This month (January 2015) Mr. Zachary Harmon, a student from Virginia Theological Seminary in the United States, will be on placement in the Diocese, dividing his time between Douglas Union with Frankfield, and Ross Union. This link across the Atlantic, came about through the Rev. Dr. Robert Heaney, a member of staff now teaching at the Seminary. Robert is a native of County Down and began his ordained ministry in the Diocese of Meath, where he served as curate working alongside Archdeacon Adrian Wilkinson, who was rector of Dunboyne Union in the Diocese of Meath at the time.
Speaking about this link, the Archdeacon said:
Over the years I have kept in contact with Robert Heaney. When he approached me about taking a student for a few weeks placement, I was delighted to respond to his request. In Douglas we have a long tradition of theological students spending some time with us as part of their training. However this is the first time we have had a student from the United States. I am grateful to the Bishop for approving this placement and to Dean Peters, who will be providing some pastoral opportunities in West Cork. I hope that Zachary Harmon enjoys his time in the Diocese. It might be the start of a very fruitful link between us in Cork, Cloyne and Ross and one of the most highly regarded seminaries in the Episcopal Church in the United States.
Zachary is looking forward to his placement in the Diocese and has written to introduce himself:
Greetings! My name is Zachary Harmon, a seminarian with the Episcopal Church in the United States. I am quite excited to say that I will be in Cork for the month of January and learning more about Anglicanism in Ireland as part of my coursework at Virginia Theological Seminary.
I grew up on the rainy islands and arctic taiga of Alaska. These places could be described as remote since one of the places I grew up was 450 kilometres from the nearest cinema. During most of my childhood I attended evangelical churches, but sometimes my family would attend services at St. Columba’s, a small Anglican mission in Yukon, Canada. My memory of the relational Christianity and liturgy there shaped me.
I later attended college in Oregon and became active in a college based ministry there (Intervarsity). My sophomore year I experienced an amazing semester when I studied and lived at NUI Galway for six months. From that experience I gained a strong interest in the Irish language, trad music and GAA sports which I have tried to keep up in the US. After university, God blessed me with the experience of serving with a Native American-led ministry working with at-risk youth on the Yakama Reservation in the Pacific Northwest. Following these varied experiences, I settled in Oregon working as a court clerk.
My memories of the Anglican mission in Canada and my experiences of a more incarnational Christianity on the Yakama Reservation led me to be curious about the Episcopal Church and the Anglican tradition. Once I started attending a local church, I was drawn to many different kinds of ministry (from vestry to mission to cross-cultural relationship building). To my surprise, I found myself considering a possible call to ordained ministry as I learned more and more about Anglicanism. I had never considered such a course before, but this direction was strongly affirmed in the discernment process. Thus I am now studying at Virginia Theological Seminary.
I greatly look forward to getting to know the Church of Ireland in Cork this January.