A week of vast emotional contrasts for the Church of Ireland Diocese of Derry and Raphoe ended on a joyful note late on Sunday afternoon with the installation of Rt Rev Andrew Forster as Bishop of Raphoe.
The service took place in St Eunan’s Cathedral Raphoe just over 24 hours after the funeral of one of the bishop’s predecessors as Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Rt Rev Dr James Mehaffey, at St Columb’s Cathedral in Londonderry.
Parishioners and friends from across the community gathered to celebrate an historic occasion for the diocese as Bishop Forster accepted his mandate and was placed in the Episcopal Seat of the Cathedral Church of Saint Eunan by the Dean of Raphoe, Very Rev Arthur Barrett.
There were representatives present from right across civic life – from an Garda Siochana, Minister for Education Joe McHugh, business, the health sector, community groups, scouting and guiding organisations – as well as from the four main Churches.
Also present was the Bishop of Mahajanga in Madagascar, Rt Rev Hall Speers, originally from the Parish of Urney near Strabane, who returns to his diocese in the Indian Ocean on Monday.
Bishop Alan McGuckian was unable to attend but was represented by the Parish Priest of Raphoe, Fr Eamonn Kelly.
In his sermon, Bishop Forster recalled the words of Archbishop Richard Clarke at the Service of Consecration in Armagh Cathedral just over a month ago, when the Primate handed over the pastoral staff – the crozier – of the Diocese: “Keep watch over the flock, of which the Holy Spirit has appointed you shepherd; encourage the faithful; restore the lost; and build up the body of Christ.”
In the final speech, Bishop Forster encouraged people to pray for political representatives north and south as they sought to build up communities and build up our common life.
He urged people not to be too hard on politicians and he led those present in a prayer for members of the Dáil and of the newly-restored Northern Ireland Assembly.Tags: