Bishop of Clogher says farewell to the people of the Diocese


Bishop of Clogher Right Revd John McDowell.

The Bishop of Clogher, the Right Revd John McDowell has today, Monday, 27th April, broadcast a farewell message to the people of the Diocese on the Clogher Diocese Facebook page.
It can be found using the link;

From tomorrow, 28th April, he becomes Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland.

He prefaced his remarks by explaining that because of the current circumstances, there will not be any farewell service where he could formally thank people in the Diocese and speak about his new role.

He also said that because of the restrictions, he and his family will be continuing to reside in the See House, Fivemiletown until they are able to move to Armagh. His new role also means he will be 'taking care of' the Diocese of Clogher until a successor is elected.

In his broadcast, he said;
The Diocese of Clogher, and the people of Clogher have been good to me. You were patient with me as I learned to be a Bishop and I have never felt other than welcomed wherever I have gone in the Diocese. No doubt I have said and done things which some of you have not agreed with. I hope you will forgive me for those occasions when inadvertently and unknowingly or otherwise I have sinned against any of you.

It was my intention (I’m not a great believer in strategies) to try to achieve a number of priorities during my time here. The first was to provide appropriate ministry in every parish. I think that has been largely, if not wholly achieved. It can be difficult to persuade clergy and others to “come West” but when our three new incumbents (for Trory and Killadeas, Ardess and the Ballybay Group) arrive the diocese will be as “full” as it has been for a very long time. Of course things can change quickly but I hope I have the Diocese in good shape in every sense to face into the future.

The second was to try to create a strong team of both clergy and laity working for the Djocese. In the modern world, but particularly in the Church, it is impossible to fulfil all the tasks which are laid on us, except by teamwork. Anything which I have achieved has been the result of being extraordinarily blessed in the colleagues I have had the pleasure of working with.

When I came to the Diocese in 2011, I was blessed with the friendship of Archdeacon Cecil Pringle, without whose counsel and assistance I could not have survived, much less achieved anything. Now of course ably replaced by Archdeacon Harper who has been a help and an encourager over the past number of years. And of course Mr Glenn Moore and Mrs Ashley Brown in the Diocesan Office. No diocese is more fortunate than Clogher in its administrative and financial staff.

Since coming to the Diocese, the central staff has been strengthened by an extraordinary group of very experienced and dedicated lay people ,who I won't mention by name, but whose contribution has made a huge difference to our effectiveness as a Diocese.

I need also to say a thank you to my clerical colleagues who, along with Readers and DPAs provide the day to day ministry in the Diocese. I think it is fair to say that we have worked well together and there have been very few, if any, cross words that I’m aware of. I am very grateful for the respect they have always given to the office of Bishop (leaving aside the manifold faults of the office holder). Also to members of the Diocesan Council and those individuals who have so faithfully represented Clogher on the councils of the Central Church. An enormous thank you for working with me and with others for the good of the Diocese and the Church which we love so much.

I want also to thank all those from other Christian traditions who have enriched my life and my understanding of faith in their teaching and companionship. I have enjoyed a very close friendship with many in the Catholic community; no fewer than three Bishops (Joseph Duffy, Liam McDaid and Larry Duffy) but with others too, especially Monsignor Peter O’Reilly and Joe McGuinness and also Fr Shane McCaughey. I owe to them a gratitude that I can never repay, except in thankfulness to our Lord Jesus Christ in whom we are one by virtue of our common baptism.

Speaking for myself and my family, I can only say that we have enjoyed our time in this Diocese. We hope in our own ways that we have added something to its life just as we have received much from it. We will leave with sorrow but also with some of the happiest memories of our lives. Many friends, many kindnesses: much happiness.

When St Paul was taking his leave of the elders of the Church at Ephesus it is recorded in The Acts of the Apostles that they “…knelt down with him and prayed. There was much weeping among all; they embraced Paul and kissed him, grieving especially at what he had said, that they would not see him again”. I hope at least metaphorically you will kneel with me and pray (a fair number of us would find it hard to get up on our hind legs again if we knelt for too long) a prayer of thanksgiving for all God has been to us in this little corner of his kingdom, that we call the Diocese of Clogher. I do not expect tears but may well shed some as we take the Armagh Road.

May the God of all grace bless you as you discern his will for the future. May he keep you safe in his love as you experience the difficulties of the present moment. May he fill your memories with the knowledge of all he has given you in the past, above all His limitless love shown in the death and resurrection of his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. AMEN

Laus Deo

+John Clogher