The Rector Writes – changes to Dioceses boundaries will result in increased Parish costs

Last weekend, Archbishop Michael Jackson took the unusual step of issuing a Pastoral Letter to be read at all Services on Sunday 3rd April. What prompted this letter was the issuing of a report by the ‘Commission on Episcopal Ministry and Structures’ and the associated drafted ‘Boundaries Bill’ which is to be presented to General Synod (12th – 14th May). The Commission was set up four years ago at the request of General Synod to investigate the Episcopal needs throughout the entire island of Ireland. This, in turn, was prompted by a vacancy in the United Dioceses of Tuam, Killala and Anchonry and an unsuccessful attempt by General Synod to defer a vote to fill that vacancy – which was subsequently filled by a son of this parish, the Right Reverend Patrick Rooke.

Following a veto by both Archbishops regarding the complete revision of Provincial Boundaries, over the past four years the Commission has travelled throughout Ireland consulting with all bishops, Diocesan Synods (they visited Dublin and Glendalough Synods in October 2014), Diocesan Councils (visited December 2015) and met with other key diocesan staff and representatives. The Commission also presented annual updates to General Synods which were heavy on generalities but with little or no specifics. Last year’s report to General Synod provided maps of possible outcomes with a view to reducing the overall number of bishops by either one, two or three. However, it was stressed that as it was very much a work in progress, these maps were strictly for illustration purposes only. This, in turn, unfortunately resulted in the overlooking of the possibility of the fragmentation of Glendalough Diocese contained in one of the drafts. In its presentation of Diocesan Councils last December, the Commission was only allocated a short time slot and accordingly the issue of ceding 6 groups of parishes (20 churches and parishes in total) from Glendalough and their annexation into Meath and Kildare did not get mentioned or discussed.

The final report which has now issued contains the following main points: 1. The overall number of bishops is to be reduced from twelve to eleven. 2. There are to be six dioceses in the Provence of Armagh and five dioceses in the Provence of Dublin. 3. The United Dioceses of Tuam, Killala and Achonry (excluded from the Archbishops’ veto mentioned above) is to be divided, with Tuam and Killala being transferred to the Dublin Provence and joined with Limerick and Killaloe. Achonry is to remain in the Armagh Provence and be joined with Kimore, Elphin and Ardagh. 4. Six Groups of Parishes, namely: Athy, with Kilberry, Kilkea and Fontstown; Narraghmore, Timolin, Castledermot and Kinneagh; Blessington with Kilbride, Ballymore-Eustace and Hollywood; Celbridge with Straffan and Newcastle- Lyons; Donoughmore with Donard and Dunlavin; and Leixlip and Lucan are to be removed from Glendalough Diocese and joined with Meath and Kildare. All other diocesan and provincial boundaries will remain unaffected.

The Archbishop is against the Commission’s proposal as they affect his United Dioceses and in light of their likely impact, both pastorally and financially, he has called an extraordinary Diocesan Synods for the evening of 20th April. Ahead of that meeting he hopes that the views of parishioners throughout the United Dioceses would be made known to Diocesan Synods representatives and get aired on the night. Please note that the names of Tullow’s Diocesan Synods representative may be found elsewhere in this Newsletter under the heading of ‘Easter General Vestry elections 2016’. Please ensure you take this opportunity to air your views and make your comments as your input will be very much appreciated.

With every blessing,

John,

Rev’d John Tanner, Phone: 289 3154 / Mobile 086 302 1376

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