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.