Hundreds of worshippers packed St Columba’s Parish Church in Omagh on Sunday for the largest Ordination Service seen in the Derry and Raphoe Diocese for almost ten years.
Among the four new Deacon-Interns ordained by Bishop Ken Good was Rev Elizabeth Fitzgerald, who had previously been confirmed and married in St Columba’s. The other candidates were Rhys Jones, Chris MacBruithin and Robert Wray.
The Service posed a huge logistical challenge for the Rector of Drumragh with Mountfield Parish, Rev Ian Linton and his team; visitors from other parishes and dioceses in Ireland, Britain and even from as far away as the United States joined family and friends of the four ordinands.
The Archdeacon of Raphoe, Ven. David Huss – who had spent some time with the candidates on retreat in South Donegal recently – preached the sermon at the Service. He said it had been a long journey for all four and that it had been a privilege to share the very last part with them.
Archdeacon Huss said the first reading in the Service (Isaiah 6: 1-8), was one of the few in the Bible which arguably gave a description of an ordination taking place, as the prophet was set apart and commissioned for the work God had for him. “It was a day that changed Isaiah’s life,” Archdeacon Huss said.
He asked the congregation to look closely at the reading, as it described the various stages of “this great process of ordination”. Isaiah’s ordination had begun with a vision of the utter ‘glory’ of God. The second scene saw ‘ruin’ – Isaiah cried “Woe to me”. The third stage brought ‘atonement’, “the centrepiece of this whole drama of Isaiah, in verse 6”. And finally there was ‘commission’, when Isaiah said, “Here am I. Send me!”
Archdeacon Huss reminded those present that the Diocese was moving into 2016 – a Year of Opportunity for the Church. The Lord not only wanted to bring us in but to send us out, he said. “It may be that the Lord is calling to one or two people here to be in a few years’ time where these four are – in ordained ministry – or in most cases that he is seeking to send you to be a blessing in your place of work, your neighbourhood, your family, or indeed in the dark places of our communities.
“What is God saying to each of us through Isaiah, chapter 6? Perhaps one of those four things speaks to you. Perhaps it’s about His glory, that really what you need is to have your eyes opened, to see that God is not trivial but that He needs to be brought centre-stage in your life. Perhaps that second scene – where there’s ruin; perhaps what the Lord is calling you to this evening is to repent and to turn back to Him. Perhaps it’s that third thing, atonement – that the Lord’s message for you is that your guilt has been taken away and your sin atoned for; perhaps it’s an assurance of His grace that is the very thing you needed to hear. Or maybe it’s the commission – today God is calling you into some sphere of service or of ministry. I wonder what your answer will be?”
Concluding his sermon, Archdeacon Huss prayed that God’s richest blessings would be upon the four new deacons over the days, weeks and years ahead.
The Service continued with the four candidates joining Bishop Good on the altar to make their declarations of faith and for the ‘laying on of hands’, when the Bishop prayed that they be given “grace and power to fulfil their ministry”.
After the service, the new Deacons processed from St Columba’s Church – accompanied by representatives of their parishes and the diocese – and made their way to the nearby Parish Hall for refreshments and speeches. Bishop Good thanked the Rector, Rev Linton, for planning the Service, and those who had provided music for the occasion, including the choir. He also expressed gratitude to the Church Wardens, and to the ladies and gentlemen who provided refreshments for the scores of well-wishers.
The four deacons will continue their studies while they are assigned to their various parishes. Rev Elizabeth Fitzgerald will serve as Deacon-Intern in Donagheady; Rev Robert Wray will go to Christ Church, Culmore, Muff and St Peter’s; Rev Rhys Jones is going to Castledawson: and Rev Chris MacBruithin will serve in St Augustine’s, in Derry.