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Monday, January 27, 2014

Appointment as a Canon: an honor and an important lesson.

Last night, 26 January, I had the privilege of being installed as a Canon at our Diocesan Cathedral St Fin Barre's Cathedral, Cork. As someone who has always treated such things with caution and a certain hesitancy I learned an important lesson in the last few days. That lesson is that these things are not just about the person concerned. This was brought home to me by my colleagues from outside the Church of Ireland as they expressed great joy at my appointment and a sense of shared honor. One colleague captured this as they said "this is a great honor for us as chaplains, that your Bishop would recognise and honor hospital chaplaincy in this very public way at the heart of the Diocese". This was something I hadn't felt for myself and an important insight for me to learn.


I was also very moved by the many, many comments and good wishes and indeed acknowledgment from followers and friends on social media and twitter. A reminder that there are many who engage with what the church is doing and are interested in what is going on and in how we relate to the world in an intelligent, compassionate, transformative and meaningful way.

The Dean of Cork, Nigel Dunne and Daniel Nuzum
It was humbling to be accompanied by colleagues in ministry and to be welcomed into the Cathedral Chapter so warmly by the Dean in the stunningly beautiful St Fin Barre's Cathedral.










The Rev'd Geraldine Gracie and Fr Christy Fitzgerald
As Diocesan Ecumenical officer it was a great honor to be accompanied by colleagues from the Methodist Church and the Roman Catholic Church who proclaimed the Scriptures during the ancient office of Choral Evensong and also to be joined by colleagues from each of the Chaplaincy Teams I am privileged to serve in at Cork University Hospital, Bon Secours Hospital and Marymount University Hospital and Hospice.










Listening to the Mandate from the Bishop, Dr Paul Colton being read by the Diocesan Registrar gave a powerful sense of place and context into which I was being admitted.  A new step for me, an important lesson for me to learn and above all an honor indeed.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Sometimes the obstacles bring blessings

I had an interesting experience in a cafe yesterday. having ordered a coffee and standing at the front of the queue I realised to my horror as the lady handed me my Americano that I had no money with me. Rather apologetically I was mentally preparing myself for a hasty and hopefully understated retreat to keep my dignity intact! I smiled and hesitantly said "I'm really sorry but I have forgotten my money. Would it be OK if I paid next time?"  As I asked the question there was something about the lady that struck me, a recognition, but then I meet many people in my work so maybe she was just a familiar face.
She fetched a pen and paper to make a note of my name and number. As I gave my name she looked up at me and said "I know you". And there in a few moments conversation the economic scales fell from our eyes as we realised we knew each other in a former life and in another place: how we had both changed! I had bought coffee from her many times over the last year and here in the day when I was embarrassed and asking a favour a moment of awkwardness rekindled a connection from long ago. This experience was a  beautiful icon of humanity. A powerful reminder to me that the obstactles in our life often make us stop and take note and this particular obstacle was a great blessing indeed...

Friday, April 12, 2013

Were our hearts not burning within us? Alleluia beyond words.


John (not his real name) had lived with Motor Neurone Disease for many years but over a period of months John’s illness progressed rapidly and it became obvious to John that he had little time to live. It was a huge loss when John lost the ability to use words: a vibrant man had now become silent. Now, instead of words John used his familiar ‘thumbs-up’ gesture to say that all was ok. John loved the story of the road to Emmaus and I read it with him often.

The story of the Road to Emmaus from St Luke’s Gospel is one of my favourite resurrection stories. Cleopas and his friend were walking to Emmaus in a downcast way. Jesus –unknown to them- was walking alongside them listening to them as they told his story. At the time it seemed that nothing was happening. Only when they sat down to eat and they broke bread did they suddenly recognise that Jesus was in their midst. 

It is a wonderful example of how gently God can become known to us. “Were not our hearts burning within us?” they asked. In such a gentle way Jesus came alongside them and touched their hearts. This is the deep connection we experience when our inner needs are met.

I will never forget one particular evening when I came to that phrase about our “hearts burning within us” when although frail, John confidently gave his thumbs-up gesture. Here, when words would no longer flow for John somehow his gesture proclaimed louder than any speech that God was near. Our hearts burned within us.

We are not defined by illness but by the image of God that each of us radiates even when our physical bodies let us down. Alleluia! 

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Alleluia! new life has begun

'Resurrection' from icon in the Chapel of Christ the Healer,
Cork University Hospital
Alleluia! is the clarion call in Easter.

It shouts out the joy and thrill of new life. As a word it is bursting with hope, victory and newness. When sung it reverberates deep within us as we literally embody the word.

In a hospital environment it is a feeling experienced when we receive good news, when we receive results that an illness or a disease has been cured; that a treatment or surgery has been successful. It is a feeling that many survivors of cancer long to feel when the dreaded 5 year check-up looms.

For Christians, Easter Day is the day that brings hope that pain, suffering -even death- is transformed by God in Christ.
Now, there is nothing that cannot be transformed and healed even when physical cure is not possible. This is good news indeed.
Alleluia! Christ is Risen.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Paschal Moon: Cosmic Significance

The date of Easter moves each year. Many say that it would make more sense for the date to be fixed in the same way that Christmas is. However, the fact that the date is set on the cycles of the moon and nature speaks in an overwhelming way of the cosmic significance of what we celebrate tonight.

Every time I attend the Easter Vigil, I take a few moments to savour the full circled 'Paschal Moon' and marvel. As we lit the paschal fire outside our hospital tonight to bring the light into the chapels the long night of waiting and darkness brightened by the unassuming light that simply is.

Alleluia! Christ is Risen
The Paschal Candle at the
Chapel of Christ the Healer tonight