Cathedral’s history as New Canons are Installed

St Columb’s Cathedral’s first female Canon in its 400-year-history has been installed as a member of the Cathedral Chapter at a Service in Londonderry. Rev Canon Katie McAteer, the Pastoral Director of the CCCMSP Group of Parishes, took her stall opposite her colleague, Glendermott and Newbuildings Rector Rev Canon Robert Boyd, during a Covid-compliant double Installation Service on Wednesday evening.
Canon McAteer was following in the footsteps of her father who was a Canon of Chester Cathedral. For Canon Boyd it was a case of déjà vu: he had previously served as a member of the Cathedral Chapter of St Patrick’s, in Armagh.
Wednesday evening’s Service was led by the Dean of Derry, Very Rev Raymond Stewart, who welcomed the new Canons, members of their families and members of their parishes to the Service. Dean Stewart said some of the people who had been invited to the Service had decided for health and safety reasons not to attend. There was rigid enforcement of Coronavirus guidelines in church, including physical distancing, hand sanitisation and the wearing of face coverings. The Service was livestreamed on the Cathedral’s Facebook page.
The sermon was preached by the Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Rt Rev Andrew Forster, who appointed the two new canons last June. “It’s so good to be together, tonight in the Cathedral to share in this time of celebration,” Bishop Andrew said, “limited though it is in these strange and difficult days that we’re living through.”
It was, the Bishop said, an important night for the Church, the diocese and its parishes, and for Robert and Katie, and their families. They had gathered primarily to worship Almighty God, Bishop Andrew said, but they were also there to honour “two of our own” as they became Canons of the ancient and beautiful cathedral of St Columb.
“This evening, Robert and Katie, we’re here to celebrate you, we’re here to encourage you and we’re here to pray for you. And we’re also here to thank you, to thank you for your ministry, to thank you for who you are as followers of Jesus Christ, and to thank you for who you are as ordained people who serve faithfully, who serve well. Tonight, we’re so pleased that you join the Chapter of this Cathedral.”
“Down through the years, Bishops have appointed Canons because in their lives and in their ministry they incarnated what it means to be a pastor – to preach, to teach, to care for God’s people, just as, in history, canons and prebends did. And all of us know that Robert and Katie live out those qualities marvellously: in their own personal lives, in their day-to-day lives, they live out the sermon of Christ; in their pulpits they teach the Good News of Christ; and in their diligent care for their parishioners they care for Christ’s people.
“So, today, for me – as the first people I’ve ever had the pleasure of appointing to a Cathedral stall – we delight in you; I want you to know that we delight in you because you live out the historic qualities of what it is to be a Canon, to preach and teach and care for God’s people. But this isn’t the ecclesiastical equivalent of getting a long-service gong or anything like it; it’s nothing to do with that. It’s about acknowledging your ministry and allowing the wider diocese and the people of God to share that ministry and to benefit from that ministry.”
The Dean was assisted in the Service of Installation by Rev Canon John Merrick and Diocesan Registrar, Rev Canon David Crooks. Two other members of the Cathedral Chapter, Rev Canon Paul Hoey and Rev Canon Paul Whittaker, also took part in the Installation.
The readings were read by Glendermott Curate, Rev Iain McAleavey, and Diocesan Reader Linda Hughes. The organist for the Service was Dr Derek Collins and Joanna Higgins sang the anthem ‘How Beautiful are the Feet’ from Handel’s Messiah.

‘Give careful thought to your ways,’ Bishop Andrew says, as COVID-19 virus spreads

The Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Rt Rev Andrew Forster, has urged people to follow the advice of public health experts and do their bit to stop the spread of the Coronavirus. His appeal followed the introduction on Monday of new COVID-19 restrictions in the Derry City and Strabane District, and the Irish government’s decision to move the entire Republic of Ireland to Level 3 restrictions.

Bishop Andrew said rapidly changing restrictions and guidelines could sometimes seem confusing, but there were broad rules about which there was no ambiguity: the need to sanitise our hands, the need to wear masks and the need to observe social distancing.

You can tread the Bishop’s statement in full below:
“We have all been shocked by the recent sharp spike in COVID-19 cases in parts of the Diocese of Derry and Raphoe. It is clear that the virus is spreading rapidly and that drastic action is needed to stop it.

“Politicians north and south have a difficult job to do in reconciling the medical and scientific advice with economic requirements, and in balancing people’s physical and mental wellbeing. Economic considerations are undoubtedly important, but people’s safety is paramount. I pray that God will grant our leaders the gift of discernment when making difficult and occasionally unpopular decisions.

“The COVID-19 virus is making enormous demands of us as a society – how we work, how we socialise, how we behave, how we grieve. At times it has been a huge ‘ask’, and the toll on people’s morale – even on their mental health – has been severe. These are very difficult days and it is easy to become discouraged.

“But little things can make a big difference and we can all ‘do our bit’.

“Even with rapidly changing restrictions and guidelines that can sometimes seem confusing, let’s remember there are broad rules that we’ve all been made aware of and about which there is no ambiguity: the need to sanitise our hands, the need to wear masks and the need to observe social distancing – ‘hands, face and space’.

“In the Bible, the prophet Haggai offers advice to the people who are refusing to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. He says: “Give careful thought to your ways.” Obviously, the context was different to that in which we now find ourselves, but the advice holds true. In fact, Haggai mentions this instruction not once but twice: “Give careful thought to your ways.”

“So, we would do well to heed that advice now. Please listen to the experts. Follow their advice. And please do the little things: ‘hands, face and space’. That’s how we look out for each other. That’s how we love our neighbour.

“There’s one other practical thing we, as Christians, can and should do in this pandemic: turn to God. I urge you to pray for the scientists who are searching for a vaccine; pray for the politicians who are trying to manage this intractable situation; pray for the healthcare staff and essential services workers who are looking after us in these very difficult times. Pray for the anxious and the fearful, and for those who are ill because of Covid.

“Pray for one another, too. Give careful thought to your ways. Wash your hands, wear a mask, keep your distance, and one day we will defeat this virus.”

Cross-border move beckons for Drumragh curate Rev Sean Hanily

The curate of Drumragh with Mountfield, Rev Sean Hanily, is to take up a new role as Rector of Rathmichael in the Diocese of Dublin later this autumn. The news was announced to parishioners during today’s Service of Morning Prayer in St Columba’s Church in Omagh.

Rev Hanily, who has served as curate in Tyrone for just over two years, said the news had come as a shock to him. “I didn’t go looking for this appointment,” he told parishioners, “the appointment sought me out and found me.”

The curate thanked the parishioners for taking him and his wife Cherith into their hearts and for making them feel welcome. He said in one way he felt really sad [to be leaving] but that he had always been open to God’ call. “I feel God telling me that this is the right thing for my ministry and for us as a family.”

Rev Hanily told the congregation in church and watching online that he expected to be leaving “sooner rather than later”, probably around November. “Be assured that God is in this for you as He is for me,” he said, “and I know that in due course a new clergy team of rector – and probably then, at some point, curate – is going to come here and you are going to be blessed.”

Rev Hanily was applauded by those gathered in church for Sunday’s Service. The Rector’s Church Warden, Alan Mitchell, congratulated him on his first incumbency and thanked the curate “for his ministry, fellowship, friendship and leadership over the last six months of the vacancy in Drumragh with Mountfield”.


New Covid-19 restrictions for Donegal “disappointing” but “hardly surprising” – Bishop Andrew

The Irish government is imposing Level 3 restrictions on County Donegal from midnight on Friday following a dramatic increase in the incidence of Covid-19 infections in the county. The number of cases per 100,000 of the population more than doubled in the last week. The Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Rt Rev Andrew Forster, said the decision to tighten restrictions was “disappointing” but “hardly surprising”, given the rising number of cases.

Bishop Andrew’s statement in full:


The announcement of tighter restrictions again, in County Donegal, is hardly surprising. The recent rise in the number of cases in the county left the authorities will little option. So, while the decision is disappointing, we must give our full support to these efforts to suppress the virus.

Our parishioners and clergy have already been heroic in the face of the coronavirus pandemic – in how they’ve responded to the challenge, how they’ve reordered their lives and how they’ve reimagined worship. Now, the Donegal side of our Derry and Raphoe family is being tested once again. Our church buildings, there, will close for public worship again with immediate effect, and those services will once more move exclusively online.

We all have a role to play in defeating this virus. I implore you to heed the advice of the authorities. In doing so, we will be showing our love for our neighbours, as well as our families and friends, and make no mistake: we will be saving lives.

I pray for God’s enlightenment for the scientists searching for a vaccine; I pray for His guidance for all our leaders as they guide us through this grave crisis; I thank God for the healthcare workers who have been unstinting in their bravery and generosity and compassion; I thank God for the essential services workers who have looked after us all for the last six months; and I pray that whatever the future brings, God will continue to hold you close to Him and that He will remain your refuge and strength.

Bishops’ Appeal Harvest Newsletter

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on Bishops’ Appeal, with a knock-on effect on the projects it supports. This is a big ask, but even as we struggle to make ends meet, please don’t forget Bishops’ Appeal, the valuable work that it does or the people that it helps.

The Bishops’ Appeal Harvest Newsletter, at the link below, provides a timely reminder of the valuable work it does among some of the most marginalised in God’s creation.

Harvest Art Competition

The deadline for entries to the Diocese of Derry and Raphoe’s ‘Harvest Art Challenge’ has been extended by a week until Friday 23rd October.
The competition offers young people a chance to show off their creative instincts and their artistic talents by retelling ‘The Parable of the Sower’. There are four age categories: 3-5; 6-8; 9-11; and over 12s.Entrants can use drawings, colouring pages, paintings, photography, videos, music, graphic design, or any other creative medium. The winners in each category will get up a tablet, with prizes, too, for the runners-up and third-placed entrants.
Entries should be posted to Kirsty McCartney, Diocese of Derry and Raphoe, 24 London Street, Londonderry, BT48 6RQ. They may also be emailed to
All entries must have the entrant’s name, age, parish, and contact address clearly marked (this data will be held in accordance with GDPR).
The ‘Harvest Art Challenge’ is organised jointly by SEEDS Children’s Ministry and Derry and Raphoe Youth (DRY).