Today is the start of a busy and frenetic week in the United Dioceses of Cork, Cloyne and Ross. It will be the final full week in office of the Diocesan Secretary, Wilfred Baker who, after almost an entire career – nearly forty-two years – will retire at the end of this month. As Diocesan Secretary he has been the lead administrative officer of the United Dioceses, providing essential support to the Bishop, Diocesan Council, parishes, clergy and people of the Diocese in their ministry and mission. As the Diocesan Office also administers many charities and trusts associated with the Diocese, Wilfred has been key to that work also.
Tomorrow, Monday, many of those charities and trusts have meetings: the City of Cork Church School Board (an education charity), the Victoria Trust (which owns the former Victoria Hospital building in Cork, and, as a modern healthcare charity, supports the work today of the South Infirmary Victoria University Hospital), the Diocesan Board of Education, the St Stephen’s Protestant Orphan Society (a combined charity which provides education support and other assistance to single parents, widows and widowers and their children, as well as orphans), and the Lapp’s Charity (a housing charity). Wilfred Baker has administered all of these.
On Tuesday, in Mitchelstown, County Cork, the trustees of the Kingston Charity Trust will meet. This charity, another housing charity, has been working in north Cork, Tipperary, Limerick and further afield for over 250 years. Together with successive Wardens and Chaplains to Kingston College, Wilfred has been manager of this complex of heritage Georgian houses (comprising also a community room and Chapel) and charity on behalf of the trustees.
On Wednesday, 25th March, the Feast of the Annunciation, the Bishop, Dr Paul Colton, will celebrate the sixteenth anniversary of this Consecration as bishop, and Canon George Salter will preside at a celebration of the Eucharist at 12 noon in Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral to mark the 65th anniversary of his ordination. Later that day the Diocesan Council will meet: the last meeting at which Wilfred Baker will serve as Diocesan Secretary. After the meeting of the Council the Bishop and Mrs Colton will host a reception at the Bishop’s Palace to mark the occasion.
Thursday 26th provides an interlude for Wilfred Baker. However, the Boards of Directors of Saint Luke’s Home meet, and the AGM of the Cork Indigent Roomkeepers’ Society will be held in St Fin Barre’s Cathedral. In the evening, one of the schools in the Diocese, Midleton College, is holding a Fashion Show at 8 p.m. hosted by Celia Holman Lee in the Fota Island Resort Hotel.
Friday 27th will bring two momentous events. At 12 noon the Bishop, Dr Paul Colton, will dedicate the new school building of Ashton School, Blackrock Road, Cork of which he and the Cork Education and Training Board are co-patrons. The Minister for Education and Skills, Ms Jan O’Sullivan, T.D. will attend to open officially the school. Also present will be two former Church of Ireland Bishops of Cork, Bishop Samuel Poyntz and Bishop Roy Warke. Ashton School, a comprehensive school, was founded in 1972 under the chairmanship of the late Bishop Gordon Perdue, by amalgamating two Church of Ireland schools: Cork Grammar School (the building has been restored on the Ashton House site) and Rochelle School.
On Friday evening, Bishop Colton will again be joined by Bishop Poyntz and Bishop Warke, at Saint Luke’s Church, Douglas at 8 p.m. for Evensong, led by the Archdeacon, the Venerable Adrian Wilkinson, and at which Wilfred Baker will give a farewell address. This will be the Diocesan Farewell and ‘Thank You’ to Wilfred Baker and will be followed by a reception in the Canon Packham Hall in Douglas.
The week doesn’t end there. The next day, Saturday, Bishop and Mrs Colton will travel to University College Dublin to support the Cork Church of Ireland Men’s Hockey Team (ICICYMA, Garryduff, of which the bishop is President) in their semi-final clash with Railway Union in the Irish Senior Cup . Later in the day they will also attend the final of the Railway Cup between Dublin University Hockey Club and Y.M.C.A.
By then everyone will be ready for the rigours of Palm Sunday and the start of Holy Week!
In order to facilitate this busy schedule, and to afford the office staff the opportunity to make ready for Wilfred’s departure, the Diocesan Office will be closed to the public from Wednesday 25th March, throughout Holy Week until Tuesday, 7th April. Staff will remain contactable by email and post.
Before all that, however, today, Sunday, the Mothers’ Union are holding their Diocesan Festival Service for Lady Day (the Feast of the Annunciation) at 3.30 p.m. in Christ Church, Fermoy, County Cork, when the Eucharist will be celebrated by the Bishop, and the speaker will be the All-Ireland President of the Mothers’ Union, Phyllis Grothier.
All in a week in the life of this, the most southerly Diocese of the Church of Ireland!