Bishop uses Remembrance Service to praise the sacrifices made by NHS staff

The Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Rt Rev Andrew Forster, has compared the sacrifice of NHS staff who have put their lives “on the line” to protect people in the pandemic to the soldiers and police officers who gave their lives in two world wars and during the Troubles to protect people’s freedom.

Bishop Andrew was preaching at a Remembrance Sunday service in St Canice’s Church, Eglinton, during which three news stained glass windows in a side chapel were dedicated to the glory of God.

The congregation at the service was restricted to 50 people in line with public health advice. All those present in church followed hand hygiene procedures, wore face coverings and had their temperature recorded on the way into the building. There was no live music – again because of government guidance – and the congregation listened, instead, to hymns broadcast on a large screen.

In a deeply personal sermon – during which he recalled his grandfather, Roger, who was injured after seeing action at the Somme, and his uncle who had a 30 year career in the RUC, and died last May after contracting COVID-19 – Bishop Andrew also remembered NHS workers and those who lost loved ones during the pandemic.

“I think today of nurses and National Health staff,” he said, “who have put their lives on the line during this year. I think of the pressure today, right now, that they are experiencing in Altnagelvin Hospital. Today, I think of those who have had to bury loved ones in very different circumstances from what they would have hoped, who haven’t been able to mourn in the tried and tested ways that help us mourn in our community, and today we say, ‘We will remember them’.

“Perhaps 2020 has caused us to value all the more those who fought and died for the freedoms that we now realise are so precious, and those freedoms have had to be taken away from us because of the pandemic. We realise all the more how important it was for so many who left our shores to fight for freedom’s cause. We think all the more of those who, in our own communities – whenever we were at the edge of the abyss – were prepared to leave the safety of home and the comfort of fireside to make sure that we were able to be safe in our beds during the terrible times of our Troubles. We will remember them.

“I wonder who you are remembering today, from the World Wars, from more recent conflicts? And today – whether it is a distant name from the distant past, or from more recent history – we pause to remember and then to honour their memory. In thankfulness and in humility, we will remember them.

“In both times of remembrance, like today, and in times of crisis, just like we’re living in now, we’ve got to turn to God to find strength. I think all of us see that and understand that. That’s why we’re here today.

“I think of the words of the psalmist in Psalm 91. It says words to us that speak down the years to us in crisis and in fear and in uncertainty: ‘He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”’”

Bishop Andrew told the congregation in St Canice’s that war and violence represented failure. “Today, what we do – together with those right across our nation – is that we don’t glory in war, but we remember and we give thanks, and that is actually our solemn duty. And maybe because of the strange factors of life today, remembrance this year seems all the more poignant.”

During Sunday’s service, parishioners applauded their Rector, Rev Canon Paul Hoey, who was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s birthday honours, recently, for his services to Eglinton during the pandemic.

Canon Hoey invited the Bishop to dedicate three new stained-glass windows which have been installed in the church’s former vestry. The room has been turned into a side chapel, and is now a place for worship and prayer.

The Rector thanked those whose generosity had enabled the installation of the new windows. “I’m very grateful to the Honourable the Irish Society for a donation of one of the windows;” Canon Hoey said, “to an anonymous parishioner for another one; and to Mr and Mrs Caldwell Moore, whose gift is given in memory of their son John. Bishop, I present these windows and ask you to dedicate them as an offering to the glory of God.”

The Rector thanked those whose generosity had enabled the installation of the new windows. “I’m very grateful to the Honourable the Irish Society for a donation of one of the windows;” Canon Hoey said, “to an anonymous parishioner for another one; and to Mr and Mrs Caldwell Moore, whose gift is given in memory of their son John. Bishop, I present these windows and ask you to dedicate them as an offering to the glory of God.”

 

 

Mental health project: call for expressions of interest

The Church of Ireland recently announced a major three–year, all–island, mental health promotion programme entitled ‘Mental Health Promotion across the Church of Ireland and Wider Community’. The project aims to transform the understanding of, attitudes towards, and responses to mental health within the Church of Ireland and the wider community. It has been made possible by a significant grant from Allchurches Trust – one of the UK and Ireland’s largest grant–making charities.

The Representative Church Body of the Church of Ireland is now seeking to engage a researcher/team of researchers to undertake a significant piece of research, commencing in January 2021:

– Phase 1 will establish baseline measurements of the awareness of, and attitudes towards, mental health across the Church of Ireland, and inform a programme of mental health promotion and training activities at a national and local level.

– Phase 2 (Spring 2023) will assess the impact of the promotion and training activities, and build a framework to support the future development of a cohesive, sustainable, mental health strategy for the Church of Ireland

More information is available in the research brief available here.  The closing date for receipt of quotations is 5pm, Friday, 20th November.

 

Assistance for Covid-hit businesses

The RCB has drawn our attention to two schemes which may be relevant to parishes in the Diocese of Derry.

The Localised Restrictions Support Scheme was extended to all of Northern Ireland on 16th October 2020. The scheme is open to businesses which have been required to close or have had their activities directly curtailed by the restrictions.  See the attached pdf for further information as well as government websites.

The Job Support Scheme has been expanded to support businesses across the UK ( including Northern Ireland) who have been required to close premises due to the coronavirus restrictions.  There is an explanatory document for this scheme attached but information is also widely available on the government website.

The attached documents contain more information on the schemes.

https://www.derryandraphoe.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Job-Expansion-Support-Scheme-for-Closed-Business-Premises-5.pdf

https://www.derryandraphoe.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Localised-Restrictions-Support-Scheme-Guidance-V3-19Oct2020-4.pdf

 

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.
https://youtu.be/xtXXNey3H8g

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”.