New Diocesan Reader and Diocesan Pastoral Assistants commissioned


The newly commissioned Diocesan Reader and DPAs with Canon Paul Thompson(left) and Bishop Ian Ellis.

A special Service of Holy Communion was held in St. Macartin’s Cathedral, Enniskillen, on the occasion of the Admission and Licensing of a new Diocesan Reader and the Commissioning of four new Diocesan Pastoral Assistants.

The service on Thursday, 16th September 2021 was led by the Bishop of Clogher, the Right Revd Dr. Ian Ellis.

The new Diocesan Reader is Mrs Joan Nelson and the four new DPAs are Mrs Patricia Hutchinson, Mrs Viola Bryson, Mrs Wendy Kerr and Mr Keith Browne.

During the service the Warden of Lay Readers, Canon Paul Thompson presented the group to Bishop Ellis who vested the Diocesan Reader with the traditional blue scarf and presented each of the DPAs with the Badge of Office.

During the service, the hymns, “To God be the glory!” “The Lord’s my Shepherd,” “Lord, For the Years” and “I, the Lord of sea and sky” were sung, led by organist, Mrs Diane Simpson and the Cathedral Choir.

The Bishop of Clogher the Right Revd Dr. Ian Ellis preaching the sermon.

In his sermon, Bishop Ellis said that Diocesan Readers should help people see how faith touches their lives, to awaken their faith or move on in their faith..

Bishop Ellis thanked Revd Isaac Hanna for leading training for the DPAs and explained their role was visiting people in their own homes, or in hospital or nursing homes, bringing comfort and the compassion of Jesus Christ. He said some parishioners needed some joy brought into their lives, others simply needed a prayer to sustain them.

He said many of these people might not be able to attend church but they as commissioned DPAs can bring church to them, at the same time supporting the Rector of Rural Dean.
He said the greatest privilege of all was to share the presence of Jesus with others.

The new Diocesan Reader, Mrs Joan Nelson was brought up in the parish of Killadeas in a family where a strong Christian faith was nurtured. From an early age she was a regular attender of church and Sunday School and a member of the choir.

In her teens Joan became organist and has now served over 50 years in that role. She has also served as Sunday School teacher, Select Vestry member, Mothers' Union Branch Leader and is currently leader of the senior citizens' Tuesday Club. Since retiring from her teaching career she wanted to explore further opportunities to serve God and the church community and trained as a Parish Reader in 2010 and as a Diocesan Pastoral Assistant in 2013 - work which she finds to be very rewarding.

She continued; “I still felt that God was calling me to explore further so I applied for the two-year Diocesan Lay Reader course which I completed recently. This involved study through the Church of Ireland Theological Institute in Dublin; St John's College, Nottingham and Queen's Foundation, Birmingham. The course of study was enjoyable but challenging and more especially when Covid regulations meant that lectures had to be on Zoom instead of meeting personally. I have made some very firm friends from other dioceses through the course and very much value their friendship. I wish to thank my family, my rectors and others through the years who encouraged and supported me and continue to do so. I look forward to assisting with services in Clogher Diocese in the years ahead.

Joan and her husband, Robert have three sons and five grandchildren.

The four Diocesan Pastoral Assistants are;

Patricia Hutchinson, who is married to David and they have four children - Ben, Barry, Ciara and Eimear. Originally from Co. Leitrim, she has worked in the Republic of Ireland’s health service for a number of years.

She adds; “I had planned to change careers but was at a crossroads. I met my friend for a walk one evening in August 2019 and explained my dilemma and by chance we were meeting the next day to go to an art exhibition. She had spoken to her husband after our walk and he suggested I apply to become a DPA. And here I am! I really enjoyed the training and the open atmosphere for discussing the topics. I am very much looking forward to my new role and wherever God leads me.”

Viola Bryson is originally from Germany but has lived in Northern Ireland for 21 years.
Married to Revd Philip Bryson, and with four children, she said she was grateful to be able to finally be commissioned after a longer wait due to the pandemic and take up the role of pastoral assistant.

She adds; “I have found the training very useful as well as relevant to the pastoral situations I may find myself in. I am looking forward to actually being physically present where needed and prayerfully bringing God’s presence and comfort into situations.”

Wendy Kerr is from Lisbellaw, married to Malcolm with a daughter Lauren and two sons, Stephen and Matthew. She was born in Germany and moved back to Enniskillen in 1982.

She said; “I am really looking forward to starting my role as a pastoral assistant. The training has been very good and so helpful and relevant to me in my Christian journey. I'm so looking forward to putting all my new skills into supporting the people in the community.”

Keith Browne is from Cootehill, Co Cavan. Married to Christina, they have a child, Nathan. He trained and was commissioned as a Diocesan Reader in 2010 and since then he has conducted worship in many Parishes throughout the Diocese.

“I have found this an enjoyable experience, but also a most responsible and serious calling. I now begin a new chapter in my ministry. I very much look forward to meeting with people who maybe are going through a difficult time and are in need of God’s touch in their lives. I’d like to thank Roy Crowe for encouraging me in becoming a DPA, Canon Paul Thompson for his patience, encouragement and hard work throughout our training, Canon Isaac for the brilliant course that he led - God has surely gifted Isaac with many great skills . I really enjoyed meeting him and listening to his many life experiences. Finally thank you to my Lord and my saviour Jesus Christ, who has called me to his service.”