COI Gazette -2nd November 2018

Assessing who is Church of Ireland opens ‘Pandora’s box’

2nd NOV

The Education (Admissions to Schools) Act 2016 was signed into law in July of this year. On 3rd October, Minister Richard Bruton commenced three provisions of the reforming Act with immediate effect, but without guidelines to help principals make admissions decisions.

This lack of guidelines leaves principals “temporarily in limbo,” Carolyn Good, principal of Carrigduff Church of Ireland national school, Bunclody, Co Wexford, believes.

Speaking at the Cashel, Ferns and Ossory diocesan synod on October 17th in the Riverside Park Hotel, Enniscorthy, she pointed out that – while the national Church of Ireland board of education is in the process of formulating guidance for principals – the advice was in early October that, given this situation, it is not advisable, at present, to offer any places for the 2019-20 school year.

An attendee at the forum on the Role of Religion in Primary School Admissions, at Croke Park in May 2017, Good also met Minister Bruton in person, at the annual conference for the Church of Ireland Primary School Management Association in Portlaoise.




“These are urgent days for all churches in the west, but particularly traditional churches. There is no guarantee now, where there used to be, that young people will come and believe and accept what we might have done. One of the former archbishops of Canterbury, George Carey, said every local church needs to remember that you are one generation away from extinction. That is a sobering kind of message.” These words were spoken recently by Bishop Ken Good at a diocesan event.

If we were to take George Carey’s words seriously, that every local church is “one generation away from extinction,” it would certainly lend an urgency to how we live as local churches. The words can be paralysing – where we to become so frightened of losing even what we have that we become incapable of action. The alternative is that we allow them to inspire us to greater action.

Bishop Good was speaking at a diocesan event in Derry and Raphoe. It was to mark 10 years of the outworking of the diocesan vision, Transforming community, radiating Christ. The real value of the event was in the stories told by parishes across the dioceses, both urban and rural, of how they had each taken small initiatives over the previous 10 years, and of the change that these have made.

‘Small steps, big difference’ was one of the straplines for the event. The point was simple – taking small steps is often the way to make the most significant change. That truth was borne out as parishes, both urban and rural, told stories of taking small steps, then observing the change these
have made. It certainly beats the alternative of doing nothing.

In a recent Gazette, we told the story of the setting up of Acquired Brain Injury Ireland, and how the parish of St Paul’s Glenageary is supporting it (Gazette, 12th October 2018). The organisation grew out of the vision of one family to meet the needs of a brother who had experienced brain injury. Out of a desire to help him live in accommodation appropriate to his needs, they set up a foundation to enable that to happen.

Eighteen years later, Acquired Brain Injury Ireland now helps 1,200 people every year. It has 15 homes around Ireland, helping people with brain injury to live as independently as possible. We also read how St Paul’s, Glenageary, is using part of the celebration of its 150th anniversary to fund the building of a sensory garden. It will be in a rehabilitation home situated within the parish boundary. As Revd Gary Dowd, rector of St Paul’s, says: “The new garden will allow clients to work on practical outdoor skills and improve memory, planning and organisational skills, as well as being a place for relaxation.”

Rather than being paralysed by the needs arising from 1,300 new brain injuries in Ireland every year, or the distress of a brother whose life changed so unexpectedly, the founders of Acquired Brain Injury Ireland acted to meet some of that need. They are now being supported in that by the local parish.

All these stories show us one thing: that choosing to take small steps can make a big difference. It certainly beats the alternative.

Home News

  • The beginning of a new student movement: ONE Dublin launches
  • Concern raised over Waterford cathedral event
  • Glendalough installation
  • The Spanish flu and the First World War remembered in west Cork
  • Connor institution
  • Pleas for focus on joy and the bigger picture at the heart of CFO diocesan synod
  • Brexit unsettles delegates at border synod
  • Faith in the journey – an interview with Revd Karen Salmon


Rethinking Church – Stephen Neill – Lessons from an atheist

Life lines – Ron Elsdon – The sound of silence

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  • Pastor talks of breakdown in Turkey, but also forgiveness

Letter to the editor

Desecration of WWI wreaths

IT IS almost 100 years since World War I ended. On 11th November 1918, the Armistice was signed by the Allied Forces and Germany to mark the end of a war that cost 16 million lives.

It is estimated that some 200,000 men from the whole island of Ireland fought in what became known as the Great War and over 49,000 died. Hardly a town or village did not lose a son, a brother, a father, a nephew or a friend, whose sacrifice brought grief to their families, loved ones and communities. Death is no respecter of persons and grief is painful.

How sad it is that in recent times, that yet again poppy wreaths have been stolen and destroyed from war memorials in the great city of Londonderry and near Warrenpoint.

These are surely acts of desecration to the memory of heroic and gallant men and women, Roman Catholic, Protestant and non-religious, who gave their lives in two world wars and conflicts since. The burning of poppy wreaths is a vile act, a total disgrace and a blatant display of ignorance. Sadly of course, in our long and troubled history worse things have happened.

The author Steven Moore in his book The Irish on the Somme, which was one of the bloodiest battles of the Great War, says “Catholics and Protestants served shoulder to shoulder, all volunteers, they won 11 Victoria Crosses.” Moore also says, “the hell those men went through is beyond comprehension, the smell of rotting corpses, the rats, the lice, the freezing cold – such was life in the trenches!”

Fr William Doyle from Dalkey, Co Dublin, served as a chaplain in the Great War with the Royal
Irish Fusiliers & Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, and was awarded a Military Cross.

Fr Doyle ministered to both Roman Catholics and Protestants, he was killed at Ypres. A Belfast Orangeman who knew him said, “Fr Doyle did not know what fear or bigotry was. The Ulstermen felt his loss and paid their respects to the dead hero-priest”. Fr Doyle’s remains were never found. Stories of the heroic men from this island who gave their lives in WWI and again in WWII, some of them my own relatives, are legion.

Death did not stop to ask which religion or political party the soldiers belonged to, or whether they were nationalists or loyalists, and bullets did not discriminate.

As we commemorate the ending of WWI, we give thanks to God for those who fought and died for the freedom we enjoy, and sadly many take for granted and abuse

However, we still have a battle on our hands, a battle against evil, bigotry, sectarianism, racism and yes – ignorance, and much more! In our high tech sophis- ticated world, the feral behaviour of those with such impoverished minds is not only regrettable, but totally unacceptable on both sides of the political and religious divide.

The Red Poppy of Flanders’ Fields has a particular significance of remembrance – it is not a fashion statement. It is a potent reminder to all of us who value freedom, peace and justice, of those who
made the supreme sacrifice to save these islands, (in WWI some were mere boys), from the jack boot of Nazism and evil. Pray God that, one day, the ‘evil’ in our midst will be overcome by the good.

In this centenary year, let us wear our poppy with pride and thanksgiving to God for those who gave their tomorrow for our today. The vast majority who live on this island home of ours are decent, fair minded, honourable and right thinking people.

John F.A. Bond (Very Revd) Broughshane

Co Antrim

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