Revd John McDowell bids farewell to St Mark’sFriday 26 August 2011
Revd John McDowell, Bishop of Clogher elect, had his final service as rector of St. Mark’s Dundela on Sunday 21 August 2011.
A large congregation filled the church for parish communion celebrated by rector, who also preached. Afterwards, lunch was served in the Heyn Hall and presentations made to John, his wife Mary and daughter Dorothy.
Rector’s Churchwarden”, Brian Kennedy, spoke with wit and sincerity of John’s inspiring sermons and pastoral care, of Mary’s projects, including the DVD “Our Parish”, and of her support for John in his ministry. He also thanked Dorothy for her contribution to the music group. He concluded, “This is a wondrous and joyous time, because God is calling you to a higher office in the body of the Church”. He asked for God’s blessing on the family of three.
Ellen Deehan gave a farewell present of a Dorothy bag to Dorothy, and a gift voucher and jewellery from the Youth Fellowship. Margaret Mehaffey displayed the beautiful wall–hanging given to Mary, quilted by the Creative Stitching Group. Local artist, Arnold Gardiner, then presented John with a painting of St Mark’s church. The Honorary Secretary of the Vestry, Lynn Wilson, presented John with a hassock with the logo of St Mark, a winged lion, and Angela Kerr, People’s Churchwarden, presented John with the gift of a cheque, given by the people of St Mark’s.
John spoke a few words of farewell, to add to those published in ‘The Lion’ Magazine, where he wrote fondly of his nine years serving in the Belfast parish:
”Coming as rector to St. Mark’s in 2002 seemed like a rather formidable and forbidding task at the time. However I needn’t have worried, as I met with a warm welcome and have made many friends during the past nine years. The work has been pretty constant but the group of people who surrounded me were first class, and if we achieved anything, we did so together, as a team.
”Although it may sound like something of a clergyman’s cliché, during those years I have shared in some of the most joyful and some of the most difficult moments in people’s lives. I have been welcomed into your homes in every sort of circumstance and I leave St. Mark’s an emotionally richer person than when I arrived.”
”There are very few places in the Church of Ireland like St. Mark’s, Dundela – possibly none. Certainly the building is unique, but also the tradition of worship which it sustains musically and liturgically is a prodigy of commitment in the modern Church of Ireland. We shall miss it dreadfully, and have very mixed feelings about leaving.”
Please keep John, his wife Mary and daughter Dorothy in your prayers, particularly as they settle in to their new home and school.
The service of Consecration as Bishop of Clogher will take place in St. Macartin’s Cathedral, Enniskillen on Friday 23 September 2011 at 7.00pm.
With thanks to ‘The Lion’ Magazine