The newly ordained priest, Rev Robert Wray, was introduced to parishioners of the Grouped Parishes of Ardara, Glencolumbkille, Glenties, Inniskeel and Lettermacaward on Friday evening as their new Bishop’s Curate.
The Service of Introduction, in St Conal’s Church in Portnoo, was led by the Rural Dean, Rev Canon Brian Russell, and presided over by the Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Rt Rev Ken Good. The clergy who took part included colleagues from the CCCMSP Group of Parishes in Londonderry, where Rev Wray had served his Deacon Internship.
Among the congregation were a former President of the Methodist Church, four local Roman Catholic priests, a Donegal Person of the Year and a local Mayor.
The sermon was preached the Archdeacon of Raphoe, Ven David Huss, who welcomed Rev Wray and his wife Karen to the Diocese of Raphoe. Archdeacon Huss said it was “an exciting moment, a daunting moment,” as the new Bishop’s Curate was about to be “launched as it were into this moment of ministry”.
Archdeacon Huss chose four words from the Old Testament reading as one of the themes for his sermon: ‘his face was radiant’. The phrase was used three times to describe Moses’ face after he came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of covenant law in his hands, having spoken to the Lord.
“The face of Moses wasn’t radiant,” the Preacher said, “because he’d been to the best beauty therapist, or because he’d used the latest multi-bladed Gillette razor or the finest male-grooming products that money can buy. No, the face of Moses was radiant – in fact we’re told right there at the end of that first paragraph – his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord. It was the light of God’s glory that made his servant’s face glow radiantly.”
Archdeacon Huss said light and dark were themes that ran all through the scripture. The Bible tells us that God is light. God’s first action at the beginning of Genesis was to create light – and there was light. “As we read there in John, Chapter 1, ‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.’” There was a lesson for all who are ordained, the Preacher said, and entrusted with the pastoral ministry of the Church: it is necessary that they should be much with God so that their faces were radiant and they would glow with Christ.
The Preacher invited the congregation – and the new Bishop’s Curate – to consider what parishioners really needed from the perfect minister. “Decisive leader, caring pastor, great organiser, interesting preacher – those are all very, very good and Robert will fulfil those. But there’s one thing above all which is needed: someone who’s been with the Lord and his face is radiant. There is a desperate need in a world of busyness with no direction, a world of activity without purpose, for someone who is steady, whose eyes are fixed on Jesus Christ and whose face is radiant because he’s spoken with the Lord.”
The Archdeacon told parishioners they were “going to get used to this face. You’re going to see this face up here in the pulpit. It will appear by your hospital bed. It’ll be there at the front, chairing a meeting, in a classroom giving assembly. His face will be there in your kitchen with a cup of tea in hand and passing time with you in pastoral work. So, may it be a face that stays radiant with the glory of God.”
Following the service, parishioners went in the darkness to the adjoining Parish Hall for supper and speeches.