[Remarks by Rev’d Robinson at the General Vestry on 8th May 2019.]
I’m glad of this annual opportunity for us to reflect
on the past twelve months in the life of our Parish, and to thank the myriads
of people who work, often in the background, to ensure the smooth running of
our worship and witness.
2018 was a very busy year which in addition to all our
usual events, saw the addition of a Choral Competition promoting the
performance and enjoyment of hymns and religious songs. Our church is a
wonderful venue and having now held two such competitions it is great to see the
popularity of this event continuing to grow. Next year we plan to introduce a
special category for parish choirs. Thanks are due to Nicole Robinson, for
instigating and organising the competition; and to the large team who look
after the staging, lighting and catering on the day.
We also held our second Ecumenical Conference, which
was well received by all who attended, despite disappointing numbers. It is our
hope to continue this conference, perhaps bi-annually, and will be trying to
secure some funding to subsidise its running. On a practical level, ecumenism
continues to be at the forefront of our mission, with participation in the Good
Friday Walk of Witness, the Easter morning Sunrise service, The Pentecost Peace
Walk, along with the regular Bible studies led by Fr. Martin Hogan and myself.
The clergy of the six different parishes meet for lunch throughout the year,
and I am welcomed to participate at the First Holy Communion and Confirmation
services of the Roman Catholic children attending Greenlanes National School- all
good work in building up the Kingdom of God in Clontarf.
I’m delighted to say that 2018 was our most successful
Autumn Fair to date, clearing over €20,000. This remains our primary annual
fundraiser and it takes a mammoth team effort to get such a result. The success
of last year was due in part to an increase in raffle ticket sales, and in
spite of the fact that many of our usual helpers were away on the weekend of
the Fair. The cost of such success was many exhausted bodies by the time the
tidy up was completed that night. For your information, the Autumn Fair always
takes place on the last Sunday of September – I would genuinely appeal to you
therefore to mark it down in your diary now and do you best to be available to
help over the course of the weekend- a large team of able bodied helpers makes
a huge difference to the viability of what has become a major community event
in Clontarf and its environs.
During this past year we have increased the number of
opportunities for spiritual growth and development – something which must
remain a priority of any parish. In addition to the weekly prayer group,
monthly Healer Prayer group, and regular Bible studies, we now hold regular
Quiet Days and parish Retreats. These are times of fellowship and gentle reflection
and are to be commended to all to seek to deepen their relationships with God,
and to find the peace and quiet which often escapes us in the busy daily
routines of our lives.
In 2018 we also welcomed the Rev’d Professor Anne
Lodge as part of our Ministry Team. Anne works in the self-supporting ministry
and despite an already demanding schedule has generously offered her time and considerable
talents to us a Curate.
This too is an exciting development as we seek to
reach an ever-diversifying audience with the good news of Jesus Christ.
Once again last year we
were blessed in this parish with a large number of baptisms, fourteen in all
since our last Easter General Vestry Meeting- and we will continue to encourage
those families to engage with the life of the local church. We had two weddings
in our beautiful parish church in 2018: Russell Clancy and Charlotte Atherton
who came over from England to be married here in August, and Andrea Finnegan
and Neil O’Briain who were married in November.
Sadly, the last thirteen
months have seen a much higher than usual number of funerals in this parish,
and we have lost some faithful servants and stalwarts. Tonight we remember with
thanksgiving the late David Appleyard, Molly Reynolds, Olive Jackson, Bruce
Maxwell, Olive Poff, Violet Dawkins, Sam Warner, Ted Jones and Edna Clark – all
of whom have passed away since our last Easter Vestry meeting – I ask you to
keep a few moments silence in their honour…
While each of these
deaths represents a particular loss to this parish and of course a much bigger
loss to the families concerned, I must make special mention tonight of Bruce
Maxwell, who has been by my side at every Easter General Vestry meeting I have
had since coming to this parish in 2013. Not only was Bruce the Honorary
Secretary of the Select and General Vestries, but among many other parish roles
held through the years, he was instrumental and integral to the design,
building and running of this wonderful parish centre. The Select Vestry and
myself were anxious to acknowledge his immeasurable contribution in some way,
and so tonight, with the agreement of the Maxwell family, I am pleased to
announce that we are renaming the Meeting Room in this Parish Centre, the
Maxwell Room, as a perpetual witness to his legacy.
At this point I would
also like to acknowledge with gratitude the support and sympathy shown to me by
all of you since the untimely death of my dear sister Gwyn last August –
despite our grief, the girls and I are blessed to be surrounded by such love:
I also want to take this opportunity to say a public
‘thank you’ to the many people who give of their time and talents to keep the
parish running so smoothly.
To that end, may I take this opportunity to thank in
colleagues, Anne Lodge and Mark Acheson, for their assistance and support in
worship, ministry and administration.
outgoing churchwardens, Olwen Lynch and Ziva Newman, for their dedicated and
efficient service in their respective roles (Olwen over two years), and also those
who filled in for them when they were absent. I also want to thank the team of
volunteers who look after set-up and welcome at the 8.30 Sunday morning
services- Tom Waller, Damien Peat, Ronan & Jennifer Kelly, Denis Henderson
and Philip Godden.
outgoing Glebe wardens, Jonathan Boyle and John Davis, who are always on hand
to help sort out any problems related to the rectory or church grounds, along
with Jonathan’s continued oversight of the church.
organist, John Rowden, our reserve organists, Sandra and Stephanie Maxwell.
members of the outgoing Select Vestry for their care of the fabric, furnishings
outgoing Honorary Treasurer Nadine Watters for her consistent dedication and
expertise in keeping our accounts and ensuring we are compliant with the charity’s
legislation, and also to Albert Adamson who looks after the lodgements so efficiently.
Garrett, for his invaluable work in the Parish Centre and the Church, and for
all the events to which he contributes so much- what a wonderful ambassador he
is for this parish
Boyle, who has taken over the lion’s share of the work of the PCMC.
members of the Needs Group, under the leadership of Mary Cunningham, who take
on much of the planning and the practical work around most of our parish
Club leaders: Elma Jackson, Helen Rosaldo, Heather Hunter, John Davis, Jean
Acheson, Derek Shaw, and Martin & Lisa Murphy – we have more leaders now
than previously and their ministry is greatly appreciated by our young
Walker, Vimal Raj, and Mark Acheson, who along with myself, coordinate and run
the youth activities. However, we have been struggling with low numbers and the
future of the youth club will very much depend on a greater degree of
engagement from our teenagers.
Atkin, Principal, Greenlanes NS, for preparing the school children for Family Services
and Helen Rosaldo, who marshals the children in the church.
who read the lessons week by week; Albert Adamson, who coordinates the Readers’
rota, and Shirley Davies, Olwen Lynch, Albert Adamson and Ziva Newman who help
administer the Chalice at Holy Communion as needed.
who decorate the church and keep it adorned with flowers, especially Iris
Acheson, Heather Hunter, Sheena Harper, Maureen Dixon & Hazel McCullagh. Also
thanks to Iris for keeping the fair linen beautifully laundered, one of those
tasks that just happen invisibly in the background.
Ladies who dust the church each week on a rota basis and their coordinator,
who provide refreshments after church, and Dorothy Godden, co-ordinator. We
will need to get a rota in place for the Summer months, so a request will be
going out in due course.
& John O’Neill for all their help with catering special events (cue a plug
for the parish breakfast next Sunday), and all who supply homemade traybakes
and sandwiches when required. Our hospitality is acclaimed far and near.
Stirling, stewardship recorder
Garrett, who administers the columbarium
Kinch, car parking attendant for funerals
and those who help to run all the parish organisations including BB, Guides, Prayer
Groups, Badminton Club, Tennis Club, Indoor Bowls Club, Table Tennis Club,
Mothers’ Union & Whist Drives.
Boyle for producing the weekly Notice Sheet and Brendan Teeling for maintaining
Parkinson and Ciara Burns for their work alongside myself on the Safeguarding
Ashley & friends who lead the music worship at our monthly Evening Praise
who help run all the various events that make up our varied spiritual, social
and fundraising calendar.
That is indeed a long
list, and a lot of people – we are incredibly blessed to have such a wonderful
team of willing helpers. However, we do need to make sure that the load is
spread, and so we are always grateful of new people coming on board,
particularly for events which require set up and clean up.
Three has also been a
distinct if unintentional trend for this to become an increasingly female
dominated parish in some regards. We currently have a female rector, a female
curate, two female churchwardens, a female treasurer, and a 13-4 ratio of women
to men on the outgoing Select Vestry. This is in stark contrast to the opposite
kind of gender imbalance I encountered when I arrived – so I want to encourage all
you men to step up and play your part in ensuring that this parish continues to
be an inclusive community, to which everyone relates, where all people are
equally valued, regardless of age, gender or any other labels society may chose
to put on us.
Finally, I want to thank
my two daughters, Nicole and Danielle, for their help and support, love and
laughter, and for always, always keeping me humble!
I truly feel so blessed
to be the Rector of Clontarf – this is my 6th Easter Vestry here,
and I still can’t believe my luck to have been appointed to this wonderful
parish. I pray that together we will continue to go from strength to strength
and to shine as a light in this community, reflecting the glory of our risen
Lord and Saviour.
To God be the glory. Amen.