L-R Rt Revd Mgr J McGuinness Rt Revd L MacDaid Rt Revd J McDowell and Most Revd J Duffy DD
The Rt. Revd John McDowell, Church of Ireland Bishop of Clogher, was the guest speaker at the annual General Conference of Catholic clergy in the Diocese of Clogher. The conference of clergy and co-workers was held in the Hillgrove Hotel, Monaghan on 21st October. Bishop Liam MacDaid warmly welcomed Bishop McDowell and thanked him for accepting the invitation to address the conference.
In his opening remarks Bishop McDowell thanked Bishop MacDaid for his valued advice and support since his calling to pastoral ministry in the Diocese of Clogher. He also acknowledged the welcome and engagement with Catholic clergy which he had experienced at numerous community events in parishes throughout the Diocese.
The theme of Bishop McDowell’s keynote address was ‘Personal Reflections on Ministry’. Recalling his formative years and life experiences, he spoke warmly of his encounters with friends from the Catholic community which had helped shape his views on culture and identity. Having had the experience of chairing the Church of Ireland Committee on Commemorations, Bishop McDowell commented on the significance of historical events in shaping modern Ireland, as well as issues of culture and identity.
Turning to the modern era, Bishop McDowell suggested that people of faith need to be aware of the new gods of ‘State’ and ‘Market’, both of which had ambitions to influence and control. He added that society in Ireland and the UK had developed from Christian roots. He urged that as Christians we need to work together to proclaim the Gospel, citing the principle that ‘no single Christian tradition should do on its own what can be done together’.
Bishop McDowell concluded with some reflections on priestly ministry, referencing perceptions from the Reformation to the present. He observed that one consistent perception of the priest was that he was ‘someone in the community who cared’, and that it is important that those who are ministers of the Gospel should listen to each other’s stories.
Bishop MacDaid thanked Bishop McDowell for a very thought-provoking presentation, and as a token of appreciation presented him with the gift of a limited-edition print depicting St Macartan, first Bishop of Clogher and Patron of the Diocese. St Macartan is honoured in both Catholic and Anglican traditions, and represents the shared heritage of the two Churches. The work was created by well-known Monaghan artist Nelius Flynn. Bishop McDowell reciprocated with a gift to Bishop MacDaid of an illustrated history of the Church of Ireland.
Bishop John McDowell addressing the conference