It was a full house as members of the Dioceses of Meath and Kildare gathered for their Diocesan Synod. This year it took place in the beautiful surroundings of Wilson’s Hospital School, near Mullingar on Saturday 26 September.
Bishop Pat Storey addressed a wide range of issues in her address, at what was her second Synod as Diocesan Bishop. She talked about how life in a Diocese or Parish was like any relationship. Coming with the recognition that people have different views on issues, both big and small, she talked of the importance of respectful listening to one another. This was true whether the issues were of major importance to the Church of Ireland as a whole or more local.
During the past year a conversation has begun in the diocese about how we can continue to thrive, both now and in the future. This has involved clergy, lay readers and leaders and the Diocesan Council. The ‘conversation’ is an opportunity to reflect on our purpose, whether as a diocese or in our parishes and how we can successfully meet the challenges and opportunities in a rapidly changing Ireland.
Out of this conversation three priorities have emerged for the Dioceses in the coming three years. These include:
- To develop discipleship that includes owned personal faith and commitment to service.
- To develop different models of ministry that include training and encouraging leaders.
- To deliver practical action in our local communities delivered across the diocese.
In her address Bishop Storey announced the setting up of a Bishop’s Council. This is a small group made up of a range of office holders in the diocese. It will work on developing practical action on each of the priorities.
Bishop Storey also talked of the need to respond to the human needs emerging with the refugee crisis in Ireland. One of the new reception centres will be in Monasterevin, in the dioceses. She talked of how the Church of Ireland is currently working to respond to the crisis – finding a way to do the right thing in the right way.
Speeches throughout the day saw thoughtful reflection not only on church life but also on other issues. This included matters such as education and the human challenges faced by others, including those in the midst of the refugee crisis. Synod members had an opportunity to share in a Holy Communion Service before having lunch together.
The Diocesan Synod provided an opportunity for the Bishop and members to recognize and record appreciation for the work of all those who maintain church life. This was noted by many and illustrated in the words of one speech, appreciating the work of so many committed people “who keep worship alive … and keep the church alive”. This included work of clergy, office-holders, parishioners and so many people who give their time with a good heart.
Bishop Pat and Synod members had an opportunity to welcome Emma Rothwell as Wilson’s Hospital School Chaplain & Diocesan Youth And Children’s Officer as well as Rev Trevor Holmes who was recently priested. They also expressed their thanks and good wishes to Ruth Jackson and Canon Peter Rutherford who are moving to new parishes in other diocese.
During the afternoon session Synod members heard how the diocesan ‘Good For the Sole’ project has already raised €14,000 – well on the way to the target of €25,000. One of the effects of leprosy is often damage to a person’s feet. The disease causes them to lose sensitivity in this area, making the individual more prone to injury. The Leprosy Mission has been involved in developing a cost-effective sandal that can protect the wearer from such harm. Reaching the target will buy 10,000 pairs of sandals in Karigiri in Tamil Nadu, India. The diocesan project is in partnership with The Leprosy Mission Ireland and Bishops’ Appeal,
One of the most encouraging aspects of the Synod was a sense of preparing for the future with hope and creativity. This was well illustrated by the words of Albert Thompson, in seconding the Report of Diocesan Council, who talked of this being a “time to invest resources … to maintain our Christian church and enhance ministry”.