Ambassador of Israel makes courtesy visit to the Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross

On Wednesday, 26th April, the Ambassador of Israel to Ireland, His Excellency Ze’ev Boker, made a courtesy visit in Cork to the Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross, the Right Reverend Dr Paul Colton.  The Ambassador was welcomed to The Palace by Dr Colton and Mrs Susan Colton, and entertained to afternoon tea. A wide-ranging and interesting conversation took place about Ireland and Israel, direct flights between the two countries, the visits of Christians and Christian agencies to the Middle East, the closure of the Synagogue in Cork, and the vital importance of, and potential of, interfaith dialogue.

H.E. Ze’ev Boker, Ambassador of Israel, and the Right Reverend Dr Paul Colton, Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross (Photo: Sam Wynn)

Posted in Ambassador's Visit, Bishop, Church in Society, Community Involvement

Confirmation Season begins in Cork, Cloyne and Ross

Bishop Paul Colton began his annual round of visitations to parishes for 2017, during which he also conducts baptisms and confirmations, on the Second Sunday of Easter, 23rd April.  This year the Bishop started in Fanlobbus Union of Parishes which is centred on Dunmanway in West Cork, and includes also Drimoleague, Drinagh and Coolkelure. There were 14 young people for Confirmation, one of whom was first baptised at yesterday’s celebration of the Eucharist.  A large congregation of 237 people from the parish and further afield was there for Sunday Service and to support the young people.

Fanlobbus Union of Parishes held a Confirmation Service at St. Mary’s Church, Dunmanway on Sunday last, with 13 children being confirmed and one young person also being baptised. Pictured after the Service are the newly baptised and the newly confirmed with the Rev Cliff Jeffers (Rector of the Parish), Bishop Paul Colton and Lay Reader Sam Jennings. ©Andy Gibson.

Confirmations will continue on each Sunday in the Diocese until Sunday 9th July, with several more during the summer until September.  In coming weeks Bishop will be in Douglas Union with Frankfield on 30th April, in Carrigaline Union on 7th May, in St Fin Barre’s Cathedral (Cork) on 14th May, in Bandon Union on 21st May, and in St Colman’s Cathedral (Cloyne)  on 28th May.

Posted in Baptism, Bishop, Confirmation, Parish News

Rich and Varied Celebrations of Holy Week and Easter in Cork, Cloyne and Ross

The week that starts each year with the Sunday before Easter Day, Palm Sunday, is known to Christians as Holy Week.  Its importance and significance in the Church is highlighted by its being called ‘The Great Week’ in the early history of Christianity.  Parishes throughout Cork, Cloyne and Ross, in common with Christians throughout the world, made this a week long spiritual journey of worship, commemoration and celebration. Photos from around the Diocese show how it all unfolded in Cork, Cloyne and Ross.

Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday commemorates the arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem for the last days of his life. This is re-enacted in parishes as the Gospel account of that arrival is read, and with processions and palm branches.  On this day too the scene for the whole of Holy Week is set as the entire account of the betrayal, arrest, trial and execution of Jesus (known as ‘The Passion Gospel’) is read, sometimes in dramatic form.

Parishioners gather for the blessing of branches on Palm Sunday before processing into the church in St Andrew’s, Kilmurry

Musicians of the St Nicholas Brass Band tune up in the Canon Packham Hall before the Procession in Douglas

More of Palm Sunday photos:

The reading of the Passion Gospel

In Carrigaline, the Passion Gospel was read in dramatic form, by actors

Holy Week

By tradition parishes hold services throughout Holy Week and people are asked consciously to change the pace and rhythm of their lives to make space for the special events of the week.  Many parishes maintain the tradition of Services every day in the week, others focus on the days known as the Triduum: Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Eve.

Holy Week is a chance to pause and reflect – a spiritual pilgrimage

The Bishop spent all of Holy Week in the parishes of Douglas Union with Frankfield where he devised the special services and gave the talks.

It’s a busy week for clergy, and not without its headaches!

Holy Week is a chance to pause and reflect – a spiritual pilgrimage

Chrism Eucharist on Maundy Thursday

One of the main events in Holy Week is on Maundy Thursday when the Diocese is invited by the Bishop to gather with him to renew ordination vows and also commitment to ministry.  The oils for use in the sacramental and pastoral ministry of the Church are blessed.  This Service takes place every year in St Fachtna’s Cathedral, Rosscarbery, and everyone enjoys lunch together afterwards in the narthex of the Cathedral.

Billy Skuse (Diocesan Secretary), Mrs Susan Colton, Miss Barbara Veitch (St Stephen’s Protestant Orphan Society), and Mrs Vera Wharton arriving for the Diocesan Chrism Eucharist

The clergy take oils back to their parishes for use in their ministry throughout the coming year.

Maundy Thursday

On Maundy Thursday we recall the ‘mandatum’, the commandment of Jesus, given to us to love one another, and as an example of that love and service he washed the disciples’ feet.  This is the evening when the Church remembers the night before his death, when, at supper with his disciples in the upper room, he gave them the meal by which to remember him for ever, the meal by which he is present with us still to nourish and sustain us, and to give us a foretaste of his kingdom.  At the start of the Service on this evening, the oils are received in the parishes from the Diocesan Chrism Eucharist earlier in the day.

At the start of the service on this evening, the oils are received in the parishes from the Diocesan Chrism Eucharist earlier in the day.

The red colour of the earlier days of Holy Week becomes white for this celebration

The reredos (carving behind the altar) in St Luke’s Church, Douglas, sums up this evening well.

At the conclusion of the Maundy Thursday Service we hear how Jesus and the disciples sang a song and went out to the Mount of Olives.  There he was betrayed and arrested. The church is stripped of all that is beautiful and the people leave in darkness and silence.

The church is stripped

Good Friday

The churches which have been stripped and left in the darkness the night before are the stark and desolate setting for the Services of Good Friday.

Abbeystrewry Church, Skibbereen

St Luke’s Church, Douglas where the reredos of the last supper is also covered

Holy Trinity, Frankfield

St Michael’s Church, Blackrock at Noon on Good Friday

St Andrew’s, Kilmurry ~ Good Friday is a day for contemplation of and proclamation of the Cross.

Chapel of Christ the Healer in Cork University Hospital ~ Good Friday is a day for contemplation of and proclamation of the Cross.

Easter Eve

Easter Eve, the Saturday before Easter Day, known also as Holy Saturday (but not Easter Saturday) is a day of continuing, patient waiting, until evening time when, in some parishes, the Paschal Fire is lit, the Paschal Candle is lit from the fire, the Easter Vigil is kept, and the first Eucharist of Easter is celebrated.  Christ is risen!

The Paschal Fire in Moviddy Union of Parishes

The Paschal Fire in Skibbereen, County Cork

The Paschal Candle on Easter Eve in the Chapel of Christ the Healer, Cork University Hospital\

The Paschal Candle on Easter Eve in Abbeystrewry Parish Church

Annual ‘Sun Up’ at the Warren Strand

Each year one of the earliest celebrations of Easter in the Diocese is ‘Sun up’ which took place as usual this year in Rosscarbery. The event began on Saturday afternoon when  young people and leaders spent time playing crazy golf, playing various games, and creating dramatic versions of the events of Holy Week. On Sunday morning, the group gathered on the Warren Beach at 6.30am and were joined by local members of the community. The morning was beautiful and the celebration of the Eucharist conducted by the Dean of Ross, was followed by a hearty breakfast.

Sun Up on Easter Morning at the Warren Beach

Easter Day

Easter Day begins with the proclamation: ‘Christ is risen!’ In a complete reversal of the mood of Good Friday, Easter becomes a day of hope, light and joy. Each year the Bishop leads the Diocese in the celebrations of Easter at St Fin Barre’s Cathedral, Cork.

Easter Day at St Fin Barre’s Cathedral, Cork

Easter Day at St Fin Barre’s Cathedral, Cork

Easter Day at St Fin Barre’s Cathedral, Cork

Baptisms at Easter

In the early Church, baptisms, initiation into membership of the Church, took place at Easter after a long period of teaching and testing (throughout Lent).  Still today, many parishes include baptism as part of their Easter celebrations.

Teddy was baptized in Saint Mary, Marmullane (Passage West)

Emily was baptized in St Michael’s Church, Blackrock

Eliza Marianna was baptized in St Andrew’s, Kilmurry

Musicians and Choirs

Holy Week and Easter are a busy time for everyone in parishes, not least musicians, organists, and choirs.

In st Fin Barre’s Cathedral, Cork, on Good Friday there was a liturgical performance of John Stainer’s ‘The Crucifixion’

The Bishop kept the organist and choir in St Luke’s, Douglas busy throughout the week also.

Mrs B. McCutcheon and Mrs V. Locke chat in Douglas before the Palm Sunday procession.  Organist, Mark Slade (right) contemplates the week ahead!

Involving the Children

Holy Week and Easter are a time of commemoration and celebration for everyone in the Church.  It is a time of very vivid and active participation for children and young people:

The wonder and excitement of it all

Messy Church on Good Friday in Abbeystrewry Parish, Skibbereen, County Cork

Working with other Christians

This is a time of year also when Christians of different denominations work, worship and witness together.  Douglas Churches Together had a number of activities: a Walk of Witness on Palm Sunday and an Easter Garden Dawn Service on Easter Day.  In addition, throughout Holy Week, they staffed stalls in the two main shopping centres in their suburb of Cork, and the prayers garnered from shoppers were also brought to the evening Services in the churches and included in the intercessions of the day.

Starting to gather at Douglas Community Centre for the Douglas Churches Together Walk of Witness on Palm Sunday

Douglas Churches Together set up a Holy Week and Easter stall at each of the two shopping centres in Douglas, Co. Cork

Douglas Churches Together set up a Holy Week and Easter stall at each of the two shopping centres in Douglas, Co. Cork

Douglas Churches Together set up a Holy Week and Easter stall at each of the two shopping centres in Douglas, Co. Cork

Easter Cross in the Bible Garden at Ardfallen Methodist Church, Cork

Easter Morning in the Bible Garden at Ardfallen, for Douglas Churches Together

Hearty Easter Breakfast in Ardfallen Methodist Church for Douglas Churches Together

Easter Decor

By Easter Day, flower arrangers and decorators are back in action after a fallow Lent when, traditionally, there are no flowers in churches.  In so many ways the Easter decorations inspire the joyful Easter celebrations.

All set for Easter in St Mary’s Church, Caheragh

A miniature Easter Garden in Moviddy Union of Parishes

And a cameo appearance in St John’s, Monkstown of a chick on Easter Morning!

Posted in Bishop, Children's Ministry, Children's Work, Chrism Eucharist, Church Music, Community Involvement, Diocese, Easter, Good Friday, Holy Week, Maundy Thursday, People from the Diocese, Photo Montage

Cork Church of Ireland Honour Star Player John Jermyn, Jnr.

The Incorporated Church of Ireland Cork Young Men’s Association (ICICYMA) at Garryduff Sports Centre, Cork has honoured one of the most distinguished of their hockey players, John Jermyn, Jnr., with honorary life membership.  The award was made recently as a mark of Church of Ireland Hockey Club‘s esteem for John, for his contribution to the Club, all that he has achieved as a hockey player and as an Irish international, including participation in the 2016 Rio Olympics.  Leaving aside all that he has achieved with his club and province, John has 178 caps playing for Ireland, in which context alone he has scored 92 goals. The President of the Club, Mervyn Kerr, made the presentation in the Club House at Garryduff, Rochestown, Cork in the presence of John’s family and a large gathering of members and friends.


John Jermyn, Jnrs., receiving his Honorary Life Membership from Club President, Mervyn Kerr.


Posted in Church of Ireland Hockey Club, Diocese, Garryduff Sports Centre, ICICYMA, People from Cork, People from the Diocese

Annual Chrism Eucharist in Cork, Cloyne and Ross

Clergy, lay readers, and lay ministers together with a substantial congregation responded to an invitation from the Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross, Dr Paul Colton, to join in the Annual Chrism Eucharist in St Fachtna’s Cathedral, Rosscarbery, Co. Cork on Maundy Thursday, 13th April.  The holy oils were blessed, and everyone renewed their commitment to ministry.  Afterwards a lovely lunch was served to everyone in the narthex of the Cathedral.

At the annual Diocesan Chrism Eucharist in the Cathedral Church of St Fachtna, Rosscarbery, County Cork were (l-r) Canon Trevor Lester, The Very Reverend Nigel Dunne (Dean of Cork), Canon Eithne Lynch, the Very Reverend Christopher Peters (Dean of Ross), the Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross, the Venerable Adrian Wilkinson (Archdeacon of Cork, Cloyne and Ross), and, Canon Paul Willoughby (Diocesan Representative Canon at the National Cathedral and Collegiate Church of St Patrick, Dublin)

Diocesan Media Officer, Sam Wynn was on hand to take photos:

Posted in Bishop, Cathedral, Chrism Eucharist, Church Services, Diocese, Holy Week, Maundy Thursday

Good Friday Liturgical Performance at Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral, Cork

On Good Friday night (14th April) the choir of Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral, Cork, under the baton of Director of Music, Peter Stobart, performed John Stainer’s Holy Week oratorio The Crucifixion.  The soloists were Josh Spink (Tenor) and Chris Southgate (Bass), accompanied by acclaimed Limerick organist Trevor Selby on the Cathedral Organ.

Good Friday at St Fin Barre’s Cathedral, Cork

Over 150 people came along to make this special occasion part of their Good Friday observance and Holy Week journey.  The Dean of Cork, the Very Revd Nigel Dunne, said after the performance:

Following some considerable thought and debate about how the Cathedral could provide something beyond of our usual Good Friday solemn liturgy, we decided to offer the city and wider county this ‘liturgical performance’ – not quite a concert, and not quite a service.  I am delighted that it has appealed to so many and hope that we might offer something similar during Holy Week next year.

The full Cathedral choir, now with over thirty boy and girl choristers, eight Lay Vicars Choral (adults), and several other deputy Lay Vicars, produced a wonderful sound on the night, not to mention those present, who joined heartily in the singing of the hymns which are part of the oratorio.

Posted in Cathedral, Church Music, Good Friday, Holy Week

‘Vulnerability is part of Christian Ministry’ – Bishop Paul Colton at Annual Diocesan Chrism Eucharist

Sermon preached by the Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross

The Right Reverend Dr Paul Colton

at the Diocesan Chrism Eucharist

In the Cathedral Church of St Fachtna, Rosscarbery, Co Cork

On Maundy Thursday, 13th April, 2017

At the annual Diocesan Chrism Eucharist in the Cathedral Church of St Fachtna, Rosscarbery, County Cork were (l-r) Canon Trevor Lester, The Very Reverend Nigel Dunne (Dean of Cork), Canon Eithne Lynch, the Very Reverend Christopher Peters (Dean of Ross), the Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross, the Venerable Adrian Wilkinson (Archdeacon of Cork, Cloyne and Ross), and, Canon Paul Willoughby (Diocesan Representative Canon at the National Cathedral and Collegiate Church of St Patrick, Dublin)

In this month’s issue of the Diocesan Magazine there is a warm tribute to our former Bishop, Samuel Poyntz, by Wilfred Baker,  our former Diocesan Secretary, including many amusing asides.  I never hear our first reading today without thinking of another such funny incident.  Bishop Sam was spotted on holiday at a beach on our coast – one of those beaches at the bottom of high sand dunes and small sandy cliffs.  Those who spotted him were some mischievous clergy, and as the Bishop and Mrs Poyntz, set out their picnic, deck chairs, rug and windbreaker, the naughty clergy crawled forward on their bellies in the sand dunes above and, unseen, one of them called out ‘ Samuel, Samuel!’    The Bishop sat up in his alert and typically purposeful way to look around but, saw nothing.  Once more they called, ‘Samuel, Samuel’.  The story does not tell what happened next!  

The account of the call of Samuel reminds us at this point in a demanding week in the midst of our ministry, and throughout our ministry, that ours, whatever ministry we exercise, is a call from God. It is a call which we heard and continue to hear, and to which we have responded; and because we are human, our response may be energetic and purposeful, imaginative thoughtful and creative, or, at times, wearing, reluctant and resentful.  But response it is!

Bishop Poyntz preached in St Nicholas’ Carrickfergus at the invitation of Bishop Billy McCappin at my ordination to the priesthood. These days I only remember a few of his words; that’s a good track record for any sermon.  Remembering a few words of a sermon all these years is good. I can still, in my mind see and hear Bishop Poyntz confidently proclaiming them: ‘In the days and years ahead you are never alone – you are never alone – God is with you.’

God calls us.  God sustains us.  Not only is God with us, God gives us each other in the Church, and in ministry.  That is why, as we sang in today’s psalm ‘it is good to dwell together in unity.’  We are not called to a ministry in isolation, apart from one another.  We are called to work together.   In lay ministry we share our ministry with all the baptised, in partnership with our clergy and bishop.  

These days, ordination services begin with these words of St Paul to the Romans:  ‘Just as in a single human body there are many limbs and organs, all with different functions, so we who are united with Christ, though many, form one body, and belong to one another as its limbs and organs.  We have gifts allotted to each of us by God’s grace.’ (Romans 12: 5, 6)   Deacons are told that they assist the priest and bishop. Those ordained priest are told that they ‘…are called to work with the bishop and with other priests as servants and shepherds among the people to whom they are sent.’   At their ordination, Bishops are told that they  ‘…  are called to lead in serving and caring for the people of God and to work with them in the oversight of the Church.

God calls us.  God is with us.  We are in this together, with all the variety of our frail humanity and vulnerability, to work together.  For what and to what end? Well, our second reading sets out the purpose of it all as well as anywhere else: ‘To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever.’  (Revelation 1.5b-6)

The woman, in the Gospel, who anointed Jesus’ feet,  whose tears poured down on his feet and which she dried with her hair, brings a practical note to all this.  

As so often happens in the Gospels, this is a significant moment, and it happens, not unusually, at a mealtime or party.

The woman comes in as an outsider – she is an obvious sinner – she interrupts the scene, as one commentator puts it ‘like an alien, communicable disease; given the Pharisaical views of holiness ..’  Sion had invited Jesus but had glaringly neglected the deeply ingrained laws of hospitality.

The woman arrives and her behaviour is outrageous.  She is an intruder, a gatecrasher, and it is obvious that she is a sinner in the city, I quote one commentary ‘a whore by social status, contagious in her impurity, and probably one who fraternises with Gentiles for economic purposes.  What is she doing in this house?’

Her actions are accentuated by St Luke, and are almost portrayed as erotic.  “She stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair. Then she continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment.’ (Luke 7.38)

And that starts a row. A row at a supper party is always awkward.  By the end Jesus restores her to the community: ‘your faith has made you whole/saved you; go in peace.’ (Luke 7.50)

We could spend many hours reflecting on this incident and the words exchanged in the row which the woman’s actions caused.  But we don’t have hours;  our minds are perhaps rushing ahead already to what we have to do tonight.  And maybe we too will wash feet following, not her example, but our Lord’s own example.  

Does her action prefigure what Jesus will do tonight – modelling the service we are to offer to each other?

As I reflect on the ritual washing we may reenact tonight, I am conscious that it is a ritual; we wash already washed, maybe even talcum-powdered, feet.  Ritual foot-washing, powerfully symbolic as it may be, is easy.  I think of the many people in our society whose service and work actually brings them into real contact with the dirtiest of feet – figurative feet twisted and gnarled by life with ingrown toenails, sweat, dirt and infection between the toes.  Such as those who risk their own safety to fly into the darkness hundreds of miles over the ocean to rescue a fisherman.  Those who fly out in support and who do not come home.  Those who develop skills and pool their efforts to dive to the seabed to try to find them.  Those who support them and who sit with those who wait at home, including clergy and those who have the special gift of human compassion.  Those who brew tea and make sandwiches.   Such people are legion in our society; care-assistants, counsellors, nursing and medical staff, rescue and security services and those doing their work faithfully, often voluntarily.

I think of those whose work calls them into calamitous and dangerous situations.  Images from recent weeks fly through my mind.  A young Swedish police officer wearing a gas mask marshalling a disorientated crowd; chaos on a St Petersburg underground; a police constable who died standing his ground on duty at Westminster; adults hosing down babies after a chemical attack; a team bus damaged by an explosion and bewildered fans at an ordinary football game; the neighbours who came to us in our family last Friday when we found a relative dead at home; the vulnerability of gay people in Chechnya calling out for our solidarity; but most of all, this week has been dominated for me by the images of our Coptic brothers and sisters bombed at their Palm Sunday commemorations – a world away from our peaceful, suburban and idyllic rural processions here with our branches.  Susan and I led a group of young people on a work party to the Church in Egypt in 1985.  We met many Coptic Christians and visited their holy places.   

The world cries out for the love of God, and for our ministry of service; faced with all this it can be overwhelming.  We cannot all do everything; we cannot do nothing either.

Even ministry in the Church, seldom as physically extreme as any of those places I have mentioned, has its demands, and today gives me the opportunity, as your bishop, to thank you, and to express my admiration and love for you.

Ministry makes us vulnerable – when Jesus knelt to wash feet – he was not only showing humility, he was making himself vulnerable – vulnerable to misunderstanding, to misrepresentation, to rejection, to misinterpretation, to questioning.  That vulnerability is part of our self-offering in response to his call to us as well.  Vulnerability is part of Christian ministry.  And so we pray that as Jesus said to that unnamed woman, he will say to us too; ‘…your faith has made you whole/saved you; go in peace.’ (Luke 7.50)

Posted in Bishop, Cathedral, Chrism Eucharist, Church Services, Clergy, Diocese, Holy Week, Maundy Thursday