‘Godly Play’ Introduced to Children’s Work in Cork, Cloyne and Ross

The Children’s Ministry Group in Cork, Cloyne and Ross organised a very enjoyable Workshop on ‘Godly Play’ on Saturday, 14th April.  It was led by the excellent Cora O’Sullivan.  Cora O’Farrell  is a Godly Play trainer with Godly Play Ireland. She uses Godly Play in her work with student teachers at the Institute of Education, Dublin City University.

Cora O’Sullivan tells a well known Bible story using the Godly Play approach

 Over 30 attendees were spellbound by the Cora’s demonstration of the Godly Play approach which can help children to explore their faith through story. Godly Play technique, based on Montessori teaching principles,  gently teaches religious language while enhancing the children’s spiritual experience though wonder and play.

Some of those who attended the Godly Play workshop hosted by the Children’s Ministry Group in Cork, Cloyne and Ross.

Some of those who attended the Godly Play workshop hosted by the Children’s Ministry Group in Cork, Cloyne and Ross.

Posted in Children's Ministry, Children's Work, Continuing Ministerial Education, Diocese, Education

Saint Luke’s Charity, Cork Addresses theme of Innovation in Dementia Care at Sixth Annual Conference

On Thursday 11th April, the 6th Annual Conference – Dementia: Innovations in Care – hosted by Saint Luke’s Charity, Cork, and organised by the Northridge House Education and Research Centre at the Charity, took place at the Radisson Hotel, Little Island, Cork. It was attended by more than 150 delegates from the acute, disability and residential care sectors along with a range of 20 suppliers to the sector exhibiting their products to their customers.

The opening address was given by the President of Saint Luke’s Charity, Dr Paul Colton, Bishop of Cork.  As Bishop Colton noted in his welcoming remarks, in times of fast pacing change, responses are made to address changing needs and this was reflected in the title of the Conference, Innovations in Dementia Care.

Some of the participants at the St Luke’s Charity, Cork 6th Annual Conference. Photo: Gerard McCarthy

Once again, a host of very experienced presenters challenged the assumptions many of us hold about the experience of those with Dementia and how to care for them.

Dr Ciara Macglade talked about the changes over time in our understanding of capacity and consent within a healthcare setting. She summed up by telling delegates that capacity and consent is about ‘context, and choices and consequences, its about maximising freedom and minimising risk’.

Dr. Chris Luke talked about the improvements being introduced in A & E departments in Cork to allow the person with dementia as stress free a journey as possible ending with the simple message of how important it is to simply be kind, to be still and to listen instead of the usual knee jerk feeling that something must be done. He said:

The most important thing you can do is to hold the persons hand for 20 seconds. The transfer of warmth, the touching of a fellow human is astonishingly powerful.

Dr Chris Luke

Prof Alice Coffey talked about the development of palliative care guidance documents for persons with dementia produced in conjunction with the Irish Hospice Foundation.

Bruce Pierce (Director of Education, St Luke’s),Prof Alice Coffey (University of Limerick), Dr Paul Colton (President St Luke’s Charity and Chairman of the Board of Directors Saint Luke’s Charity and Home) and Ms Mary Mannix (Bon Secours Care Village) pictured at St Luke’s Charity, 6th Annual Conference.

Keynote speaker Professor Jan Dewing asked participants to reject ‘staying the same’ and to examine their own cultures and to be brave and not to be afraid to change to make things better, try different approaches and do this with everyone on board, ignore the hierarchy and develop a flat structure approach to improving life for people with dementia. She challenged listeners to free up some energy, to allow creativity which in turn effects positive change.

She talked about the innovative work of the Donegal Person-Centred Project and how half way through the timescale with another 18 months to go they are witnessing real culture change and real benefits. She acknowledged that it wasn’t easy, required commitment at all levels but that it was worth it.

David O’Brien (CEO St Luke’s), Prof Alice Coffey (UL), Prof Jan Dewing (Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh) and Dr Paul Colton pictured at St Luke’s Charity, 6th Annual Conference.
Photo: Gerard McCarthy

After lunch presentations by St Luke’s own Celine O Shea on meaningful occupation for people with dementia along with Ms Mary Mannix CNM from the Mercy Hospital on improvements in there for people with dementia highlighted the growing awareness for attention and knowledge in this area.

Finally a refreshing HIQA Inspector for the disability Sector, Ms. Florence Farrelly, reassured the sector that whilst regulations must be understood and implemented, that her main focus was that clients in the disability sector were looked after with love and kindness and quality existences.

The masterclasses which followed the conference the next day continued the practical learning, discussion and debate.

Fellow delegates shared their enthusiasm for the Conference describing it as ‘inspiring’, ‘really beneficial’ and an opportunity for ‘networking’ and ‘sharing experience’.


Posted in Bishop, Care of the Older Person, Chaplaincies, Charities in the Diocese, Church in Society, Community Involvement, Dementia Care, Education, Northridge House Education and Research Centre, Saint Luke's Charity

Iconic Cork Landmark – Saint Anne’s, Shandon – Plays Key Part in Romantic Marriage Proposal

On Saturday 14th April, the world famous bells of St. Anne’s, Shandon in Cork rang in celebration for the engagement of Ian Johnston and Niamh Murray.  Ian had the very romantic idea of surprising his girlfriend with the words ‘Niamh, will you marry me?’ displayed on a banner held up by family and friends at the top of St. Anne’s Tower.  The church is visible from the couple’s apartment in Lavitts Quay so at an agreed time Ian told Niamh to look over to the church with binoculars.

A marriage proposal on the tower of Saint Anne’s Church, Shandon, Cork (Photo: Darren Johnston)

Niamh read the sign and looking back to Ian saw him down on one knee with the ring that he has carried around waiting for a glorious sunny day to propose.  He thankfully got fed up waiting for the sun and so, as of Saturday 14th April, the happy couple are engaged.

The priest-in-charge of Saint Anne’s, Shandon, the Reverend Sarah Marry, said:

It was such a lovely idea we were delighted to facilitate them.  The family were so excited if a little windswept!  All of us in the parish wish them every blessing and send them hearty congratulations!

The happy couple! (Photo: Darren Johnston)

Posted in Bells, Cork, Engagement, People from Cork

Former Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church and Mrs Chillingworth Visit the Bishop of Cork and Mrs Colton

During their Holy Week stay in Cork, Cloyne and Ross, where the former Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Right Reverend David Chillingworth, was preaching at Services in the Parishes of Douglas Union with Frankfield, he and Mrs Alison Chillingworth, visited the Bishop of Cork, Dr Paul Colton and Mrs Susan Colton at The Bishop’s Palace, Cork.

Bishop and Mrs Chillingworth were accompanied by their host, the Venerable Adrian Wilkinson, Archdeacon of Cork, Cloyne and Ross.

From l-r: Bishop David Chillingworth, Bishop Paul Colton and Archdeacon Adrian Wilkinson.

When Bishop Chillingworth was Rector of Seagoe in the Diocese of Dromore, Bishop Colton was rector of Castleknock and Mulhuddart with Clonsilla in the Diocese of Dublin.  Together they forged parochial links in the 1990s to strengthen bonds between north and south in the Church of Ireland and, in that period of Ireland’s history, to nurture greater understanding.

During Bishop David and Mrs Chillingworth’s visit to Cork they also traced the family’s links to Cork.  The connection with Douglas goes back through Bishop Chillingworth’s father’s family.  His grandfather was Rector of Carrigtwohill, and of Corkbeg and Inch.  The family graves of previous generations are in the churchyard in Douglas.

Bishop Paul Colton and Bishop David Chillingworth.

Posted in Anglicanism, Archdeacon, Bishop, Diocese, Making Connections, Partnership

Former Primus of Scottish Episcopal Church Preaches at Annual Diocesan Chrism Eucharist in Cork, Cloyne and Ross

The annual Diocesan Chrism Eucharist took place on Maundy Thursday, 29th March in the Cathedral Church of Saint Fachtna, Rosscarbery, County Cork.  The preacher this year was the Right Reverend David Chillingworth, former Bishop of St Andrew’s, Dunkeld and Dunblane, and former Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church.  Bishop Chillingworth was visiting the Diocese to preach at the Holy Week Services in the Parishes of Douglas Union with Frankfield.

The Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross, the former Primnus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, with the Cathedral Chapter, and other clergy before the Service.

As ever there was a very full turnout of lay church workers from Cork, Cloyne and Ross, clergy from the Diocese, visitors on holiday, and people from the parishes.  The Bishop, the Right Reverend Dr Paul Colton, presided.

During the Service the oils for use in the pastoral, liturgical and sacramental life of the Diocese for the year the ahead were blessed and consecrated.  Lay church workers and clergy alike renewed their commitment to ministry.

The gifts for the celebration of the Eucharist were brought forward by the Diocesan Secretary (Billy Skuse), the Assistant Secretary (Susan Perrott), and the Diocesan Youth Officer (Hilda Connolly).  The oils were brought forward by those who are involved in chaplaincy ministry in the Diocese as well as in the training of lay and ordained people: the Reverend Anne Skuse (Chaplain, Bandon Grammar School), Canon Dr Daniel Nuzum (Healthcare Chaplain and Clinical Pastoral Education Supervisor), and the Reverend Bruce Pierce (Director of Education at Northridge House Education and Research Centre where, among many courses, CPE is delivered in the Diocese).  Peter Stobart, Director of Music at St Fin Barre’s Cathedral, Cork and Director of the Diocesan Church Music Scheme, was the organist.

Afterwards everyone remained in the narthex of the Cathedral where a light lunch was served.  The it was homeward bound to begin the liturgies of the Paschal Triduum on Maundy Thursday evening.

At the conclusion of the Service – the readers and clergy of Cork, Cloyne and Ross with Bishop Colton and Bishop Chillingworth in the narthex of the Cathedral, and lunch is ready to be served!

Posted in Bishop, Cathedral, Chrism Eucharist, Church Services, Clergy, Diocesan Youth Officer, Diocese, Healthcare Ministry, Holy Week, Lay Ministry, Maundy Thursday, People from the Diocese

Bishop Colton Reflects on the Women in the Easter Story in his Easter Sermon 2018

Easter Day, 2018

Sermon preached by the Right Reverend Dr Paul Colton,

Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross

In St Fin Barre’s Cathedral, Cork

on Sunday, 1st April 2018

Some stories are timeless, and their message endures.  They cross boundaries of time and place, of culture and social construct.   Such is the case with Good Friday and Easter, which, together, reveal supremely to us the love of God.    ‘Sacrifice and love often go together. People who sacrifice their lives most often do so because of a greater love’, says Marcus Borg.  To drive home his point, from the 20th Century, he mentions Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther King, and Oscar Romero. Years ago too, in Auschwitz, Maximilian Kolbe, the Polish Franciscan, volunteered to take the place of someone who was a total stranger to him – Franciszek Gajowniczek – who had been sentenced to die by starvation.  This week we might think of the selfless sacrifice of the French Gendarme, Arnaud Beltrame. He swapped places with a terrorist gunman in a supermarket siege near Carcassonne. Sacrifice.

These days – Good Friday and Easter – crucifixion and resurrection – are days which speak to us supremely of love and sacrifice, and of transformation, transformation which is both personal and communal.  As St Paul said: ‘I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.’ (Galatians 2.19-20) This is why Jesus invites us to take up our cross and to follow him (Matthew 16.24)  These days herald the triumph that came out of apparent defeat, evil conquered for good, and large stones – barriers to truth, vision, insight and new beginnings – rolled away and dismantled, and horizons broadened unexpectedly.

The timelessness of these events speak every day, and every Easter, into our own time, situation, human opportunity and predicament. The story is timeless, but do we always see its import in our own time and place?  So it came about that, this year, I found my eye and my mind drawn to the woman in the text of today’s Gospel, Mary Magdalene, and through her, to the women around Jesus. Why? You might ask.

Well today is the 100th anniversary of the Royal Air Force, founded as an entity independent from the British army and the Royal Navy.  No country had founded a separate air force before then. I watched a television programme earlier this week tracing this history, and I hadn’t realised that on the very same day 100 years ago, 1st April 1918, the Women’s Royal Air Force was founded. In time, the RAF, became the first branch of the armed forces in which women received equal pay.

This set me thinking about our own four year visual war memorial project here – putting faces on the names – and on how disproportionately few of the images feature women: yes there are some nurses, some family groups, wives, and children.  100 years ago as they gathered here for Easter 1918, March 31st – a day earlier that year – they did not know, what we now know, that there was seven and half months of that hell on earth still to go. I think of how the women suffered too and lived too with the aftermath, for a lifetime, not only of memories, but with the consequences of that war.  

Home Rule had not been the only political issue before the war. ‘A grateful British government surprised by what women could do when asked [in the War], rewarded them with the vote in 1918’ (Vivien Kelly, 1996).  Meeting here that Easter the people knew that The Representation of People Act 1918 had been passed allowing some women, only some, to vote in general elections. It still wasn’t full equality. The requirement that voters own property was removed for men and the age for men was 21.  Women 30 and over could vote but either they themselves had to won property worth £5 or be married to a husband who had property worth £5. Not full equality, but nonetheless, this year is an important centenary for us all, and for women, in particular.  

One hundred years on, women and women’s rights are very much still an issue.  In a news report only yesterday evening there was a call for the women of the Easter Rising of 1916 to be properly recognised.  Since we were here last Easter, in October last year, 2017, the #metoo movement spread virally as a hashtag on social media to help demonstrate the widespread prevalence of sexual assault and harassment, especially in the workplace.  More recently, our former President, Mary McAleese, speaking at the Voices of Faith Conference in Rome to mark International Women’s Day, turned the spotlight on the place of women in her own Church; but we would do well not to be complacent in our own church, and to be vigilant about the inclusion of women.  As I listened to her I felt challenged to ask if there are enduring inequalities in our own church. Perhaps we need to look afresh at aspects of our own inclusion of women in the life and decision-making of the Church.  

What of all this, on Easter Day?  The Easter message is for now. It is for all people. Like the news of the birth of the saviour, it is ‘news of great joy for all people…’ (Luke 2.10), not just some of them.  

And why, here and now, is the Church so slow at times to show the transforming love of the risen Christ? If the resurrection of Jesus Christ, if Easter is indeed, about transformation, since it is about a living faith in a living Jesus, we bring it to bear on real contemporary concerns, such as gender equality in society and in the churches, as well as many other issues as well.   

For example, why did it, in fact, take people so long to give votes to women?  Eleven years after women were given a vote in general elections, in 1929, the Standing Committee of the Church of Ireland announced that it was so divided about whether or not women should be allowed to be members of diocesan synods or General Synod that it could not make a decision.  That didn’t happen until 1952. And it took until 1990 to ordain women as priests. Why were Christians not to the fore in changing things sooner?’ I ask myself. And the same could be said of many issues in their day? Why did it take so long to abolish slavery? And so on. The answer lies in part, in the fact that religious books, including the Bible, without interpretation, are a blunt instrument.  And we sometimes fail to read it all, as surely we must, through the prism, of Jesus, his life and his teaching, for it is he who is ‘the Word’ of God. ‘The word became flesh and lived for awhile among us.’ (John 1.14)

So, reading the timeless Easter story again in this centenary year of votes for women, I found myself drawn, this time especially, to the name of Mary Magdalene and her experience of Jesus. The Communion Motet by Giovanni Bassano, which the choir will sing later, picks up this curiosity (not by arrangement with the Director of Music, but by coincidence): Dic nobis Maria quid vidista in via? ‘Tell us, Mary, what did you see on the way?’

As is so often the case with the biblical witness on great issues, as I say, without scrutiny, and interpretation, there appear to be mixed messages.  Jesus himself, as a Jewish boy and man, was brought up, as many of us were too, to see that God created woman as ‘a helper’ for the man. And, at that, she was the one who gave him the forbidden fruit and led him astray.  It was a patriarchal world. Women were the property of men. They belonged to their fathers until they were married, at which point they belonged to their husbands. Even in the ten commandments, women were included in a list of property: You shall not covet your neighbour’s, house, you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife; or male or female slave; or ox; or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour.’  This is the world in which Jesus grew up. Flavius Josephus, the Romano-Jewish historian summed it all up when he said ‘According to the Torah, the woman is inferior to the man in everything.’ (Contra Apion II) And much of this, in a patriarchal Christendom was passed down through the ages. Thomas Aquinas, for example, in the 13th Century said ‘As regards the individual nature, woman is defective and misbegotten,…’  It is the worldview of far too many still.

But what of Jesus, the living Word, who lived for awhile among us, what about him and women?  In today’s Gospel we read: ‘Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb.’ (John 20.1) John has her going alone.  The other Gospel writers have other women with her. But it was the women – the women – who are there.

Seeing the empty tomb Mary Magdalene does not understand it, and her instinct is to go to the men and to tell them.  Peter came and looked. We are not told what his reaction was. It was the other disciple who ‘saw and believed.’ But it was Mary who was first to encounter the risen Christ.

During Holy Week I’ve been reading the very popular book, now available in many languages, by the Spanish theologian, José Pagola, called ‘Jesus: an historical approximation.’  He points out that during the three years of Jesus’ public ministry, ‘the women around Jesus generally belonged to the lowest sector of society, and Jesus healed many of them, including Mary of Magdala.’ Most of those women around Jesus had ‘no male protector: defenceless widows, repudiated wives and other single women without resources, without respect and of ill repute… Jesus accepted them all.’ (Pagola, 212)  ‘The presence of women at the table with Jesus was part of the scandal’.

We cannot go in to all the examples here this morning, but suffice to say, as Pagola does, that women see in Jesus a different attitude.  In simple natural ways Jesus defines the significance of women (Pagola, 214). He exposes the double standards of society’s attitudes towards women..  ‘Jesus sees women in a different way, and they can tell.’ (Pagola, 216). Women are presented as models of faith; ‘women followed Jesus from Galilee to Jerusalem, and did not abandon him at the moment of his execution.’ (Pagola, 224)  They stayed. It’s no wonder, before Mary Magdalene had met Jesus she had been a ‘ … a broken woman, … finding Jesus meant starting to live.’ (Pagola, 228)

And this strong bond, this very natural and transformative revolution in attitudes and approach is the background to the intimate encounter in the garden that first Easter morning.  She was crying in the garden: ‘’They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.’ (John 20.13) She turns and sees a man there. It must be the gardener. No! It is not.  He calls her ‘Mary!’ ‘Teacher’ she responds. And so it was that ‘Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord’; and she told them that he had said these things to her.’

This, and every Easter, every day even, as we take up our cross and follow the risen Christ in response to his invitation, we ask ourselves ‘what does this timeless story mean for us, here and now, in our time?’  That question gives us more than enough to think about, and to work through, as we try to be faithful to Jesus, the Word of God, in our day; lots of food for thought and challenge before we meet here again next Easter to hear this timeless story again.


Posted in Bishop, Church Services, Easter, Sermons

Bishop Paul Colton Makes Very Personal Good Friday Visit

The little village of Ballinacurra, on the outskirts of Midleton, County Cork, was Bishop Paul Colton’s first port of call on Good Friday, 30th March.  Ballinacurra was, indeed, once a port.  Until 1962 it was the port for the town of Midleton, a loading and unloading point for centuries for coal. flax, iron, slate and timber.  Timber was, in fact, the reason for Bishop Colton’s visit to the Old Post Office in Ballinacurra, the home of John Ahern,  good friend of Bishop Colton’s late father, George Colton, who died in 2012.

John Ahern is President of the Cork Chapter of the Irish Woodturners’ Guild to which George Colton also belonged and where he forged many friendships. Such was the connection that after George’s death in 2012, his wife Kay (the Bishop’s mother) was elected to honorary membership of the Cork Chapter of the Irish Woodturners’ Guild.

In his day, George Colton, spent hours and hours making things for other people.  His work is to be found in homes throughout Ireland, most often given as gifts, and in churches too: altar crosses, candles holders, paschal candle stands, notice boards, shelves and stands for flowers, ewers and prayer books, as well as croziers for a few bishops.  He restored the handles on the bellows of organs and, in the case of, St Fin Barre’s Cathedral, Cork he turned the many wooden stands that ‘rope off’ parts of the cathedral as required.

The late George Colton in his own workshop

The Good Friday visit had a present day mission; to collect a new cross made by John Ahern, as a gift, in memory of George Colton, for the newly refurbished Chapel at Saint Luke’s Home, Cork.  John sourced wood from a disused vat at Irish Distillers (with its Midleton and Cork connections); a solid oak vat which dates to the same time as the founding of Saint Luke’s Home.

From this (note the staining on the inside of the timber from the vat)

To this.

Bishop Colton said that he found it very moving to be back in a woodturner’s workshop again.  ‘John Ahern’s workshop is full of history, and, of course, it reminded me of my own father’s workshop’, he said.  ‘The irony in all of this is, of course, that I myself was hopeless at woodwork.  To my father’s despair, the one exam I failed in my life, was woodwork.  I gave it up after one term in first year.’

Bishop Colton added:

Good Friday seemed like a good day to collect a cross for the new Chapel at St Luke’s Home.  When, in late 2011, my father was given between 12 and 20 weeks to live, he was cared for wonderfully at Saint Luke’s Home.  He would be thrilled to think that his friend John Ahern had made this cross, and I am so grateful to John.

Each evening of those last 18 weeks of my father’s life there was a little night cap – a drop of Jameson – his favourite tipple.  Because the timber John used is from the very old Irish Distiller’s vat, there is still a slight grain, in the wood, of the whiskey which was being stilled.  My father would have loved that unique quirk in this piece.  It speaks to me about the ordinariness of our humanity, incarnation and redemption caught up together.

President of the Cork Chapter of the Woodturners’ Guild – John Ahern – with the cross made in memory of his friend and fellow master craftsman, George Colton.


Posted in Bishop, Chaplaincies, Cork, Good Friday, People from Cork, People from the Diocese, Saint Luke's Charity, Saint Luke's Home