Dean Arthur scales new heights with Cathedral restoration project

Work is now well under way on the restoration project at St. Eunan’s Cathedral in Raphoe. Dean Arthur met with architect Karl Pedersen and contractor Richard Gamble today, to check on progress. The Rector – who is familiar with almost every aspect of the cathedral – said it was fascinating to see the close-up detail of such an old building, and the intricate work taking place there.

The work was initially meant to start last April but the project fell behind schedule as the Covid-19 pandemic took hold. The recent announcement of an €80,000 grant from the Historic Structures Fund and the Built Heritage Investment Scheme – administered through Donegal County Council – allowed the Raphoe Cathedral Restoration Projection to get ‘back on track’ last month, albeit slightly behind schedule.

Christians have been praying on the cathedral site for 1,400 years and this present church is over 800 years old. “If we’re to preserve worship on this ancient and historic site,” the Dean said, “then this restoration work is absolutely essential.” He has thanked his parishioners for their patience and generosity, and for their commitment to St Eunan’s Cathedral.

Rev Rhys Jones appointed Rector of Balteagh Group

The Rev Rhys Jones has been appointed Rector of the Balteagh and Carrick, Tamlaghtard and Aghanloo Group of Parishes. He succeeds Rev Canon David Ferry who retired in July last year.

Rev Jones was one of the five ministers ordained at a Service in Glendermott Church three years ago, along with Rev Liz Fitzgerald, Rev Nigel Cairns, Rev Jonathan McFarland and Rev Robert Wray. Since then, he has served as Curate in All Saints’ Clooney.

The new incumbent will be instituted in November.


Rev Iain McAleavey ordained curate for Diocese of Derry and Raphoe

The Diocese of Derry and Raphoe has a new priest following Sunday evening’s ordination of Rev Iain McAleavey at a Service in Glendermott Parish Church in Londonderry.

The 26-year-old County Down man was ordained by the Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Rt Rev Andrew Forster, and will serve as Curate in the Parish of Glendermott and Newbuildings.

The service was dramatically different to most ordinations in the Diocese because of the restrictions in place to limit the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

The much smaller than usual congregation was obvious evidence of the virus’s impact, although perhaps the most poignant effect was seen near the end of the ordination when – instead of the usual mass laying-on of hands by clergy – Bishop Andrew led individual clergy in performing the ritual, after each had cleansed their hands with sanitiser.

Bishop Andrew referred to the changed circumstances for an ordination. “We would usually expect the church to be packed,” he said, “and lots of singing and a good bun-fight afterwards, and so on, and there’s an awful lot that we can’t do this evening because of the Covid-19 restrictions. But, what did we say, as we began this service? ‘The Lord be with you, and also with you.’ God is here. His spirit is with us. His presence is with us. And he comes to bless us by His presence and by His grace.”

Also lending his presence to the occasion was the Rt Rev Darren McCartney, former Suffragan Bishop of the Arctic and Rector of Clonallon & Warrenpoint with Kilbroney. Among those in church to watch Rev McAleavey being priested were the new curate’s girlfriend, Danni deKeizer, who delivered the second reading, and his parents Colin and Irene. The first reading was read by Rev Joanne Megarrell, the Rector of Moira, where Iain first discerned a call to ministry, and the Gospel was read by Rev Arthur Burns, Curate in NSM at Glendermott.

Bishop Andrew was assisted in the Service by the Rector of Glendermott, Rev Canon Robert Boyd; the Archdeacon of Derry, Ven. Robert Miller and the Archdeacon of Raphoe, Ven. David Huss, who preached the sermon. Archdeacon Huss said Ian was a Lisburn man – “and that’s a very good sign right there, at the beginning.” But what was this ordained ministry that Ian was being sent to do?

“When I left work as a schoolteacher,” the preacher said, “to go off to Theological College to train, one of my colleagues said, ‘David, from now on you’ll be drinking tea and opening garden fetes all day long.’” That was the perception, Archdeacon Huss said. But what does a minister of the Gospel really do? Was it just to vaguely float around opening things and being there occasionally for people when the minister might be needed?

“Well, there’s no better place to turn to,” the preacher said, “than [today’s] Gospel reading [John, 20: 19-23] , where the Lord Jesus Christ sent his apostles out on their mission and ministry in the world. And it shows us here that the ministry of the Gospel, the ministry of those who inherit that mantle from the apostles – the ministry of the priests or elders or presbyters in the Church of God – is not like any other work or calling.”

Archdeacon Huss said ministry had a number of features that were very striking, very wonderful and very odd in today’s world: it was a ministry grounded in the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the peace that flowed from it; it was a ministry empowered by the Holy Spirit – “The resurrection of Christ is the bedrock of our faith and of our ministry, showing that this is not some airy-fairy idea, it’s not some vague notion dreamed up in some cloistered, quiet place, but it’s a solid fact: public, historical, undeniable.” – and it was a ministry to do with the forgiveness of sins.

“This is the strange part, isn’t it? I said at the beginning that ministry is strange in the eyes of people today, maybe in the wider world, and here’s a very strange part about it: Jesus says, ‘If you forgive the sins of any they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any they are retained.’ What a strange way to sum up the ministry that he was sending the apostles to do. You might be expecting him to say, ‘Receive the `Holy Spirit, now go and preach the Word,’ or ‘Receive the Holy Spirit, now go and build up my Church.’ But he says a strange thing about the forgiveness of sins. And here is a place where the Christian ministry departs from secular ideas and understanding of what’s really most needed in our world.

“If you were to go out and do an opinion poll: what are the biggest problems in our world, what are the biggest needs? Well, at the minute, Coronavirus, climate change, economic problems, inequality, the migration crisis, and so many other things. But, of course, the Lord teaches us that there’s something much deeper, there’s a problem which goes below the surface of all of those other things, and it is the problem that’s summed up in the simple word ‘sin’. The reality of sin is something which the Lord Jesus Christ doesn’t shy away from, and which those called to ministry need also to hold to.

“There is a deep problem in our world and in every human heart. As the Russian dissident and prisoner of conscience, Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, said after years in the Gulag, in the prison camp, he said, he discovered that the line between good and evil runs through every human heart. And the Lord says not good people and bad people, there are people made in the image of God – wonderfully, fearfully made – but who are broken because of sin, the reality of sin, but also, of course, there’s the remedy for sin.

“Here’s the wonderful news,“ Archdeacon Huss said, “that there is an answer to this deepest human problem – which is in the Lord Jesus Christ. And so, He sends the apostles to this task of the forgiveness of sins. Of course, we’re well aware that it’s God alone who forgives sins, but He gives to the apostles and He gives to the preachers of the Gospel the task of declaring the way in which sins can be forgiven, and of assuring people who repent and believe that their sins are forgiven. He sends the apostles, in other words, into the ministry of absolution.

“As the old words of the Morning and Evening Prayer Service said, ‘He hath given power and commandment to His ministers to declare and pronounce to His people being penitent the absolution and remission of their sins. This is a wonderful privilege that you will now have to declare to God’s people as they repent that their sins are forgiven through Christ.

“So, don’t shy away, Ian, from this key aspect of ministry, that it has to do with the forgiveness of sins; with leading people to the place where they find that forgiveness; leading them to the cross, in your preaching, in your presiding at the Lord’s table where you will present before the people the body and blood of Christ, broken and poured out for them – for their forgiveness, for their healing, for their salvation.

“Whatever you do, lead them to the Lord Jesus. This ministry is based on His resurrection, it’s empowered by His spirit and it releases that wonderful gift of the forgiveness of sins.

Archdeacon Huss said making Jesus known, turning people from sin to the Saviour and bringing enlightenment were things the new Curate could not do but God could do through him, by the power of the Holy Spirit. “So, continue to pray day by day that you will be enlarged and enlightened in your understanding, and not only understanding but in your love for these truths, to be able to share them and proclaim them.”

Lastly, the preacher asked the Lord to bless Rev McAleavey as he embarked on this greatest possible privilege.

New doors dedicated in Killult Parish Church

The Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Rt Rev Andrew Forster, paid his first visit to St Ann’s Church, Killult, on Sunday to dedicate two new doors which had been bequeathed by a former organist in the church. The bequest was made by Mrs Martha Baskin (neé Dunleavy) and her husband Jack, in memory of the Dunleavys of Baltoney. The couple were accompanied in church by their daughter, Jacqueline, and granddaughter Lisa.

The Service of Dedication was fully compliant with Covid-19 guidelines. Bishop Andrew was assisted by the Rector of Dunfanaghy, Raymunterdoney and Tullaghobegley, Rev David Skuce.

In his sermon, the Bishop recalled the words of Psalm 84, which extols the joy of worshipping in the Temple. Bishop Andrew said the closure of church buildings following the Covid-19 outbreak meant we could identify with the psalmist, whose soul longed for God’s house.

He thanked Mr and Mrs Baskin for their generosity towards the parish. The new doors – for the vestry and porch of St Ann’s – were made by MacBride Brothers of Convoy. A small plaque has been erected in the porch to mark the occasion.

Earlier in the day, Bishop Andrew presided and preached at a Service of Holy Communion eight miles away, in Dunfanaghy Parish Church.

Bishop assures new Deacon that God will equip her for the trials of ministry

Drumragh (Omagh) parishioner and diocesan reader, Rev Claire Henderson, has been ordained Deacon at a Service in St Eunan’s Cathedral in Raphoe – becoming the first newly-ordained deacon in the diocese in three years. Rev Henderson will serve her Internship in the Raphoe Group of Parishes, which includes Raymochy and Clonleigh.

Sunday’s service – which took place under stringent Covid-19 restrictions – was the first ordination conducted by Rt Rev Andrew Forster since his consecration as Bishop of Derry and Raphoe last December. The reduced congregation had to wear face coverings and observe strict hand sanitisation procedures, and social distancing was adhered to rigidly in church.

Welcoming the congregation, Bishop Andrew said, “Usually, in an Ordination Service, the cathedral would be packed. There’d be lots of people here, there would be a real sense of occasion, a great crowd, and so on. But God isn’t impressed by crowds and the sense of occasion. God’s impressed by the heart and what goes on in the heart, and the Lord is here, and His spirit is with us.”

Among the select few present to witness what the Bishop called “a day filled with joy and filled with that sense of God’s presence” were Rev Henderson’s parents, George and Jean, the Curate at Drumragh, Rev Sean Hanily, and the former Rector of Drumragh with Mountfield, Rev Ian Linton. Bishop Andrew was assisted by the Dean of Raphoe, Very Rev Arthur Barrett; the Archdeacon of Raphoe, Ven. David Huss; the Archdeacon of Derry, Ven. Robert Miller; and the Diocesan Registrar, Rev Canon David Crooks.

In his sermon, Bishop Andrew said they were marking a very significant landmark in the story of Rev Henderson’s life and were thankful for so much that had led her to this moment. “We all know that there have been many difficult moments in that journey,” the Bishop said, “and through all of that, your faith has shone brightly as you responded to God’s call in your life.” The story of our lives helps us to mould the priorities and the pattern of our ministry – whether lay or ordained – the Bishop said. Turning to the candidate, he said: “Those things that have changed us, broken us, moulded us, shaped us, help set the pattern for our own service to God. So you bring so much from your story into the story of the lives of those whom you will serve. And today we’re thankful for all that your story brings.”

Referring to the Gospel reading (Isaiah 6:1-8), Bishop Andrew said it was interesting that Isaiah’s call [to ministry] came in Chapter 6. “I think Isaiah wants to tell us some of his story, some of the context of the man he was whenever God called him and commissioned him. Chapters one to five of Isaiah, if you like, set the scene – the context – for his ministry, and to say that it was challenging may be a bit of an understatement. Isaiah paints a word picture, in those first five chapters, of a country in a mess, of an uncertain future, and of a people loosening their grip on the foundational faith of their forefathers. It sounds familiar, doesn’t it? It sounds familiar to the world in which we live and the world in which we are called to serve God and His people.

“And he talks about a country that is absolutely desolate. Listen to these desolate words, something of a damning diagnosis by Isaiah of his own country, in Chapter 5, verse 30. ‘And if one looks to the land, only darkness and distress, and the light grows dark with clouds.’ Only darkness and distress, and the light grows dark with clouds. Everything seemed to be going wrong: uncertainty, pain and apostasy. You know, the context that we live in is a very difficult one. Uncertainty? Certainly. Pain? Yes. And we are called in this context to show and live out the good news of Jesus. We bring our story – the story of God in our lives – into the story of those whom we serve.

“All was pretty bleak for Isaiah before he was called. All was bleak in the country; all was bleak in the city. And then we have this famous scriptural line, Isaiah, Chapter 6, verse 1: ‘In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord’.

“Now, the year was somewhere around 740 BC; Uzziah had become king when he was 16, and he’d reigned for many decades, and most of the time it had been really good – he’d been a good king, a successful king. But then pride got the better of Uzziah and he makes a terrible mistake, [and] the judgement of God falls upon him. He ends up in the last ten years of his life living as a leper. His son, Jotham, becomes the regent during this time

“For Isaiah, the King – Uzziah – was symbolic of the nation and its plight and its problems. All seemed bleak as Isaiah begins his ministry. But, as one writer puts it, ‘When the outlook is bleak, try the up-look.’ When the outlook is bleak, try the uplook. ‘I saw the Lord,’ says Isaiah, and He was high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple.

“It’s almost as if God was saying to Isaiah, ‘Yes, the king may not be on his throne, but I am. I am, Isaiah. I am on the throne.’ And where was God in all this mess that Isaiah saw? He was on the throne. And whenever we read the Old Testament, Job sees God on His throne, David sees God on His throne, Jeremiah sees God on His throne, Ezekiel sees God on His throne, Daniel sees God on His throne, and the apostle John in a revelation sees God on His throne. And in the midst of our uncertain world, faced with insecurity and fear – in the midst of our own insecurities and fears – whatever God is calling us to, we’re to be reminded that He is on his throne. And He is high and exalted. For Isaiah, all looked bleak, but then he saw the Lord. When the outlook is bleak, try the up-look.”

Bishop Andrew told the congregation that he and they needed to have a new encounter with God; they needed to widen their vision of who God is. “This isn’t some small God who we can manage and boss about, and tell Him what to do. This is the ‘Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God almighty’ – the whole earth is full of his glory.” In Chapter 5, the Bishop said, Isaiah was finished, lost, undone. He has this new and deep conviction of his own sin before this great God and king, and [of] his total unworthiness. But what happens whenever we recognise total unworthiness? Grace comes.”

“Claire, you will feel inadequate, you will feel unworthy, you will feel ‘How on earth can we represent the one who is ‘Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty’ – the whole earth is full of his glory – and yet, grace comes. Every time we realise our unworthiness, grace comes, again and again and again. And grace came for Isaiah’s people and grace came for Isaiah and grace will come for you.

“Out of the abundance of the heart the lips speak, says Jesus, and whenever we realise our unworthiness, grace comes into our heart, and out of the abundance of our heart grace can speak.

“In our realisation of our unworthiness, grace comes; in our weakness, grace comes; in our inadequacy, grace comes; when we feel we’re at the end of our tether, grace comes. Why? Because it’s the nature of God. That’s what God does. That’s who he is. That’s what he did in the life of Isaiah and his people, and it’s what he’ll do in your life as well. And because God is enthroned in glory, he has not given up on his people; he has not given up on you and me. Claire, when you feel weak and inadequate and unworthy, grace comes. 2 Corinthians 12, verse 9: ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’”

Bishop Andrew said any deacon, priest or bishop realises their own sense of inadequacy and their own sense of unworthiness before our holy God, but the holiness of God uses us. “Charles Simeon was a great preacher in Victorian days. He said the three key words of ministry were humility, humility and humility. And this new encounter with God leads Isaiah to new service.

“Today, Claire, you’re being like Isaiah: you’re saying, ‘Lord, here am I. Send me.’ You’ve heard the call of God. You’ve responded to that call. You’ve allowed your heart and your mind to be transformed by the holiness and the grace of God, and now He says, ‘Who will go for me?’ And you say, ‘Here am I. Send me.’ And God, in His grace and in His mercy, will continue to equip you and bless you to go – to go for Him, to go for Him here in this group of parishes, to go for Him wherever He sends you to. God requires faithfulness and He will look after the outcome.

“For Isaiah there were tough times. And, in your ministry, you’ll know joy and trial, privilege and pain, fulfilment as well as frustrations, but the one who is enthroned in splendour will still be on the throne. It’s His church and His work, and He will equip you and journey with you, and grace will abound.”

After the ordination, the Covid-19 restrictions meant a change to the usual routine following significant occasions at St Eunan’s Cathedral. The prohibition on the serving of refreshments meant there was no reception in the nearby church hall. Instead, members of the congregation posed for physically distanced photographs with the new Deacon before heading their separate ways.



















Face coverings recommended for church services

The following statement has been issued by the Roman Catholic and Church of Ireland Primates of All Ireland, the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, and the President of the Methodist Church in Ireland:

At this time, both in Northern Ireland and in the Republic of Ireland, the governments have not formally made mandatory the wearing of face coverings at services of worship. This is, in part, due to the fact that as churches we are committed to maintaining 2 metre physical distancing between household groups and strict adherence to all government guidance on hand hygiene, cleaning, ventilation, etc.

It, however, remains our responsibility to ensure that our services of worship are safe places for all who join with us. It has become increasingly clear that the wearing of face coverings, in conjunction with hand washing etc., is likely to reduce the spread of coronavirus, thus helping to protect others. Their use is therefore one way in which we can evidence protection for the most vulnerable, support for our health workers, and practical love for our neighbours.

Following further recent consultations with public health authorities, we join with Christian church leaders all over this island in formally recommending and encouraging the use of face coverings at all services of worship, along with the ongoing maintenance of 2 metre physical distancing, from Sunday 30th August 2020, and earlier if practicable.

We understand that some people are exempted from the wearing of face coverings, as outlined in the two jurisdictions.

We also recognise that whilst it may not be appropriate for those who are leading from the front during worship, including preaching, to wear face coverings, they should at all times continue to maintain at least 2 metre physical distancing from one another, and 4 metre physical distancing from the front row of the congregation.

The Most Revd Eamon Martin
Roman Catholic Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland

The Most Revd John McDowell
Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland

The Rt Revd Dr David Bruce
Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland

The Revd Dr Tom McKnight
President of the Methodist Church in Ireland 

Advice on exemptions from the wearing of face coverings is available as follows:

Northern Ireland

Republic of Ireland

Bishops’ Appeal responds to humanitarian crisis in Beirut

On Tuesday 4th August, a massive explosion ripped through Beirut, killing 157 people, injuring 5,000, damaging 50% of the buildings and leaving 300,000 people homeless.

This disaster happened at a time when the whole country was already on its knees due to its worst financial crisis in decades and its struggles to contain a rapidly increasing coronavirus outbreak.

Added to this, Lebanon has taken in 1.5 million refugees since war erupted in neighbouring Syria in 2011. Syrian refugees make up 30% of the country’s population, the highest per capita concentration of refugees in the world.

Bishops’ Appeal has long supported Christian Aid and Tearfund partners in Beirut, in their work with vulnerable communities, not least people living with disabilities, people who are refugees, people who have or are exposed to gender-based violence, and people in need of basic humanitarian assistance such as food and shelter.

Already in April of this year, Christian Aid partner Basmeh & Zeitooneh (Smile & Olive) reported that they had spoken to families who at that early stage (of lockdown) were already reporting having no food, not even bread in their homes. Basmeh & Zeitooneh now reports: “Now, the food crisis will deepen further. The grain stores in the port are completely destroyed. The port is the entry way for Lebanon’s grain imports; they import 90% of their grain for the staple Lebanese bread.”

Bishops’ Appeal has already funded the provision of emergency supplies and increased food and hygiene parcels for people who were destitute because they lost their casual labour jobs during lockdown.

Now, as Christian Aid and Tearfund partners assess the damage and the needs, Bishops’ Appeal extends the opportunity to all parishes and individuals who wish to contribute to these vital efforts to do so via Bishops’ Appeal.

Donations can be made online at or sent to Bishops’ Appeal, Beirut Response, Church of Ireland House, Church Avenue, Rathmines, Dublin, D6.

Tearfund church partners in the Beirut ask for our continuous prayers, saying: “Eyes on the Lord, hand to the plough, with faith that He will guide us to safe shores.”

Thank you for your support.

Lydia Monds
Education Advisor
c/o Church of Ireland Bishops’ Appeal
Church of Ireland House
Church Avenue
Dublin 6
D06 CF67

Applause for political ‘giant’ who “made peace visible for others”

There was spontaneous applause outside St Eugene’s Cathedral, this afternoon, as the remains of the Nobel peace laureate, John Hume, were placed into a hearse following his Requiem Mass in Londonderry. Onlookers outside the church railings began clapping, surprising members of the Hume family and other mourners, who turned to those applauding and signalled their appreciation for the gesture.

The Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Rt Rev Andrew Forster, joined the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Armagh, the Most Rev Eamon Martin, the Bishop of Derry, Most Rev Dr Donal McKeown and Rev Canon Dinny McGettigan at the front of the cathedral for a service that was broadcast live on television and online.

Attendance in church was restricted to around one hundred mourners because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The mourners were led by Mr Hume’s widow, Pat, and four of their five children. Their eldest son, Aidan, who lives in Massachusetts, did not fly home because of the COVID-19 travel restrictions and followed the funeral online instead.

Among the political leaders present at the Mass were the Irish President Michael D Higgins, the Secretary of State, Brandon Lewis, First Minister Arlene Foster, Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill, Taoiseach Micheál Martin and the Republic’s Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney. The Queen was represented by the Lord-Lieutenant of the City of Londonderry, Dr Angela Garvey.

Others in attendance included the current SDLP leader, Colum Eastwood, former leaders Mark Durkan, Alasdair McDonnell and Baroness Ritchie, Alliance leader Naomi Long, former Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson and the PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne.

Bishop McKeown read out messages from dignitaries including the Pope, the Prime Minister, the Dalai Lama and former US President Bill Clinton.

Boris Johnson said the world had lost “a giant of a politician” whose unending determination and courage had paved the way for peace. Northern Ireland was a safer, stronger and better place because of what Mr Hume did, the Prime Minister said.

President Clinton described John Hume as Ireland’s Martin Luther King and said his chosen weapons were “an unshakeable commitment to nonviolence, persistence, kindness, and love”.

A message shared on behalf of Pope Francis praised Mr Hume’s “untiring efforts to promote dialogue, reconciliation and peace among the people of Northern Ireland”, while the Dalai Lama said his fellow Nobel laureate’s message about peace and non-violence in the resolution of conflict would long survive him.

U2 singer Bono also sent a message. “We were looking for a giant and found a man whose life made all our lives bigger,” he wrote. “We were looking for a great leader and found a great servant – we found John Hume.”

Mr Hume’s son, John, delivered a moving eulogy which drew applause from the congregation. He provoked laughter when recalling his father’s famous sweet tooth and expressed pride in his father’s achievements.

“If dad were here today, in the fullness of his health, witnessing the current tensions in the world, he wouldn’t waste the opportunity to say a few words. He’d talk about our common humanity, the need to respect diversity and difference, to protect and deepen democracy, to value education, and to place non-violence at the absolute centre.

“He might also stress the right to a living wage and a roof over your head, to decent healthcare and education.”

In his homily, Fr Paul Farren compared Mr Hume to the Good Samaritan, who had “crossed the road” to help someone whom he regarded as a neighbour and friend.

“We should never underestimate how difficult it was for John to cross the road and do what was intensely unpopular for the greater good,” Fr Farren said. “Even in the darkest moments, when people would have been forgiven for having no hope, John made peace visible for others.

Fr Farren said John Hume never lost faith in peace and never lost faith in his ability to convince others that peace was the only way. “If ever you want to see a man who gave his life for his country, and his health, that man is John Hume,” he said, “and the world knows it.”

Fr Farren also referred to Mr Hume’s political achievements which, the priest said, had saved many lives. “There are people alive today who would not be alive but for John Hume’s vision and work. And it could be any one of us.”

Mr Hume – who was a founder member and former leader of the SDLP, former Foyle MP and Northern Ireland MEP – died on Monday at the age of 83. He was laid to rest in Derry’s City Cemetery in a simple wicker casket.



Church leaders pay tribute to late Nobel peace laureate John Hume

The Church of Ireland Primate, Most Rev John McDowell, and the Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Rt Rev Andrew Forster, have expressed condolences following the death of the former SDLP leader and Nobel peace laureate, John Hume. Archbishop McDowell said Mr Hume would be remembered for his unambiguous dedication to peaceful means while Bishop Forster described Mr Hume as “one of the giants of modern Irish history”.

Archbishop McDowell’s statement in full:

“Firstly, I would like to extend my heartfelt sympathies and prayers to John Hume’s wife, Pat, and to the wider family.  For many people, even looking on at a distance, Pat’s care for John, especially over the period of his last illness, was exemplary and inspiring.

“John Hume will be remembered not only as a significant politician in Ireland but also for his unambiguous dedication to making political change happen by purely peaceful means.  Because of the manner of his approach, this required enormous patience and sympathetic understanding and those of us who are the beneficiaries of his legacy can only regret his passing while, at the same time, being thankful for his gargantuan efforts in the cause of peace and good relations.

“Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.”

Bishop Forster’s statement in full:

“I am deeply saddened to learn of the death of the Nobel peace laureate, John Hume – one of the giants of modern Irish history.

“John achieved what many people had thought impossible by plotting a course through the previously uncharted waters of peace in Northern Ireland. He mapped out a route which addressed what he called “the totality of relationships in these islands”: between Unionists and Nationalists; north and south; Britain and Ireland. The approach he prescribed gave rise to our modern peace process.

“Those of us who grew up during the Troubles recognise that Northern Ireland is a better place now because of the courage and commitment of people like John Hume. We owe him and them an enormous debt for what they achieved on our behalf. We would now honour John best by completing that quest to build a better society and a peace that endures.

“I offer my sincere condolences to John’s devoted wife, Pat, and to their five children, and assure the family that they are to the fore in my prayers at this very sad time.”

The Archbishop of Dublin, the Most Revd Dr Michael Jackson, has also paid tribute to Mr Hume:
“During turbulent and troubled times, John Hume put his shoulder to the wheel in the service of dialogue and peace,” Archbishop Jackson said.
“He did so for people right across Ireland who lived in fear of the present and in hope of a brighter future.
“His legacy of painstaking dialogue is recognised internationally and was honoured in his lifetime by the joint award with Lord David Trimble of the Nobel Peace Prize. The fruit of his legacy remains the Good Friday – Belfast Agreement.
“We honour his memory, give thanks for his courage and pray for all members of his family.”


Restoration work to start next month on Raphoe Cathedral

Work on the long-awaited restoration of St Eunan’s Cathedral in Raphoe is to begin next month following the appointment of the construction firm, J.A. Gamble and Co Ltd, as the main contractor for the project.

Details were finalised at a meeting last week between the Dean of Raphoe, Very Rev Arthur Barrett, members of the Cathedral’s Select Vestry, architect Karl Pedersen of Mullarkey Pedersen Architects and Richard Gamble of J.A. Gamble & Co Ltd.

“I am delighted that we are now about to start these major renovation works to our historic Cathedral church,” Dean Barrett said. “This has been a long time coming. The Select Vestry have been planning these restoration works for a number of years and a huge amount of work has already taken place, especially in fund-raising for the project.”

The improvement work was originally meant to begin last April but the project fell behind schedule as the Covid-19 outbreak forced the closure of churches throughout Ireland. A number of fundraising events for St Eunan’s also fell victim to the pandemic, including a concert in St Columb’s Cathedral in Londonderry, a Bible-reading marathon in Raphoe Cathedral itself, and various smaller fundraisers.

However, last month’s announcement of an €80,000 grant from the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht allowed the Raphoe Cathedral Restoration Project to get ‘back on track’ – albeit slightly behind schedule.

“We are so very grateful to the people of Raphoe,” Dean Barrett said, “and to so many other people and organisations who have very generously supported our fund-raising campaigns. The recent award of an €80,000 grant from the Historic Structures Fund and the Built Heritage Investment Scheme – administered through Donegal County Council – is a wonderful boost to all of our efforts, and has enabled us to start the works straight away.

“The plan is that between early August and the end of the year, the whole roof of the church will be replaced; the top of the Cathedral tower will be repaired; stonework, timbers and leadwork will all be restored, and significant electrical work will be carried out to the interior of the church.

“For fourteen hundred years,” Dean Arthur said, “Christians have been coming to this site to pray. The present church, itself, is over 800 years old. If we’re to preserve worship on this ancient and historic site, then this restoration work is absolutely essential. The restoration project is challenging, in the current financial climate, but I have been delighted by the response. I thank parishioners for their patience and generosity, and for their commitment to St Eunan’s Cathedral. And I thank the wider community, too, for their support for the project.

“The scale and ambition of the project have undoubtedly stretched us as a parish,” the Dean said, “but I feel a sense of privilege, too, that we have been able to contribute in such a meaningful way to Christian worship in Raphoe and to write our own chapter in the history of St Eunan’s Cathedral. To God be the glory.”

The photo below shows: (front, l-r): Richard Gamble (J.A. Gamble and Co. Ltd. – Main Contractors), Karl Pedersen (Mullarkey Pedersen Architects) Very Reverend Arthur Barrett (Dean of Raphoe);  (rear, l-r): Renee Goudie and Jim King (Raphoe Cathedral Select Vestry); not in photo – Geoffrey Devenney (Raphoe Cathedral Select Vestry).