My dear friends,
I am immensely grateful to the many people who have been kind enough to offer good wishes on the fortieth anniversary of my ordination as a priest and the twentieth anniversary of my consecration as a bishop, both of which fell within a few weeks of each other this year – the original dates were 29 June (St Peter’s Day) 1976 and 14 September (Holy Cross Day) 1996 respectively. I am very appreciative of your kindness, and in particular of those who decided that the anniversaries should be celebrated by the wider Diocese and Church on Saturday 17 September.
It probably goes without saying that the forty years, let alone the twenty years, have passed very quickly indeed. But I would want to add that although those years and those ministries have inevitably been littered with failures, guilts, misjudgements, occasional weariness and certainly some sadnesses, these have been more than counterbalanced by times of great joy and fulfilment and, more particularly, the overriding sense that all Christian ministry is - from first to last - a huge privilege, and never simply “a job”. The privilege comes from the certainty that no Christian ministry ever belongs to the individual to whom it has been entrusted, but rather that all ministry is Christ’s ministry in and to the world, within which we are privileged to be called to take our place. And it is a ministry that we share, not only with Christ but with all his people, the whole Body of Christ. And it helps to know that even when we as individuals may make a mess of things, there is always that confidence that Christ will win out in the end.
As we think of the ministry of Christ in which we share, I have pleasure - on behalf of us all - in welcoming four clergy into new ministries within the diocese of Armagh. On 1 September, Iain Jamieson was instituted as Rector of Drogheda, Kilsaran and Ardee Unions. On 8 September, Graham Hare was ordained deacon to serve as deacon-intern in the Parish of St Mark’s Armagh. On 15th, William Orr was instituted Rector of St Mark’s Portadown, and on the following Sunday Peter Smith (who had served as a deacon in St Columba’s Portadown) was ordained priest in St Patrick’s Cathedral for the curacy of St Mark’s Armagh. Please pray for all of these servants of Jesus Christ as they seek to serve Him in the ministry with which they have been entrusted, a ministry which is Christ’s ministry and within which they have now been called to serve with Him.