Friday, 25 June 2010

Anniversaries of ordination as deacon and priest

Paul and Jane Bogle outside Saint Mary’s Church, Maynooth, after his ordination as deacon last night (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2010)

Patrick Comerford

Today is the tenth anniversary of my ordination as deacon and yesterday was the ninth anniversary of my ordination as priest – on both occasions by Archbishop Walton Empey in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin.

Yesterday was also the Festival of the Birth of Saint John the Baptist, and I was reminded of the significance of my own ordination, as a deacon and priest, ten and nine years ago, when I attended the ordination of the Revd Paul Bogle as deacon by Bishop Richard Clarke of Meath and Kildare in Saint Mary’s Church, Maynooth, Co Kildare.

We were reminded in his sermon that the servant role of a deacon is the foundation for all ordained ministry, and that we remain deacons when we are later ordained priests or bishops, charged with brining the “sympathy of God” into the world.

There was a good turnout from this year’s Third Year students being ordained being ordained deacons, many from last year, and clergy from the Dioceses of Meath and Kildare and from Dublin and Glendalough.

Maynooth was once part of the Diocese of Glendalough, but in 1940 it was transferred to the Diocese of Meath and united to the Dunboyne group of parishes.

Saint Mary’s Church, Maynooth, glimpsed through an arch in Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth, Stoyte House, Maynooth, last night (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2010)

Saint Mary’s is a beautiful 13th century parish church, standing on the perimeter of the campus of Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth. Saint Mary’s Church and Maynooth Castle frame the college gates. The back of the church and churchyard contains fragments of the mediaeval curtain wall of the castle.

The church was originally built as a private chapel for the neighbouring castle, and in 1248 the church was made a Prebend of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin.

Like a lot of old Maynooth, the early history of Saint Mary’s is closely tied to the history of the FitzGerald family. In 1518 Garret Óg FitzGerald, son of the Great Earl of Kildare, Garret Mór FitzGerald, established a college at Maynooth Castle and rebuilt Saint Mary’s Church, annexing it to the college. The tower at the west end of the church was probably the former residence of the clergy and is all that remains of the 16th century collegiate church.

In the 1530s, the FitzGerald property was forfeited to the crown and Saint Mary became crown property. The church was extensively renovated by Richard Boyle, Earl of Cork, father-in-law of George FitzGerald, Earl of Kildare, in the 1630s at the same time as the castle was being rebuilt.

FitzGerald heraldic emblems decorate the mediaeval windows in Saint Mary’s Church, Maynooth (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2010)

During the wars of the 1640s both the castle and the church were severely damaged. But in 1770, James FitzGerald, 20th Earl of Kildare and 1st Duke of Leinster – who also built Leinster House as his town house in Dublin – repaired Saint Mary’s Church as the parish church of Maynooth. The 15th century tower later became a mausoleum for the third Duke and Duchess of Leinster.

The small organ, which we heard last night, dates from around 1820 and is one of very few untouched Telford organs remaining in Ireland. The east window, which is made of wood, comes from an old church at Laraghbryan.

Afterwards, the Revd Janice Aiton, the select vestry and the parishioners of Dunboyne and Rathmoylon Union invited us back to the Glenroyal Hotel for a reception.

It was after 11 when I left Maynooth last night. The sky was getting cloudy, but there was a still a dusky evening light and the full moon was clearly visible. And I gave thanks for ten years in ministry as a deacon and nine as a priest.

The Collect:

God our Father, Lord of all the world,
we thank you that through your Son
you have called us into the fellowship of your universal Church.
Hear our prayer for your faithful people
that in their vocation and ministry
they may be instruments of your love,
and give to these your servants now to be ordained
the needful gifts of grace;
through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Canon Patrick Comerford is Director of Spiritual Formation, the Church of Ireland Theological Institute, and a canon of Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin