At the start of the meeting of Cork City Council on Monday, 25th March, the Lord Mayor of Cork, Councillor Mick Finn, extended his warm congratulations to the Church of Ireland Bishop of Cork, the Right Reverend Dr Paul Colton, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary, that day, of his ordination and consecration as Bishop. Bishop Colton was consecrated in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin on the Feast of the Annunciation, 25th March, 1999 and has served since in Cork, Cloyne and Ross.
Earlier in the day, the Lord Mayor attended the regular Monday Eucharist at noon in St Fin Barre’s Cathedral, Cork. To mark the occasion, the Bishop was celebrant.
What Bishop Colton did not expect was to see the clergy of the United Dioceses of Cork, Cloyne and Ross gathered among the usual congregation, together with his colleagues from the Diocesan Office, and a number of close friends. The Director of Music at St Fin Barre’s Cathedral, Mr Peter Stobart, was present to play some carefully chosen hymns for the occasion, and an organ voluntary afterwards.
Another surprise, at the end of the Service and before the dismissal, was when the Archdeacon, the Venerable Adrian Wilkinson, spoke on behalf of the clergy of the Diocese, and then, on their behalf, the Dean of Cork, the Very Reverend Nigel Dunne, presented Bishop Colton with a gift the clergy had commissioned: a pectoral cross. Made in Cork Silver by a silversmith adjacent to St Fin Barre’s Cathedral, the pectoral cross was designed by Cathedral parishioner, Ruth Mahony, who was art teacher at Ashton School, Cork when the Bishop was a student there in the 1970s. The cross is one that features in the mosaics of the Cathedral floor, surmounted by a descending dove (representing the Holy Spirit) which is seen in a number of places in the Cathedral, including in the Pentecost window. The same cross and dove feature on the principal ciborium in the Cathedral used in the administration of Holy Communion.
Bishop Colton said:
I am so overwhelmed by all this and so grateful. The pectoral cross is such a thoughtful gift and brings together so richly so many aspects of this special place in Cork, and of what Christian ministry is. Thank you so much to everyone, and to all the countless people who have sent messages and also sent kind greetings on social media, a phenomenon that didn’t exist when I was consecrated bishop in 1999. How rapidly times have changed and are changing: very exciting!
I am especially grateful to the Archdeacon and to the Dean of Cork for springing the surprises – it’s not often they catch me out, and to the wonderful clergy of this remarkable Diocese for their beautiful gift.
After the Service a light lunch was served in the ambulatory and even some tourists visiting the Cathedral came to join in the celebrations.