30 November 2013

A memorable afternoon at the consecration of
Bishop Pat Storey in Christ Church Cathedral

Peace and calm in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, at noon as the final touches were put to preparations (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

Patrick Comerford

It was wonderful to be part of the momentous events in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, this afternoon when the Most Revd Patricia Storey was consecrated Bishop of Meath and Kildare.

It was an afternoon that saw Church of Ireland liturgy – and cathedral music at its best, led by the Cathedral Choir.

The principal consecrating bishop was Archbishop Michael Jackson of Dublin, assisted by Bishop Paul Colton of Cork, Cloyne and Ross, and Bishop Ken Good of Derry and Raphoe.

Most of the bishops of the Church of Ireland were present, apart from Bishop Michael Burrows of Cashel, Ferns and Ossory, who is on sabbatical leave in Swaziland, and Bishop Ferran Glenfield of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh

Retired bishops of the Church of Ireland present included a former Archbishop of Dublin, Bishop Walton Empey, and Bishop Ken Clarke, Bishop Edward Darling, Bishop Samuel Poyntz and Bishop Roy Warke.

Participants and guests line up in the cloister garth to welcome the new bishop (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

The Archbishop of Canterbury was represented by Archdeacon Sheila Watson. Also present were by the Primus, Bishop David Chillingworth, and Bishop Mark Strange of Moray, Ross and Caithness, from the Scottish Episcopal Church; Archbishop Barry Morgan of the Church in Wales; and Bishop Karsten Nissen of the Church of Denmark.

Other Church leaders and ecumenical guests included the Revd Dr Heather Morris, President of the Methodist Church in Ireland; the Right Revd Dr Rob Craig, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland; Bishop Denis Nulty of Kildare and Leighlin; Monsignor Dermot Farrell, present on behalf of the Bishop of Meath; Monsignor Hugh G Connolly, President of Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth; Dr Gesa Thiessen of the Lutheran Church; Father Godfrey O’Donnell of the Romanian Orthodox Church and the Irish Council of Churches. Dr Ali Selim represented the Islamic Community.

The setting was Franz Schubert’s Mass in G, with organ voluntaries by Maurice DuruflĂ©, and motets by Thomas Tallis and Anton Bruckner. The singling of the litany was led by the Revd Eugene Griffin, a Deacon-Intern in Taney Parish, Dublin.

The Scripture reading were read by the Revd Earl Storey, Bishop Storey’s husband, Mrs Deirdre Amor from Saint Augustine’s Parish, Derry, and the Revd Trevor Holmes, deacon-intern in the parish of Julianstown, Co Meath.

My stall as the sixth canon in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

The cathedral chapter members sat in our stalls, and I was asked to assist with the administration of Holy Communion at the West End of the cathedral.

Afterwards, there was a lavish reception in the State Apartments in Dublin Castle this evening, with an opportunity to linger awhile with friends old and new.

I am back in the Cathedral in the morning, the First Sunday of Advent [1 December 2013], to preach at the Cathedral Eucharist at 11 a.m., and to take part in the Advent Procession at 5 p.m.

Leaving the State Apartments in Dublin Castle this evening (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

In Brigid’s footsteps

This morning’s edition of The Irish Times carries the following editorial comment:

The Most Revd Patricia Louise Storey ... consecrated as Bishop of Meath and Kildare in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, this afternoon

In Brigid’s footsteps

The consecration of the Most Revd Patricia Louise Storey today as Bishop of Meath and Kildare marks a major milestone, for she is the first woman to become a bishop in the Church of Ireland since the General Synod approved the ordination of women as priests and as bishops in 1990. A year earlier, Barbara Harris became the first woman bishop in the Anglican Communion when she was ordained in Massachusetts.

Since 1990, women have become priests, rectors, canons and cathedral deans in the Church of Ireland, and so for many the time is overdue for a woman bishop. On the other hand, Bishop Storey’s consecration draws attention to the way the Church of England is dragging its feet on this question because of the prejudices of an unholy alliance formed by the extreme fringes of Anglo-Catholics and conservative evangelicals. Similar prejudices, although more muted, are being heard against Bishop Storey’s consecration in the Church of Ireland too.

Meath and Kildare is a united diocese that is spread widely, with sixteen parishes in six or seven counties, from the banks of the Shannon to the coastline of Co Meath. As a priest who has spent most of her ordained ministry since 1997 in urban and city settings, the new bishop moves into a largely rural diocese. But she also faces the challenges posed by long-neglected urban areas on Dublin’s outer rim where commuters’ worries include negative equity, falling salaries, unemployment and difficulties in finding day care for children.

Bishop Storey will need to tread carefully initially in a diocese where the first person chosen as bishop felt compelled to withdraw and where a second electoral college was divided and failed to elect. Yet, as Bishop of Meath and Kildare, she becomes the most senior bishop in the Church of Ireland, after the Archbishops of Armagh and Dublin. She will hope to be a worthy successor to Saint Brigid of Kildare who, according to legend, was consecrated a bishop by Saint Patrick’s blind nephew, the elderly Saint Mel of Ardagh.