Reverend Chris Matchett has been appointed Priest-in-Charge of the new Parish Group of Clondevaddock and Mevagh, in north Donegal. The 58-year-old former accountant, who was born and grew up in Londonderry, served as Rector of St Mark’s Church in Newtownards for 12 years and, prior to that, spent seven years as the incumbent of Magheracross (Ballinamallard), in the Diocese of Clogher. He also served two curacies in Down and Dromore.

It is a “bitter-sweet feeling”, he says, to be leaving St Mark’s, where he and his family enjoyed many happy years, but he says he is looking forward to seeing what God has in store for them in this new chapter in their lives and ministry. “We see God’s hand in this,” Rev’d Matchett says. “We didn’t go looking for the move. We weren’t even aware of the vacancy in Clondevaddock, but it was mentioned to us and we thought it could be the right move for us.”

Rev’d Matchett and his wife, Ali, have three grown-up children – the last of whom sat her A-Levels recently – and the couple will be moving to Clondevaddock and Mevagh without their children. “It’s a new start for us, but then it’s a new start for everyone in the new parish group. It’ll be the first time I’ll have been responsible for more than one church. I’ll be looking after four, now [the Church of Christ the Redeemer in Rosnakill; All Saints, Portsalon; Leatbeg Parish Church; and Holy Trinity Church in Carrigart].

“Obviously, we’ve been to the parishes. We’ve enjoyed the stunning scenery. We’ve met some of the people. We’ve been greeted with warmth, openness and generosity. You go there believing it’s the right time and the right place. Ministry in north Donegal will certainly be very different to ministry in Newtownards, but Newtownards was very different to Ballinamallard. There’ll be similarities and there’ll be differences. The task, though – what God calls us to do – never changes. I’ll try to be in listening mode and I’m looking forward to seeing what God has planned for us.”

Ali says she will always be thankful for the warmth shown to their family during their years in Newtownards. “We’re grateful for the time our children spent there as teenagers growing up as a church family. It’ll be hard to leave St Mark’s but the fact that the last of our children is leaving home now suggests, perhaps, that it’s the right time for a move.”    

Rev’d Matchett says leaving St Mark’s and its parishioners will be a huge wrench. “We went to Newtownards looking forward to the opportunity, waiting to find out what plans God had for us, hoping people would welcome us. And that’s what we encountered. People welcomed us into their church family and showed us tremendous generosity.” 

Bishop Andrew Forster says Rev’d Matchett’s decision to accept the position of Priest-in-Charge of Clondevaddock and Mevagh is wonderful news for the Diocese of Derry and Raphoe and for the parishioners in north Donegal. “This is an exciting time for Chris and Ali, and for everyone in Clondevaddock and Mevagh. I trust that his new parishioners will welcome Chris and Ali with their customary warmth and generosity, and that they’ll offer him their ongoing support and prayers.”