Author: Erin Smith

A Statement of Tribute to Her Majesty The Queen from the Archbishop of Armagh & Primate of All Ireland, The Most Revd John McDowell

“Queen Elizabeth II, like her father, did not pass her childhood in any certain expectation of the Crown. But already we know her well …”

‘Those words were written by Winston Churchill on hearing of the death of Queen Elizabeth’s father, King George VI. If the old statesman could claim that the young Queen was well known to her people then, how much more can we say so now, who have watched and admired as her steady hand, her searching eyes and her warm smile graced so many occasions of great significance in the life of the United Kingdom.

‘All deaths are inevitable, but few are as unimaginable as that of Queen Elizabeth II. She has been on the throne and the stage of public life longer than any person, living or dead. The burden of such a life was rarely visible except when she chose to share her feelings about a particular event or “annus horribilis” with a sympathetic public. Mostly when she spoke it was to draw attention to others.

‘She reigned at a time when monarchy was under unparalleled and unforgiving scrutiny, often accompanied by searing comment. It was with the support of the late Duke of Edinburgh that she weathered the storms with unfailing dignity and cheerfulness. Can anyone doubt that the loss of her “liegeman of life and limb” after over sixty years of love and friendship was perhaps the greatest sorrow Queen Elizabeth ever faced in her long and eventful life?

‘For all who met her, it was clear that she was interested in people from all backgrounds and that she respected them. In the privacy of their meetings she also shared the riches of her incomparable experience of public affairs with 15 Prime Ministers. Her many visits to Northern Ireland were evidence of her awareness that she had been crowned Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and her conscientiousness in living out that role

‘I was privileged to be there when, on her Diamond Jubilee visit to Enniskillen, she walked the twenty yards from the Church of Ireland Cathedral of St Macartin and into St Michael’s Roman Catholic church. Barely a hundred paces, but a walk which covered countless miles in the long and unfinished journey of peace on these islands.

‘Her affection for Ireland as a whole was clear for all to see during the memorable State Visit to the Republic of Ireland in 2011, and her speech at the State Banquet ranks in political foresight and Christian conviction with the Golden Speech which Queen Elizabeth I made to the House of Commons in 1601. That in the past “we would have done things differently or not done them at all” and that “we should bow to the past but not be bound by it” have been little gems of hope to many peacemakers in the following years. That they came from someone who had felt the tragedy of Ireland so close to hand and who had lived through the uncertainties of a World War, when the outcome was often far from clear, gave her words an unchallengeable authority.

‘We thank God for the life of Queen Elizabeth II, for her faithfulness to Him and to her calling, from which we have gained so much. To finish with some words from the first Elizabeth’s Golden Speech but which find an echo in the life of Queen Elizabeth II, “… and we do confess that we passed not so much to be a Queen, as to be a Queen of such subjects … for whom we would willingly lose our life, ere see such to perish. I bless God that he hath never given me this fault or fear; for he knows best, whether ever fear possessed me, for all my dangers; I know it is his gift; and not to hide his glory, I say it”.

‘The prayers of the people of the Church of Ireland are with the Queen’s family and all who were closest to her. May they know the presence of God very near to them.’

God save the King

Statement from the Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Rt Rev Andrew Forster, following the death of Her Majesty The Queen

This is a moment of profound sadness for all of us in the Diocese of Derry and Raphoe, who have held Her Majesty The Queen in our hearts and prayers, in many cases for the whole of our lives.

Queen Elizabeth’s reign has been unprecedented in its longevity. On her 21st birthday, long before many of us were born, the young Princess Elizabeth pledged that her whole life – whether it be long or short – would be devoted to our service. She was faithful to that promise throughout the 70 years of her reign.

While no one could question her commitment to her people, she displayed equal fidelity to an even greater responsibility – her divine calling. Seventy years ago, on the eve of her coronation, she asked that God would give her wisdom and strength to carry out the solemn promises she would be making, and prayed that she would faithfully serve Him and her people all the days of her life.

Those prayers were answered in abundance. Who of us can doubt that the words from Matthew’s Gospel have not already been said: ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Lord.’?

Our prayers are with the King, the Queen Consort, and all the Royal Family.

God save The King.

New Rector and New ‘PM’ in one day in Donemana

Tuesday 6th September was a momentous day in Donemana, according to the local Rural Dean, Rev Canon Paul Whittaker. It was a day on which the local Church of Ireland Parish of Donagheady got a new Rector and a new Prime Minister, he said.

The new incumbent – in Donemana, not in Downing Street – is Rev. Capt. Richard Beadle, who was instituted by the Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Rt Rev Andrew Forster, at a service in St James’ Church on Tuesday evening. The new Rector’s wife, Pauline, was in church for the service but the couple’s three children, who study in England, were unable to be there. Bishop Andrew said the congregation’s prayers were with the Beadle children.

Members of the Manorhamilton Group of Parishes, in the Diocese of Kilmore, which Rev Beadle had overseen as Bishop’s Curate since his ordination in September 2017, made the long journey to Donemana for the institution. The new incumbent paid tribute to his immediate predecessor, Rev Dr Robin Stockitt – who retired just over a year ago – for all he had done to build up the parish.

The preacher, the Archdeacon of Ardagh, Venerable Hazel Hicks, caught the congregation’s attention very quickly when she likened ministry – for parishioners as well as clergy – to the ‘hokey-pokey’. The children’s song always finished with the words, ‘Put your whole self in’, Archdeacon Hicks said, and it reminded her of the instruction from the apostle Paul, in the first reading, from Romans Chapter 12: ‘Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship.’ “To present or offer our bodies,” the Archdeacon said, “is St Paul’s way of saying to put your whole self in.”

Some of his new parishioners would be wondering, the preacher surmised, what the new Rector was going to be like; how long he would preach for; whether he could work with older people or young people; what were the things he was going to change?

“But maybe those are not the questions we should be asking,” Archdeacon Hicks said. “Maybe we should be asking what plans has God for Richard? And what plans has God for this parish? Reverend Richard, and all of you in the congregation, need to put your whole selves in to serve God in this place. And I can assure you that Richard will do just that, in serving God here, but he can’t do it on his own, because God has given Richard gifts, but none of us has all the gifts for ministry.”

The preacher urged the people of Donemana to work with their new Rector to serve God. Paul tells us, she said, that in His grace, God has given us certain gifts for doing things well (Romans 12:6): prophesy, teaching, encouraging, giving, leading, showing kindness to others. “Ask yourself tonight, ‘What gift has God given me?’ And how can you use that gift to serve Him here, or in your parish, wherever that is?” Archdeacon Hicks asked those present to use their gifts wholeheartedly, to serve God in everything that they did: “Put your whole self in.”

Earlier in the service, Bishop Andrew said it was his great pleasure to welcome the congregation to a special and important service in the life of the Parish of Donagheady and in its distinguished history. It was, he said, a special night for Richard and Pauline, and their family, as they took a new step of faith and of service in Donemana. The Bishop welcomed clergy from the Presbyterian, Roman Catholic and Methodist Churches who were in St James’s for the service.

Bishop Andrew acknowledged how difficult it was for Richard and Pauline to leave the people they had served faithfully and loved diligently, in Manorhamilton, but said he was glad that Donemana was where God had called Richard to be in the next phase of his ministry.

The arrangements for Tuesday’s service were made by Canon Whittaker, who assisted the Bishop during the worship, along with the Archdeacon of Derry, Ven. Robert Miller, Diocesan Registrar, Rev Canon David Crooks, and Bishop’s Chaplain Rev Carmen Hayes. The readings were delivered by Rev Albert Dawson from Manorhamilton Group of Parishes and by the Donagheady Parish treasurer, Mrs Heather Hamilton. Music was provided by the St James’ Church choir, directed by Mrs Rhonda Dunn, and by the church organist, Mrs Jane Kee.

After the service, the congregation made their way to the nearby hall for refreshments and speeches. Welcoming the new Church of Ireland incumbent, the local Presbyterian minister, Rev Dr Seth Wright, assured Rev Beadle that he wasn’t coming to a “rural backwater”: local farmers were rearing lamb for export to France and beef that would end as far away as China; the people of Donagheady and Donemana were warm and welcoming, he said.

The Roman Catholic Parish Priest, Fr Eamon McDevitt, said there were a lot of positive things happening in the village, and he invited the new Rector to come to the local Men’s Shed to see the great work that was being done there to tackle mental ill health.

The Methodist minister, Rev Marlene Skuce, assured the new incumbent that there was also great craic to be had in Donemana. There was healing power in Dennet Valley, she said, a real sense of community and a real sense of joy.

The Rector’s Churchwarden, Freddie Brown, said they had known within 10 minutes of meeting him that Rev Richard was the right person for Donagheady. “At times I thought, ‘Didn’t we nominators do well?’ Then I thought to myself, ‘No we didn’t. God knew many years ago that Richard would be sitting there tonight, and we were just the messengers.’”Rev Beadle thanked the clergy from other Churches for attending his institution, as well as those former parishioners of his who had travelled all the way to Donemana for the service. The new rector said he would be building on the work of the 14 previous rectors of Donagheady, “each one bringing different skills and different gifts, in different times and different circumstances, each seeking to serve God and the people here. And my prayer is that I’ll be able to follow that line, seeking to serve God and you, and I would ask you to pray for me as I will seek to pray for you.”

Leckpatrick MU celebrates 90th birthday

The Mothers’ Union was described, this week, as “the backbone” and “the heartbeat” of those parishes in which it has members. The tribute came from Bishop Andrew Forster during a sermon in St Patrick’s Church in Leckpatrick, on Monday 5th September, which marked the 90th anniversary of Leckpatrick and Dunnalong Mothers’ Union.

The extent of local members’ service to MU was highlighted by the presentation of long service awards by the organisation’s Diocesan President, Jacqui Armstrong. In total, the recipients had chalked up a combined total of 471 years’ membership. Among them was local stalwart Sylvia Downey who was honoured for her 45 years’ service.

This evening’s service was led by the Rector of Leckpatrick and Dunnalong, Rev Canon Paul Whittaker, and the Derg Valley choir – for whom this was their first post-lockdown performance – provided music.

Bishop Andrew told the congregation that despite his late mother’s decades-long membership of MU, he had never fully appreciated its work until as an adult he visited Africa and saw at first-hand how contributions from Northern Ireland had helped to lift families from poverty. He praised the work done by branches to help grieving families in their own communities and congratulated them on their response to the cost-of-living crisis.

The told Bishop MU members in the congregation that they, like he, were followers of Christ who wanted to make a difference. “Today, we say ‘Thank you’ to those who 90 years ago and down through those decades have made a difference as the backbone and the heart of these parishes because of their membership of Mothers’ Union; who have made a difference in what it means to be in fellowship with Christian believers; who have made a difference to those struggling in the darkest times of life; who have made a difference across the world for women and for their families; and how you will continue to make a difference in the small things and in the big things because we follow the one who changes water into wine; we follow the one who makes life different because he is Jesus and he is our saviour.”

After the service, the congregation enjoyed supper in the church hall where Mrs Downey cut a magnificent cake baked for this evening’s occasion. Kaye Nesbitt, who is a Central Services Unit Coordinator with Mothers’ Union Ireland, shared greetings from the organisation’s All Ireland President, June Butler. “The life of this branch has endured with the Lord’s help for a wonderful 90 years,” Mrs Butler wrote, “and will continue to do so…Many congratulations and I wish you God’s richest blessings for the future.”

Sun comes out for Dungloe Group services

There was an unexpectedly glorious conclusion to Bishop Andrew Forster’s visit to the Dungloe group of parishes on Sunday 4th September after a day which had begun unpromisingly – with torrential wind and rain and a ‘Status Orange’ weather warning – ended in a sun-kissed outdoor service, including worship and hymns, at the ‘abandoned church’ beneath Mount Errigal.

On the way to Dungloe, the Bishop had been forced to take a detour after part of the road was flooded at Glenswilly, following heavy rainfall. Amazingly, blue skies greeted him on his arrival at St Crone’s Church in Dungloe where the Bishop’s Curate-in-Charge of the Gweedore, Carrickfinn and Templecrone group, Rev Liz Fitzgerald, was waiting with members of all three parishes.

The 11am service in Dungloe was one of two that the two clergy were to take part in, in the space of four and a half hours. Bishop Andrew blessed a new entranceway at St Crone’s Church which had been completed over a year ago but whose dedication was delayed by the Covid lockdown.

People’s Churchwarden Stephen Barrett explained that the project had involved the provision of an access-for-all walkway, steps, a landing and internal flooring. Members of the congregation joined the Bishop outside the church for the formal dedication , which took place beside an inscribed stone that had served for 75 years as the step at the church door.

When the congregation moved inside again, the Bishop also dedicated new communion cups and a set of new linens for the church (the latter had been donated on her family’s behalf by Dorothy Quinn ((née Hanlon)) in memory of her late father, Richard).

During the service, Rev Fitzgerald asked those present to pray for parts of the world that were war-torn or had been affected by floods.

A few hours later, at 3pm, some of the same parishioners joined members of the Dunlewey community at the old Dunlewey Church of Ireland building, between Errigal and the Poisoned Glen, where a new set of gates was dedicated in an outdoor service which took place in brilliant sunshine.

At both services – the dedication of a new entranceway in Dungloe and the dedication of new gates in Dunlewey – Bishop Andrew used the symbolism gates as a theme. In both locations, he prayed that the entranceways would be “broad enough to welcome everyone”, but narrow enough to “keep out envy, keep out sin, keep out all that can disrupt the family of God from serving God in the way that He calls us to.”

Church leaders call for action on cost-of-living crisis

With projections for the autumn pointing to a worsening situation for many households across the island of Ireland, as a result of the unfolding cost of living crisis particularly for those who are already vulnerable and living in poverty, the leaders of Ireland’s main churches have said that they are deeply concerned by what they are seeing on the ground.

The Church Leaders’ statement in full is as follows:

“The unfolding cost of living crisis is affecting many households, across the island of Ireland, but particularly those who were already vulnerable and living in poverty. Projections for the autumn point to the situation worsening while too many people are already struggling to afford essentials like food and fuel and are in real danger of losing their homes, health or lives.

“As leaders of Churches with a presence across the island we are deeply concerned by what we are seeing on the ground, with the increasing energy and food prices disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable, often leaving people with impossible choices to make, missing meals, and falling into arrears on bills.

“We are also deeply concerned regarding the government response in both jurisdictions, in meeting immediate needs and also in relation to longer term strategy. In Northern Ireland, the Good Friday Belfast Agreement created a statutory requirement for the Northern Ireland Executive to produce an anti–poverty strategy on the basis of objective need. Almost 25 years later and this has never been agreed or produced. Likewise, in Ireland a cross–party anti–poverty strategy is badly needed to address issues in a comprehensive and effective manner.

“We want to join our voices with many others, calling for more practical support to be delivered urgently through direct government initiatives in both jurisdictions and also via grassroots charity and community partnerships. This must go hand in hand with a longer term refocusing of government policies to deliver real and meaningful social justice and eliminate poverty across this island.

“Followers of Christ have always been called to serve the poor, not just through acts of charity, though these continue every day in ways large and small, but through the pursuit of justice and mercy. It is our shared vocation to witness to Christ and to protect the dignity of those made in God’s image, and so we are compelled to speak up in this moment, out of concern and in hope, for the good and flourishing of everyone in our communities.”

The Rt Revd Andrew Forster
President of the Irish Council of Churches

The Rt Revd Dr John Kirkpatrick
Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland

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

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

The Revd David Nixon
President of the Methodist Church in Ireland

(Note: the Church Leaders Group comprises the Church of Ireland and Roman Catholic Primates of All Ireland, the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, the President of the Methodist Church in Ireland, and the President of the Irish Council of Churches.)

St Lugadius’ Church celebrates 400th anniversary

“What a wonderful place,” the Archdeacon of Raphoe said, this afternoon, in St Lugadius’ Church in Lifford, “what a blessing that this house has stood for 400 years, and that people have found God’s heart here and been transformed by the word of God and by the Holy Spirit here.” 

Venerable David Huss was preaching at a special service celebrating the 400th anniversary of St Lugadius’ Church, which is named after one of the twelve who accompanied St Columba to the Scottish island of Iona, almost 1,500 years ago. “How enthusiastic we should be not only to preserve it,” Archdeacon Huss said, “but to enjoy it and to attend it.”

The present church was built in 1621, and, sadly, the coronavirus pandemic thwarted plans to mark the anniversary last year, 400 years after its construction. Today, though, parishioners and friends celebrated the achievement in style, with a service led by the Rural Dean, Rev Canon David Crooks, assisted by Canon John Deane and Archdeacon Huss, and refreshments – and a special cake – afterwards, in the nearby Old Courthouse Building.      

Archdeacon Huss chose two themes for his sermon: a wholesome heritage and a firm foundation. St Lugadius’ Church – which was funded through the generous bequest of Sir Richard Hansard and his wife – was begun around 1621 and is one of only a few churches in Ulster still standing from that period. “This evening,” the Archdeacon said, “we give thanks for that vision, 400 years ago, that a house of worship would be built, that the children of God would have a place to come and offer their prayers and praises to His holy name, to hear His word and to receive the sacraments.”

St Lugadius’ Church was a place of memories, the preacher said, a place of mission, a place that pointed to something greater. “Church buildings serve as signposts. They stand in a country area, or an urban area, as a pointer to greater realities. That is why it is so important that we work to maintain the structure itself as well as the life that takes place within it.” 

It was natural, on occasions such as today, Archdeacon Huss said, for people’s thoughts to turn to the future. “Perhaps we find it easier to celebrate the glories of the past than to be confident of what lies ahead,” he said, “because we’re at a time of change and [at] something of a turning point in society. If we even try to guess what the next 400 years hold it would be impossible; even the next 40 will almost certainly bring ongoing rapid change.”

The preacher suggested, though, that we could derive strength from Christ’s words in Matthew 7. “’Everyone who hears these words of mine and does them will be like the wise man who built his house on the rock…Everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.’ He’s talking about firm foundations.

“And so, with our lives as Christian individuals and as the Christian Church, as we seek to build into the future and as we seek to navigate all that lies ahead, we need solid ground on which to stand and on which to build. What exactly is the firm foundation which Our Lord speaks of here in Matthew 7? Well, he says, ‘Whoever hears these words of mine and does them will be building on a firm foundation.’ The foundation is the Lord and His word, and putting it into practice. It is so tempting, in a time of change, to take comfort in tradition or to go running after innovation; to trust old things just because they’re old, or to look for new things just because they’re new. It’s so tempting to say, ‘I was brought up with this so it must be right’; or to say, ‘Everyone today is saying this, so that must be right.’ But, no, we don’t try simply to be traditional, we don’t try simply to be trendy, we try to be true to Christ. We build on His words.”

There was still so much, Archdeacon Huss said, that the word of God had to say to today’s world. “So many of the things that people value today – even those who have turned away from the faith – they will value freedom, equality, progress and kindness. These are Christian ideas. And even when our friends want to enjoy those fruits of Christianity without the roots of Christianity, they give us an opportunity to point them back to the foundation.” A church that is going to be fit for the 21st century, the Archdeacon said, would be a church that taught like Jesus did: not clinging to tradition, not rushing to innovation, but taking the ancient ways and applying them to new problems.

African friendship rekindled in Donegal

The Donegal Parish Grouping’s friendship with a diocese in East Africa has been rekindled this week with a visit by the Bishop of Yei in South Sudan, the Rt Revd Levi Marandulu, and his wife Agnes.

The couple were in Laghey Parish Church on Tuesday evening to meet members of the Donegal, Killymard, Lough Eske and Laghey parishes. The visitors joined the local Rector, Venerable David Huss, for an evening of worship and hymn singing, and Bishop Levi gave a talk and slide presentation to update the congregation on the work being done by his clergy to spread God’s word in one of Africa’s newest sovereign states.

The Donegal parishes have had links with the Diocese of Yei since 2005 when a group travelled to Africa to visit churches and schools in the region. One of the people on that visit, Killymard parishioner Robert Ellis, shared his memories of the trip during Tuesday’s service.

Since then, the region they visited has gained independence (from Sudan) and experienced a brutal civil war, with ongoing violence by armed groups within its borders. Bishop Levi, who was ordained last year, said caring for displaced people was one of the many big challenges facing his diocese.

Despite the financial challenges which also confront them, Bishop Levi and his pastors have been busy spreading the Word, developing youth and family ministry, building churches and schools, and providing health care. He recalled one recent service at which he confirmed more than 600 young people, and praised the work being done by Mothers’ Union in Yei.   

The Marandulus’ visit is part of a post-Lambeth Conference visit to link churches which has been arranged with the help of Church Mission Society Ireland. The couple called in to the Mustard Seed Project in Donegal Town to see the outreach work being done there and also called to Glebe Primary School to meet its newly-appointed principal.Bishop Levi and Mama Agnes said they enjoyed meeting people during their walkabouts in the town with Archdeacon Huss and his wife, Bev. The Bishop said his two most immediate impressions of Ireland were of how green the country was and of how friendly its “smiling” people were. 

15th Lambeth Conference begins

Bishop Andrew Forster is one of the hundreds of bishops from across the 165 countries of the Anglican Communion who’ve gathered in Canterbury to pray, study scripture, discuss global challenges and seek God’s direction for the decade ahead.

The Lambeth Conference 2022, which runs until August 7, is only the 15th such global gathering of Anglican bishops in 155 years. The event was postponed from 2020 because of the Covid 19 pandemic and takes place against a backdrop of global uncertainty, including the climate emergency, war and poverty.

Taking as their theme “God’s Church for God’s World”, the bishops will spend time praying and studying the Bible together (focussing on the book of 1 Peter) as well as discussing major challenges faced by their global communities – ranging from climate change and scientific progress to Christian unity and inter-faith relations.

In a letter to delegates, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, described the conference as an “historic occasion” and spoke of Jesus’ call for his followers to be united. The Archbishop wrote: “Two years ago, we could hardly have believed the course of world events that was about to unfold with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This, along with the ongoing challenges like the climate emergency, war and conflict in many countries and the huge inequalities of our world, continue to have a deep impact on us all.

“As we gather for the 15th Lambeth Conference, the privilege and responsibility of meeting feels even more significant.

“The business of this conference is to discern the Holy Spirit’s directing in what it means to be ‘God’s Church for God’s World’, as we seek to ‘walk, listen and witness together.’

“We are living at a time where there is much to fragment and divide the world – but Christ calls his Church to be one in witness and in worship so that Jesus is presented to the world.”

Archbishop Welby went on to describe how 1 Peter sets out how the early Christian Church faced “suffering, despair, joy, exile and alienation”, adding: “As we embark upon our journey together in 2022, we pray for God’s Holy Spirit to guide us, as we seek God’s will for the global witness of the Anglican Communion in the decade ahead.”

In his foreword to the Conference guide, Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, wrote: “The drumbeat to our conference is ‘walking, listening and witnessing together’.

“These words reflect perhaps Christ’s greatest challenge to the Church: to be one; to live as a united body, in service to Christ and to one another.

“As we gather in 2022, may we commit ourselves to this significant moment as an opportunity to listen to one another, learn from the diversity of our communities and church experiences and seek to serve one another.”

The postponement in 2020 enabled the Conference plans to be reimagined as a three-phase process, designed to create lasting outcomes pboth for the churches of the Communion and for the communities they serve.

The period since 2020 has been a time of “walking together” when bishops have been meeting together for online conversations about themes relevant to the Conference.

The phase of “listening together” is the full event in Canterbury which began yesterday. For the first time there will also be a further phase of “witnessing together” – when outcomes from the bishop’s conversations are shared, and further action taken around the Anglican Communion.

‘It’s Madness out there’

The torrential rain relented in Portglenone, early this afternoon, and the heavy clouds above Our Lady of Bethlehem Abbey parted just in time for the Derry and Raphoe BBQ to proceed as planned at this year’s Summer Madness festival in County Antrim.

Bishop Andrew Forster was ‘mine host’ for the occasion, which brought back happy memories for him and his wife, Heather, of past Summer Madness festivals they’d visited with their children years before they came to Derry and Raphoe.

Summer Madness is described by its organisers as Ireland’s “premier Christian youth festival”. Around two dozen young people from the diocese made their way to this year’s event to celebrate, connect and explore the significance of faith in their culture and community. They were accompanied by a raft of adult leaders who were there to ensure that their charges remained safe and got the maximum possible enjoyment from the experience.

The Diocesan Youth Officer, Claire Hinchliff, was on barbecue duty with Bishop Andrew, along with Pauline Beadle, whose husband was recently appointed as the new Rector of Donagheady. Pauline said after the appointment that she loved cooking and that her happy place could be any kitchen. Today she had to make do with a tent and a grill.

For the Bishop, it was a chance to show off the culinary skills he’d first revealed at the ‘Can’t Cook, Won’t Cook’ event in Macosquin a couple of months earlier. He was assisted by Claire, who looked after the technical side of the barbecue; the chairman of Derry and Raphoe Youth, Rev Peter Ferguson; and the Diocesan Children’s Officer, Kirsty McCartney, who brought her niece in tow.  

The smoke from the grills wafted above nearby tents drawing the hungry Derry and Raphoe contingent, and assorted visitors from other dioceses, to the Derry and Raphoe tents in short order. There were no complaints as the young people feasted on burgers, chicken kebabs and sausages – even Simon Henry, the Church of Ireland’s National Youth Officer, fetched up to sample the fare and pronounce the barbecue a big success.