Zambian ordinand on visit to the Dioceses of Cork, Cloyne and Ross

Carrigrohane Union of Parishes in the Diocese of Cork has been playing host to Geoffrey Banda, a second year ordinand from the Anglican Church in Zambia. Geoffrey’s visit was facilitated by Church Mission Society Ireland (CMSI) and particularly Mission Partners, Lyn and Revd Dr Keith Scott who are staff at St. John’s Anglican Seminary in Kitwe (Diocese of Northern Zambia) .

Geoffrey with CMSI Mission Partners Keith and Lyn Scott ,and seminary Principal, the Reverend Francis Mwansa

The visit was organised following a recent CMSI Mission Experience Team Abroad when members of Carrigrohane Union of Parishes were hosted by the Anglican Church in Kitwe in 2016.

Geoffrey arrived in Cork on 22nd November 2017. During his time in the diocese he has been involved in all aspects of parish ministry including pastoral visiting, liturgical services, community carol services, home communions, school assemblies, parish meetings, youth ministry, Messy Church, assisting in St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral, and many community projects.

Geoffrey Banda on a visit to Kinsale.

Geoffrey also attended a number of Diocesan events, and, on Wednesday 10th January, was received by the Bishop, Dr Paul Colton.

On a visit to The Palace, Cork where they were received by the Bishop were (l-r) the Reverend Robert Ferris and Geoffrey Banda, with Bishop Colton.

All those who have encountered Geoffrey’s ministry have been impressed by his sensitivity, his warmth and his faith. Whilst in Ireland he has been hosted by the Reverend Robert Ferris in Blarney. Robert commented:

It has been a pleasure hosting Geoffrey who very quickly settled into parish ministry in Blarney and each of his interactions with parishioners and the wider blarney community has been very natural. I have been very impressed with what Geoffrey has brought to us in the parish in terms of his personality, his teaching and his faith. I look forward to our continuing relationship with both Geoffrey and the Seminary in Zambia through our partnership with Keith and Lyn Scott.

Michael Kenning – a parishioner in Carrigrohane commented:

It has been a delight to have Geoffrey visiting us – I think most of us would agree that he already feels more like just part of the parish family than a Zambian ordinand on placement!

The remainder of Geoffrey’s placement includes a week in The Church of Ireland Theological Institute studying some of the classes which Irish Ordinands are taking, followed by a retreat at Glenstal Abbey, meetings with Bishops Appeal and CMSI and a further week of Parish ministry after which he returns to Zambia on 3rd February.

The final word goes to Geoffrey himself:

I have very much appreciated and thank everyone for all the care and welcome that I have received since I arrived in Ireland.  At the moment I am taking time to process all of the lessons learnt whilst here in Cork in lots of areas of life, ministry, culture and much more.

Posted in Anglicanism, Diocese, Five Marks of Mission, Making Connections, Parish News

West Cork clergyman will sing with choir in Carnegie Hall, New York

The Reverend John Ardis, Rector of Abbeystrewry Union of Parishes, in West Cork, who sings with the West Cork Choral Singers, will travel with the choir  to New York to sing on Monday next, 15th January in Carnegie Hall.  The choir has a very strong connection with Abbeystrewry Church in Skibbereen, County Cork.

The West Cork Choral Singers (WCCS) have been invited to perform in New York’s prestigious Carnegie Hall as part of a ‘choir of distinction.’ Under the musical directorship of Diana Llewellyn, the choir have been invited to participate in a performance of the music of Sir Karl Jenkins.

The West Cork Choral Singers performing recently in Abbeystrewry Church, Skibbereen, Co. Cork.

A spokesperson for Distinguished Concerts International New York City (DCINY) said the performance in the Isaac Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall will be all the more special because it is scheduled to take place on Martin Luther King Day and will feature the world premiere of a new large work by Sir Karl Jenkins.


The four-day trip includes two half-day rehearsals with choirs from 14 countries prior to the concert, which will feature a US première of Jenkins’ Sing! The Music was Given (based on a poem by Thomas Moore) plus The Armed Man.

Performing in this concert, as well as a huge musical learning experience, will also mean that the WCCS will be privileged to première ‘Sing! The Music was Given’ in Ireland at a later date.

There is, however, no such thing as a ‘free concert’. To defray the costs of the trip and performance, the choir will work very hard, as it always does, to attract local mentors and sponsorship.

The Rev. John Ardis reflects:

The West Cork Choral Singers has a strong connection to Abbeystrewry Church. The choir was formed originally to sing for a carols service in Abbeystrewry Church some twenty six years ago. Abbeystrewry Church has hosted many concerts featuring the choir over the years, so much so it is considered ‘home ground’. It is a pleasure for me to join with two other parishioners Mrs. Nuala Gibbons (a founder member) and Mrs Judy Naylor to sing at the world premiere of this fabulous piece of music in Carnegie Hall, and I am also looking forward to hearing the Irish premiere of this in Abbeystrewry Church some time this year!

The Reverend John Ardis

Posted in Clergy, News Release, People from Cork

The Cork Three Faiths Forum – 2018 Calendar Launched by the Lord Mayor of Cork

As New Year’s Eve approaches we think ahead to our new calendars.  Earlier this month, the Lord Mayor of Cork launched the Cork Three Faiths Forum 2018 Interfaith Calendar. Members of the Cork Three Faiths Forum were welcomed to the Lord Mayor’s Parlour at City Hall on Wednesday 14th December for the launch.

The Lord Mayor fo Cork, Cllr Tony Fitzgerald, launched the Cork Three Faiths Forum 2018 Calendar earlier this month.

The ​Cork Three Faiths Forum has been meeting since May 2016.  It ​brings together members of the three Abrahamic faiths – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – and seeks to create a space where people of faith can dialogue openly and respectfully, come to a better understanding of each other’s faith, and work together to enhance tolerance, cooperation and friendship in society.

This is the calendar:

You can download and print it here:

 Cork Three Faiths’ Forum Calendar


Posted in Church in Society, Community Involvement, Cork, Cork Three Faiths Forum, Diocese, Interfaith Dialogue, Lord Mayor of Cork

Bishop Paul Colton’s Sermon preached on Christmas Day 2017 in St Fin Barre’s Cathedral, Cork

Sermon preached by the Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross,

The Right Reverend Dr Paul Colton

in St Fin Barre’s Cathedral, Cork

on Christmas Day, 2017

But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see

—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people:

to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord.

(Luke 2.10 and 11)

These days, driving from Cork to Dublin, we’ve become used to the new motorways, M8 and M7.  Those of us of a certain age no longer see some of the landmarks of that journey.  Our  children, newcomers to these parts, or younger people, might never have seen them at all.   No longer do we drive through all those towns and villages that we once came to know so intimately, albeit latterly, in long lines of traffic, which we certainly don’t miss . The first town to be by-passed altogether was Cahir, and Cahir Castle in 1991.  For years afterwards my parents defiantly still drove in to Cahir because that’s where they took their first break: coffee at The Crock of Gold.  

Some landmarks we can still see from the new roads: such as Corran HIll in this County with its cross on top, the Curragh with its racecourse.  We still catch glimpses of some of the towns as we pass: Fermoy and Mitchelstown.  Some famous landmarks can still be seen, but you have to make an effort to look for them:  the Rock of Cashel, and St Brigid’s Cathedral, Kildare.  The new road also manifests for us some things we didn’t used to see from the old road: a glimpse of the tower of Rockwell College. But all the familiar landmarks are still there, even if we no longer see them in the ways we once did.

In the last two weeks, for the first time in years, in the course of my pastoral work, I had cause to have to leave the M7 at Port Laoise, and to drive along the County Laois section of the old road to Cork.  So many memories came flooding back: familiar places and pointers to the past.  A stretch of road where a friend died in a car accident.  Abbeyleix with its long street and picturesque buildings laden with history.  A long stretch of road with forestry either side.  The village of Durrow, with the café where we sometimes stopped, and its church beside the village green. A restaurant popular for breakfast, particularly for truck drivers and their helpers.  When I worked on delivery trucks for a long university summer we used to stop there.  A garage owned by a cousin’s husband.  That big village in a dip: Cullahill.  And onwards towards Urlingford where, pastoral work done, it was back to the new road.

Memories came flooding back, and I saw familiar things again, and some of them in a new way.  

The Christmas visit to church is little different.  We travel on an old familiar road and hear once more the resonances, and see the landmarks, of the Christmas story.

  • In the sixth month, the Angel Gabriel … Nazareth … a virgin engaged to a=man whose name was Joseph … Mary ‘ Greetings, favoured one, the Lord is with you.’ ‘DO not be afraid, Mary … you will conceive in your womb and bear a song and you will name him Jesus…’
  • In those days … a decree .. Emperor August … all the world should be registered … Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth … to Bethlehem.  While they were there the time came for her to deliver her child … she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manager, because there was no place for them in the inn.
  • There were shepherds in the fields . a multitude of the heavenly host praising God: ‘Glory to God…’  The shepherds said ‘Let us go now to Bethlehem …’
  • Wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews?  … ahead of them went the star … they saw the child with Mary his mother;and they knelt and paid him homage … they offered him gifts of hold, frankincense and myrrh …

What does it all mean?   The clues are already in these carefully constructed accounts of Matthew and Luke.  Saint John, influenced as he was by Jewish sources and Greek philosophy in a different community,  takes it all to another level, ‘In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, and the Word was God … What has come into being in him was life, and that life was the klight of all people.  The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it.  And the Word became flesh and lived among us; …’

Earlier this week, the RTE programme ‘Christmas Then and Now’ began with the presenter saying ‘Christmas is a time of nostalgia when we all dust off our childhood memories and delve into our past’.  Very true, but for adult Christians, Christmas has to go beyond hearing again the Christmas story as it was handed on to us in our childhood, at home, school or Sunday School.  For the Christmas story is told anew and the Gospel is proclaimed afresh in every generation, in a particular time and in a place; announced to all that is going on in that time and particular place, with all its opportunities and conundrums, hopes and fears.

Two surveys were conducted in England recently about traditional nativity plays.  One survey conducted by Netmums showed that  only one third of schools there opt for a traditional nativity play.    Others include (according to the report)  ‘…punk fairies, aliens, Elvis, lobsters, spacemen and even recycling bins, … and also … children dressed as ingredients in a Christmas lunch including carrots, sprouts.’  Can you imagine the indignity being a sprout?  The Church Times reports that one child was dressed as a ‘carrier bag’, and another as a ‘fried egg’, and yet another as a crew member of the Starship Enterprise.  There were adaptations too based on The Apprentice and Strictly Come Dancing: interesting!  

It seems that some churches are exploring it all in new ways. According to a report in this week’s Church Times, ‘the customer-service manager at Ecclesiastical Insurance, Helen Richards, said last week that churches were “getting more and more adventurous, more and more innovative ..”.  Ms Richards said: “We always get donkeys this time of year, with questions about whether it is OK for them to come into church. This year, we’ve actually had a request for advice on bringing camels into church, which is a first.’  Next year, Mr Dean?

However, the second survey for Families Online found that 77%, the vast majority, of parents, would prefer schools to return to telling the story in the traditional way.  The traditional way, of course, does not rule out new things, as we see year by year here in this Cathedral with, for example, the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols.  This year, we even had a beautiful new carol written and composed by our own Director of Music, Peter Stobart: A night full of promise.  ‘What a night, what a night, full of promise, what a night full of mystery, when the Lord was born.  What a star … What a fear of the Shepherds … Glory to the Christ Child, and Worship the King!’ It was new that the proceeds of sale – traditional CDs and online on iTunes – were shared with the Simon Community.

The familiar landmarks of the CHristmas story do not change.  The message does not change.  However, we are asked to wrestle, spiritually and intellectually with it all.  Each time we hear it we ask anew what does it all mean?  That’s why I was, and still am, rather taken with the title of a book published by the late Marcus Borg in 1995:  Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time. Every Christmas, in this familiar season, with its traditional ways, we meet Jesus again; but as we encounter the story again, anew, afresh, and in a different time and place, something may strike us, ‘for the first time.’

A friend asked me recently how come it was that, if Joseph and Mary had been warned by God in a dream not to go home the same way, but to escape to Egypt for the sake of their new baby, how come they didn’t warn everyone else as well so that the slaughter of the innocents could be avoided.  Good question, but only if you are seeing the Gospel accounts as historical fact, or treating them like the picture storybooks of our childhood.  Many find it difficult in adulthood to keep on believing, in part because we do not give them tools, or the courage, in the life of faith to read and engage with the scriptures in a fresh and critical way.

As grown-ups in the faith, we must realise that the Gospels are written through the lens of faith, after the passage of a long time.  In the familiar readings of Christmas time, we are not looking at the Jesus of history, but rather at the Christ of faith.  In other words, ‘[t]he Gospels are the products of communities’ of faith, experiencing and reflecting on what it all means.  ‘They tell us what [the] early Christian communities had come to believe about Jesus by the last third of the first century.’ (Borg)

This is especially true of these stories of the birth of Jesus – those who wrote them already knew about the crucifixion and resurrection, and so, inspired by the Spirit of God they were deliberately writing in a way to help others to believe and to understand; God-inspired spin-doctoring was going on, to help us, in faith, to understand what it all means: – ‘the Word made flesh’ – so that we would come to know this Jesus who is himself the Word.

This Christmas I want, therefore, to issue an invitation to every adult in the Diocese, to become a disciple, a learner, a student anew, and to keep asking ‘what does it all mean?’  ‘WHo is this Jesus who has left us with so many questions and debates? What can we say today about his activity and message?’ (Pagola, 22)

More than that I am happy to say that we now have approval from the Pontifical University in Maynooth, to deliver right here, throughout this Diocese, their Certificate in Christian Studies.  A certificate level course (NFQ level 7) that enables and empowers ordinary people of the Church  to explore these questions in an engaging and accessible way.  The course will begin in 2018.  As well as providing a toolkit to support personal discipleship, the course will also be a building block for all sorts of forms of ministry, lay and ordained.  

In our time and place there’s a lot to be done, in God’s name.  Motivated by the great commandment  – ‘Love God, Love your Neighbour’ -which Jesus gave to us,  there are injustices to be put right, inequalities still to be addressed, bridges to be built, hurts to be healed, love,  peace and solidarity to be offered.  The good news of Christmas needs to be shared and implemented all the year long; the good news that God is with us.  

The good news of great joy is worth sharing. This Christmas I want also to especially invite people in the Diocese to think about how you can share in the spreading of the good news.  I invite you all to find ways to share in the vocation and ministry of the angel – that messenger, and delegate from God who came to the shepherds on that hillside, the angel who said to them:

‘—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people:

to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord. (Luke 2.10 and 11)


‘A Night Full of Promise’ to which the Bishop referred in his sermon may be purchased online on iTunes, and the CDs can be found across Cork City including Golden Discs, Oasis, Liam Ruiséal, Pro Musica, as well as Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral shop.

All proceeds are shared between the Simon Community in Cork, and funds to support the work of the Cathedral Choir.


Posted in Bishop, Cathedral, Christmas, Church Music, Church Services, Sermons

Popular Live Crib in Carrigaline Parish sets the Scene for Christmas in Cork, Cloyne and Ross

The Live Crib ‘Road to Bethlehem’ which took place in St Mary’s Churchyard in Carrigaline, Co. Cork on 9th and 10th December was one of the many events in parishes around the United Dioceses of Cork, Cloyne and Ross which set the scene for Christmas which begins tomorrow evening, Christmas Eve, 24th December.

At the centre of this popular event was an engaging pageant telling the story of the birth of Jesus. On their way to the live crib, there were choirs and music groups singing in the church, a moving Christmas Village, and seasonal refreshments in the Parish Hall.  Animals in the crib included Billy the Donkey, Mother Sheep with twin Lambs and a 6 year old Turkey (!) plus an engaging Pageant telling the story of the birth of Jesus.

One of the large gatherings at one of the performances of the pageant

All the monies raised went to local charities: Cork Simon, St Vincent de Paul, and Charlie’s Equine Rescue.

The Rector, the Reverend Elaine Murray, keeps an eye on the sheep.

Billy the Donkey

Parishioner, John Andrew, has made a short video of parts of the weekend’s music and the Live Crib which you can see HERE.


Posted in Children's Ministry, Christmas, Church Music, Diocese, Live Crib, Parish News, Special Events

Joint Christmas Message from the Two Bishops of Cork

Catholic Diocese of Cork and Ross

Church of Ireland – Diocese of Cork, Cloyne and Ross

Joint Press Release 

Joint Christmas Message from the Bishops of Cork:

The Most Reverend Dr John Buckley and

the Right Reverend Dr Paul Colton

 Christmas 2017

As the season of Christmas approaches, we pray that God will bless the people of Cork during the forthcoming Feast and during the year ahead.    Christmas this year takes place against the backdrop of a threatened peace in so many parts of the world. The mass migration of our brothers and sisters, many of whom are Christian, from Syria, the plight of Rohingya refugees, the grave escalation in tensions with North Korea, and the increasing nervousness in relation to isolated but severe acts of terrorism throughout Europe and beyond serve as a reminder that our world still awaits the peace which the ‘Prince of Peace’ offers. This Christmas may we all have the gift of peace in our own hearts, homes, families and communities, and may it also serve as a reminder that we who profess faith in Christ have an obligation to work towards and for that peace.

Nearer to home, the past year has brought an ever-increasing awareness of the problem of homelessness in our society. As well as the plight of those who are forced to live on our streets, we think too of those who live in hostels and hotels, and those who are finding it impossible to pay the ever rising cost of rent. Given the plight of the Holy Family on that first Christmas night and their difficulty in finding accommodation, surely our celebration of Christmas must acknowledge those who, in our own time, are in the same situation?

In that regard, the people of Cork owe an enduring debt of gratitude to those who work tirelessly and selflessly in our City for the homeless and underprivileged. At this time, one thinks of SHARE, the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, Cork Simon Community and Cork Penny Dinners. There are many more who do what they can and more.

One happy feature of the Christmas season is that of family reunions. Given the large number of people who left Cork to find work in recent years, our airports, ferry ports, train stations and motorways will be very busy as people travel to celebrate the birth of Christ with their family.  We pray that all our families will experience the warmth and joy of the Christmas celebration.

As Bishops of Cork, we appeal once again to all believers to keep Christ at the heart of Christmas. For the believer, the holiday is only happy because of the birth of the Saviour.  Christmas literally means the feast of Christ.  Let’s keep Christ in Christmas. This Christmas may be a time when people might reflect on and rediscover that Christmas offers us more than a commercial mid-winter festival.

We wish you peace, joy, warmth and happiness for the celebration of our Saviour’s birth. We will remember in prayer those who have lost loved ones during the past year.  We pray particularly for those who have been touched by the tragedy of suicide. May the star which lit up the sky at the birth of Christ shine the light of hope and peace on all those who are suffering. We pray that 2018 will be a time of happiness for our families, a time of blessing for our city, county and country, and a time of peace for our world.

May Christ find a welcome when He comes, and a Happy Christmas to you all.

+Paul Colton,                                                                           +John Buckley,      

Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross                                                     Bishop of Cork and Ross.

Bishop Paul Colton and Bishop John Buckley at an event in Cork recently.

Posted in Diocese

Bishop Paul Colton joins in Official Opening of Nano Nagle Place in Cork

On Monday, 18th December, the official opening was performed by Dr Mary McAleese, former President of Ireland, of the newly developed Nano Nagle Place in Cork.  The Right Reverend Dr Paul Colton (Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross), joined the Most Reverend Dr John Buckley (Bishop of Cork and Ross), and the Most Reverend Dr William Crean (Bishop of Cloyne) in the blessing of the new complex prior to the official opening.

Nano Nagle Place is a complex of beautifully regenerated 18th century convent buildings, including a formal school, on a 3.5 acre site where the Presentation Congregation was founded by Nano Nagle in 1775.  It is described as:

… an unexpected oasis in the centre of bustling Cork City, a place that celebrates Nano Nagle’s vision of empowerment through education, community inclusion and spiritual engagement for a contemporary world. The complex houses a heritage centre, gardens, a café (opening Autumn 2017), and shop

It is also home to several educational charities.  The regeneration project cost €10.5 million, and ‘…has been described as a living showcase of one of Ireland’s greatest social justice pioneers.’

At the official opening of Nano Nagle Place were (l-r) Bishop Paul Colton, Mr Jim Corr (Chairman of the Trust), Sister Mary Deane (Congregational Leader of the Presentation Sisters), Bishop William Crean, Cllr Tony Fitzgerald (Lord Mayor of Cork), Dr Mary McAleese, and Bishop John Buckley.

Nano Nagle (christened Honora) was born in 1718 of a long-standing Catholic family at Ballygriffin near Mallow in North Cork. Her home lay in the beautiful valley of the Blackwater backed by the Nagle Mountains to the south.  She sensed a special vocation to care for the poor and for their education.

By the time of her death in 1784 she had set up a whole network of schools in Cork, with over four hundred pupils in seven parishes.  With an eye to the practical, she introduced classes in needlework, lace-making, and other crafts, designed to enable pupils to learn their livelihood and to gain a foothold in society. To a large extent, in the absence of models for this kind of education in Ireland, Nano had to become an educator in her own right. Her abiding conviction: “We must prefer the schools to all others.” To put her schools on a more lasting and more professional basis, she decided to bring Ursuline Sisters from France to teach in Cork. But, for various reasons, the experiment as it materialised did not fit in with Nano’s vision.

This led to her setting up her own congregation of religious sisters under a constitution suited to their special vocation of educating the poor. Thus was established, on Christmas Eve 1775, what was at first entitled ‘The Sisters of Charitable Instruction of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Nano’s preferred title, which was later to become the ‘Presentation Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary’ (PBVM), as they are still called.  Nano was the Order’s first superior.  Today the Order works in more than 20 countries around the world.

A full video of the official opening is available on the Nago Nagle Place website HERE

Posted in Bishop, Church in Society, Community Involvement, Ecumenism, Official Opening, People from Cork