The onerousness of their new ministry was brought home to the Rev Andrea Cotter and Rev Alan McCracken during their Service of Ordination as priests in All Saints, Clooney on Wednesday evening. “Your ministry will be one of joy as well as of responsibility,” Bishop Andrew Forster told them, “of happiness as well as of diligence. Yet remember in your heart that if it should come about that the Church, or any of its members, is hurt or hindered by reason of your neglect, your fault will be great and God’s judgement will follow.”
The new curates came to the Diocese of Derry and Raphoe by way of the Diocese of Connor, where they completed training as intern deacons. Rev Cotter, who completed her internship in the Parish of Skerry, Rathcavan and Newtowncrommelin, has been appointed Curate Assistant of All Saints Parish, Clooney, where she will serve with Rev David McBeth.
Rev McCracken undertook his training in the United Parish of Ballynure and Ballyeaston, and he will be to the Moville Group of Parishes, at a service on Saturday afternoon.
Bishop Andrew extended “the warmest of welcomes” to Andrea and her husband Richard, and Alan and his wife Karen. He said all in the diocese looked forward to seeing what plans God had for the new priests’ lives and ministries. The Bishop said he was sure that both couples would enjoy the support and prayers of their new congregations.
If the seriousness of priesthood sounded daunting, Rev Cotter and Rev McCracken were assured by Ven. Robert Miller, in his sermon, that God wasn’t sending them out without equipping them for the task. “In John’s Gospel, which we heard read this evening, we read the words, ‘God is sending you’. And I wonder as a child were you ever sent to run a message for your parents, or were you ever sent to the school office by the teacher to collect something? I’m sure you were, unless you had a very privileged existence. And if so, you probably were greeted with the words: ‘Who sent you?’ Or you may have announced yourself with the words, ‘My mum has sent me to collect.’ But ‘Who sent you?’ is often what people want to know.
“And these important words of sending in our Gospel reading this evening remind us that we all – as God’s people – are sent. The passage allows us to hear Jesus’ words of sending to His apostles after the resurrection, and He speaks to them: ‘As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’”
Archdeacon Miller told both new priests that they were to be messengers, watchers, stewards of the Lord; they were to teach and admonish, to feed and to provide for the Lord’s family; to search for God’s children in the wilderness of the world’s temptations and to guide them through its confusions, so that they may be saved through Christ forever. “As the disciples were sent by Jesus, and empowered by the gift of His holy spirit, so you too are to be ordained this evening and God is asked to pour out His holy spirit upon His servants for the office and work of a priest in His church.
“God is sending you, but He doesn’t send without equipping, for God also – as we were reminded by our reading from Isaiah – God is anointing you. The invocation of the Bishop, with the laying on of hands by your fellow priests, is an intercession for God’s anointing: ‘Pour out Your holy spirit upon Your servant for the office and work of a priest in Your church. As God’s people we are all given the anointing of the holy spirit, and when I reflect on His role in my discipleship and ministry, or – if you prefer – in my following and my leading, I’m reminded of what the Rev Canon David Watson taught: if you think of the Holy Spirit as an ‘it’, you’ll want more of it; but if you remember He is a person, then you will want Him to have more of you.”
Archdeacon Miller reminded the two new curates, and the other clergy present, that they were “co-workers with Christ”. He said God was making His appeal through them. “This ministry of joy and responsibility needs God’s anointing, as indeed the calling of each of us as believers needs to be done so in God’s strength. Each day, each moment of each day, we are called to turn to Him. And St John reminds us that the role of His holy spirit is to lead us into all truth – truth about God, truth about the world we are called to minister in, and truth about ourselves.
“Our ministry is not as a professional Christian, but as a follower. And so, His sending and anointing is for a purpose. And His purpose, as St Paul reminds us from our reading in Corinthians, is that we are ambassadors for Christ – God making His appeal through us. Now, if that doesn’t make you feel uncomfortable, then I don’t think anything will.
“In our epistle, it reminds us why we have been given the Lord’s anointing. We need it. Ministry is impossible without it. God is making His appeal through us – really. He is engaging with the needs of the world through me. It is a truth that should drive us to our knees.”
Wednesday evening’s service was arranged by the Rector of All Saints Clooney, Rev David McBeth and was carried out in accordance with the Northern Ireland Executive’s guidelines and Church of Ireland guidance. Bishop Andrew thanked the Rector, his team, the choir and musicians. He also thanked the two archdeacons who assisted in the service, Ven. David Huss and Archdeacon Miller.