Tributes were paid to the outgoing Diocesan President of Derry and Raphoe Mothers’ Union, Mary Good, as she presided over her last Diocesan Council meeting on Thursday evening.
Mrs Good will be succeeded as Diocesan President by Jacqui Armstrong, who’ll take over the reins of the organisation in the New Year.
Scores of women from branches across the diocese gathered in the Diocesan Centre in Londonderry for the last Council meeting of 2018. They saw their Diocesan Chaplain, Rev Canon Harold Given, announce that he, too, was stepping down from his position; the Bishop’s Curate-in-Charge of the Moville Group of Parishes, Rev Suzanne Cousins, will take over as chaplain in January. And Mrs Bertha Campbell is stepping down as Branch Treasurer. She’ll be replaced by Kaye Stewart from Convoy.
The Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Rt Rev Ken Good, told the women that during this Year of Encouragement in the diocese, he had been visiting all his clergy individually and sharing with them ten words about each of them – different words in every case – to encourage them in their ministry.
Bishop Good said he had written ten words about the Mothers’ Union, too. “The first word is ‘loyal’. There’s a kind of committed faithful loyalty. The second word is ‘influential’. You’re influential in your own homes, your own parishes and the dioceses. You’re influential in causes that you take on as well.
“Thirdly, you are ‘team-workers’. There is a co-operative, ‘team-work’ spirit at work even at a meeting like this. The fourth word – you are ‘supportive’: you support one another in fellowship. There’s something instructively supportive about the Mothers’ Union.
“Fifthly you are ‘prayerful’. All of this is done with a spiritual heart. Sixthly you are ‘caring’. You are compassionate, practical – and that’s seen in all sorts of projects, whether it’s the Contact Centre or in hospitals or with indoor members. The seventh word is ‘missional’. You are looking outwards always to what’s beyond – in the community or in the world.
“Eighthly you are ‘friendly’ – there’s a natural ‘at ease-ness’ among you, you are friendly and good-natured. Ninthly you are ‘enthusiastic’. I sense that tonight. There’s an ‘enthusiasm’ and ‘going for it’ and ‘wanting to get it done’. And tenthly, ‘fun’. You’re not afraid to have fun. There’s a light-heartedness, it’s not all heavy and solemn and serious.”
“You didn’t say we were beautiful,” Mrs Good reminded her husband – to laughter from the members. “My wifeis beautiful,” Bishop Ken added diplomatically.
Earlier in the proceedings, reports were read out by coordinators of the branch’s Action and Outreach, Finance and Central Services, Faith and Policy, and Fundraising and Communications units – Jennifer Given, Kaye Nesbitt, Jacqui Armstrong and Doreen Sidebottom respectively. The AFIA report was presented by Elizabeth Fielding and the MULOA report by Elsie Stewart.
Mrs Given shared details of what she called “a diocesan challenge” for next year – ‘A Girls’ Night Out’ – which will be held on Thursday 2nd May in Roe Valley Arts and Cultural Centre in Limavady. “We would encourage you to come along, but more importantly we would encourage you invite women, particularly young women, from your parishes – they don’t have to be Mothers’ Union members, in fact in some cases it’s really better if they’re not – to come along for an evening’s fun, food, fellowship and fashion.”
Mrs Good congratulated the Foyle Child Contact Centre on receiving the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. “It is the MBE of the Volunteer world,” she said, “and we in Mothers’ Union are so proud to be associated with the Foyle Child Contact Centre – they do amazing but sadly vital work”.
Mrs Good said the Branch’s themes from 2016 to 2018 were ‘Celebrating our Faith’, ‘Faith in Action’ and ‘In the Footsteps of Mary Sumner’. She put together a photographic display which shared some of the highlights of her three years as Diocesan President – including the visit of the MU World President and the All-Ireland President, diocesan Agape Meals and the MU Family Fun Day.
“When I think back over my time as Diocesan President my foremost reaction is one of thankfulness,” Mrs Good told the meeting. “At each event I was greeted by amazing women of all ages who worked so hard behind the scenes to make whatever it was we were doing a great success. Whether it was branch meeting, a Festival Service, a Worship Service, a sponsored walk or the Big Sing you showed up and in great numbers. I was so proud of Derry and Raphoe during our 130th year with all of you showing up. You showed up and made each event a blessed memory which I will carry with me forever.”
At the end of the Council meeting, formal gift presentations were made to Mrs Good on behalf of the branch members. She was also allowed to keep a tea cosy – modelled on her husband, Bishop Ken – which was made by a member of Garvagh MU, Bridget Begley.