Rector’s remarks at the Easter General Vestry held on 24 April 2023

Dear Friends,

How good it is to be able to meet together in person without any restrictions and with what is now a very low level of anxiety concerning covid 19.

Thanks be to God for all that has been accomplished in overcoming the threat of the virus and all that has been rebuilt of that which was temporarily lost. Looking back on the last three years it all seems a bit surreal- our church and parish centre closed, being confined to our homes, cocooning, living in fear, our movements and freedoms curtailed. With everything now back to ‘normal’ we have much to be thankful for, and hopefully the lessons learned and values we reprioritised will stay with us as we carve out a new future.

However, we must not forget those who continue to suffer as a result of the pandemic- those who lost loved ones and who couldn’t share their final moments or celebrate their lives appropriately, those whose financial situations were severely adversely affected, those who have had a medical diagnosis delayed, those continuing to suffer from long covid, and those who were isolated and are finding reintegration into society difficult.

As a parish, we will continue to seek ways to reach out and help those who need a bit of support at this time. Our monthly Coffee & Chat mornings are one way we are encouraging social reconnection as is the recent return of refreshments after the Wednesday morning service in addition to after the 10.30 Sunday services.

As we continue the process of rebuilding after Covid, we have many positives to report: attendances at our Sunday services are back pretty well to pre-Covid levels, new families and parishioners continue to join our parish, our youth club is continuing to thrive, we had the most successful Autumn Fair ever last September and our biggest Retreat yet in Co. Tipperary last month, and we have had a number of very successful social events like the International Pot Luck Supper, the Parish Breakfast and the Lenten Lunch. As you will hear from our Treasurer shortly, we are currently in a healthy financial situation due in a large part to having received more very substantial bequests from parishioners- we are indeed indebted to them and very grateful for their generosity.

However, there are some challenging trends to report also, including far fewer families with children attending Sunday worship, to the detriment of Sunday Club and the monthly Family Services. We need to find new ways and possibly new days and times to reconnect with them.

The Wednesday morning service numbers have been very small and I would encourage anyone who is free to consider making this part of your mid-week routine- it consists of a thirty minute Morning Prayer service in the church followed by hospitality in the Maxwell Room in the Parish Centre.

And we have not been able to revive the 12th Company Boys Brigade-something that will take time and effort from any interested parties if it is to be achieved.

All things considered though, I feel we are in a very fortunate position coming out of Covid and have been greatly blessed throughout. It is now time to consolidate all that is good and flourishing and to start building the future we want to have as a faith community. That future suddenly looked very different from how any of us would have imagined it when we lost our dear friend and colleague, Mark Acheson.

In fact, sadly, since we last gathered together as a General Vestry on 31 March last year we have lost a number of stalwarts we held dear, and I will be remembering them all by name a little later on, but I have to take a few moments firstly to address the enormous loss we all suffered with the news of Mark’s death last October.

Many of you will have known Mark a lot longer than I did while some of our newer parishioners might only have been getting to know him, but regardless of how long or how well we knew him, we can all attest to his warmth, wisdom, kindness, friendliness, sincerity, integrity and wit. His dedication to this parish was limitless- as a Lay Reader, a BB leader, a Select Vestry Member, a Parochial Nominator, and in so many other ways. You could always count on Mark to support and encourage anyone or anything that needed it. As a colleague, he was a complete joy to work with and I personally miss that constant support and encouragement. I know that many of you also still feel his absence greatly.

The days around his funeral have been among the most difficult days in my ministry but also genuinely contributed some of the most incredible experiences I have had in ministry- a whole parish united in grief for a much-loved friend, united in support for his much loved family, and united in a commitment to give him the best send off humanly possible. Pride might well be one of the seven deadly sins but I could not be prouder of how we pulled together to achieve just that, in very difficult circumstances.

But we are an Easter people, so let us not forget that Mark, who served the Lord so well in this life, now stands in his nearer presence and sees him face to face. Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory. The new Select Vestry will be liaising with Mark’s family about putting an appropriate memorial in place.

I also want to remember with thanksgiving the other members of our parish who have gone home to God since our last Easter General Vestry Meeting, many of whom also served in various ways: Thelma Turner, Gerald Franck, Bill O’Meara, Valerie Sheridan, Maureen Dixon, Jeanne Colvin, Maureen Macartney, Olive Condell, Derek Stewart and Harry Poff. We prayerfully hold them in memory during a minute’s silence…..

Thank you. An appropriate as it is to honour the dead, it is equally important to honour the living and tonight I want to publicly thank and pay tribute to the very many people who contribute to the life and wellbeing of this parish:

Trevor Garrett, who works tirelessly to ensure that both our church and Parish Centre are well maintained and clean, that our grounds are kept neat and tidy, and that our Centre users have what they need in place when they need it. Trevor has indicated his desire to reduce his hours and his duties in a transition towards retirement. Not only will he be a hard act to follow, but he will be an impossible act to follow, as we are unlikely to find someone else with all the necessary skills and attributes to replace him. We will probably begin the transfer of duties by acquiring contract cleaners for the Parish Centre- if any of you can recommend a company please let us know. But thank you Trevor, for all you have done, all you continue to do, and all we hope you’ll do in the future!

Jonathan Boyle who manages most of the affairs of the Parish Centre, including liaising with the licensees, timetabling, correspondence, chasing down payments, and much more, all on a voluntary basis and while juggling a busy work and family life. We promise, we will call in the reinforcements soon!

Kris McCaffrey and Ola Obikoya our out-going church wardens for their commitment to their tasks and their vital ministry of welcome. Kris consistently travels all the way from his home in Monaghan to perform his duties, which he always does with warmth and good humour. And Ola and her entire family travel from Santry every week so that she can be in good time to greet everyone at the door with her cheery welcome and lovely smile. Both Kris and Ola are always willing to assist our worship in any way possible, and that is much appreciated by me and I’m sure by all who are present each week.

Stephanie Maxwell, our wonderful organist, whose talent is matched only by her cooperative and supportive nature, and to her mum, Sandra, who usually steps in ably if Stephanie is unavailable.

Denis Henderson, Damien Peat, Ronan Kelly, Jennifer Kelly and Philip Godden, who take turns to act as wardens for the 8.30am Sunday service.

Trevor Knott and John Davis, our outgoing Glebe Wardens, for their work in keeping the Rectory and the Church Grounds in good condition.

Albert Adamson who organises the readers rota every week and carries out the monthly parish lodgements- both duties he inherited when he became church warden some years ago but with which we cunningly left him subsequently.

Nadine Watters, who continues to serve diligently and expertly as our honorary treasurer, including keeping us up to speed with the increasingly onerous requirements of charities governance.

Sandie Stirling, who lodges and keeps track of the donations made in the church envelopes and organises the tax reclaims on all eligible donations. This additional income from planned giving, recorded confidentially, is hugely important to the parish- if any of you are not already on this scheme and think you might be eligible, please get in touch.

Rachel Rossney, our honorary secretary of the Select Vestry for taking the minutes, including tonight, and for issuing notice of meetings.

The Youth Club leaders who help me run our monthly gathering for secondary school aged young people. Having lost two key leaders last year when Nick and Aoife Schofield returned to Canada, I worried about the sustainability of this ministry but was blessed with the addition of three new volunteers, Michelle Lynch, Karl Black and Gillian Grant, in addition to Kris McCaffrey, who continues in his role as a leader. We usually have between twenty five and thirty teenagers each month, including those preparing for Confirmation.

Brendan Teeling, our webmaster, for keeping our website and Twitter account up to date.

Arthur Parkinson and Michelle Kelly, our Safeguarding Trust panel members.

Iris Acheson, who quietly makes sure the church linens are kept laundered, and to her and the other ladies who help with the church flowers and decorating, particularly Heather Hunter and Hazel McCullough.

The organising committee of the Autumn Fair: Clive Jackson, Jonathan Boyle, John Patten and Rachel Rossney, and all whose trojan work over the weekend of the Fair makes it possible.

All who take turns in providing and serving the refreshments after church each Sunday: another very valuable component of our ministry of hospitality.

The members of the outgoing Select Vestry for their commitment to the parish, and to the outgoing Parochial Nominators and the outgoing members of the Diocesan Synod.

All the volunteers on the church dusting rota and Sandra Maxwell who coordinates it, and those on the lesson reading rota who proclaim the scriptures for us week by week.

I hope I haven’t left anyone out! We certainly have a vibrant parish and a great team of people involved but I did note as I was compiling this list, that in many cases the same names are present every year. We would love to spread the load and would welcome the involvement of new people.

As we look to the future, I am delighted to report that both Kris McCaffrey and Ziva Newman have been selected and commenced training as Diocesan Lay Readers. We wish them well in their studies and look forward to them becoming more involved in our worship in the future. Please keep them in your prayers.

In conclusion, may I thank you all for your continued support and friendship as I approach the 10th anniversary of my Institution as Rector of Clontarf in September- it continues to be a huge pleasure and privilege. I will also be celebrating another milestone in ministry this year- on 22nd June, God willing, I will be 20 years ordained as a Priest. I hope to mark this occasion with a service of Holy Communion in the Church followed by refreshments in the Parish Centre- and I hope as many of you as possible will join me.

Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to
accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine,
to him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus to all
generations, for ever and ever. Amen. (Eph.3:20-21).

Easter General Vestry Meeting – 8 p.m. on 24 April 2023

The General Vestry meeting is similar to an AGM, when those present will hear a review of the main happenings of the past twelve months, get a chance to hear and discuss plans for the future, and be presented with the parish accounts for year ended 31 December 2022.

The meeting will also elect members to the Select Vestry (the management committee of the Parish); People’s Church Warden (assists on Sunday mornings and other events) and Glebe’s Warden ( responsible for upkeep of Rectory & church grounds).

The Rector will announce her choice for the appointments of Rector’s Church Warden and Rector’s Glebe’s Warden.

As this is a triennial election year, we will also have to elect people to represent the parish at the next three Diocesan Synods and people to serve as Parochial Nominators (members of the committee which would be charged with the appointment of a new rector in case of a vacancy).

While only those on the official parish general register are entitled to vote (should a vote arise), everyone is welcome to attend and speak.

We hope to see a many families represented as possible, so whether you are new to the parish or a seasoned veteran; whether you are a regular worshipper or an occasional attender; whether you are very involved already or happy on the periphery, your presence is eagerly desired and will be greatly appreciated.

Coming along to the meeting does not mean you will be given a job or commit you to a deeper level of involvement than is comfortable for you! But please show your interest and a sense of ownership of our wonderful parish by coming along. It is anticipated that the meeting will last approximately an hour.

Keeping us all safe from Covid…

Due to the very high incidence of Covid in the community at present, we are requesting that people continue wearing masks, sanitising their hands and social distancing.


Remember, all our services are broadcast live on our parish website and the main Sunday service will be recorded and available to view later on the website and our Facebook page.

If you plan on watching at home you can download/view the service sheet for the 10.30 service here:

We need to sing again! A message from the Rector

Following the Taoiseach’s announcement yesterday evening, we will once more be singing hymns!

As well as retaining our obligation to wear masks, we will be maintaining our policy of only using every second pew, as we have ample space to accommodate everyone. We will no longer need to collect contact tracing details

Other Covid protocols which we will be continuing to apply in the church to keep us all safe:

  • Please sanitise your hands on arrival.
  • The order of service will be on the screens but books will be available for those who ask.
  • Holy Communion will be administered in both kinds- wafers will be used instead of bread, and individual communion glasses will be used.
  • Collection plates will not be passed around – baskets will be available at the back of the church.
  • Church doors will be left open during the service for ventilation purposes.
  • Pews will be disinfected in between services.

Remember, all our services will be broadcast live on our parish website through our webcam and the 10.30 service will also be accessible later on the website and our Facebook page, so nobody should feel an obligation to attend in person if they are nervous about doing so.

Pet Service on Sunday 22nd August

We look forward to welcoming our furry friends to worship with us once again at the 10.30 service on 29 August. Weather permitting, the service will be outdoors which allows for greater numbers to attend. We also hope to serve refreshments outdoors after the service!
Watch the forecast and your emails nearer the time for confirmation. Helpers will be needed for set up and take down 🙂

Church reopens for services on 16th May

We are looking forward to being able to welcome back worshipers into the church from this Sunday, 16th May.

As usual, we will have an 8:30am and a 10:30am service every Sunday morning. Attendances will be limited to a maximum of 50 people per service, and the following Covid protocols will apply:

  • Face coverings must be worn unless medically exempt.
  • Please sanitise your hands on arrival.
  • Please adhere to social distancing when arriving, leaving or queueing for Holy Communion.
  • No books or service sheets will be supplied – the order of service will be on the screens.
  • Holy Communion will be administered in one kind only – wafers will be used instead of bread.
  • Collection plates will not be passed around – baskets will be available at the back of the church.
  • Church doors will be left open during the service for ventilation purposes.
  • Pews will be disinfected in between services.
  • Please do not congregate in the church grounds before or after church.

Remember, all our services will be broadcast live on our parish website through our webcam and will also be accessible later on the website and our Facebook page, so nobody should feel an obligation to attend in person if they are nervous about doing so.

Rector’s remarks at the Easter General Vestry, 7th April 2021

They say time flies when you are having fun, and it certainly doesn’t feel like a year since our last Easter General Vestry Meeting. Of course, that may be because it hasn’t been a year since our last Easter General Vestry Meeting!

In the midst of all the uncertainty last year, the central Church allowed the parishes to postpone these meetings and hold them outside the designated times dictated by the Constitution so, in order to meet the public health requirements, we met last September in the church building and incorporated our meeting into an Act of Worship.

This year for whatever reason, no such allowance has been made, and so I apologise to any of our parishioners who would have liked to attend an -in-person meeting but didn’t feel equipped to attend online.

In the intervening time since our last Easter General Vestry meeting, our church has been closed more often than not. None of our in-person activities have been able to resume, and while we now see light at the end of the tunnel with the continuing roll-out of the vaccine, we know we are not there yet. So, while we look forward to being able to reopen our church again when restrictions are eased, I believe it is right to wait until we can do so safely, without putting anyone at risk.

Thankfully, God’s presence is not confined our beautiful buildings, and we continue to worship him and gather together virtually through the wonders of modern technology.

Without doubt the hardest part of trying to minister throughout this last year has been at the times of death and bereavement. It has been heart-breaking not to be able to be with some stalwarts of this parish as they were passing from this world, or not to be able to give them the send off they deserved, or to give their grieving families the support they deserved.

Tonight we remember with thanksgiving the lives and witness of those whom we have lost since the last Easter General Vestry Meeting: Dorothy Taylor; Alan Harper; Cecil Medcalf; Freddy Condell, and Sylvia Larmour. We keep a few moments silence in their honour…

Out of the difficulty and frustration of trying to support grieving families this past year, the new Dublin Bereavement Support Service has come. Under the auspices of Clontarf Parish, this is an initiative of which we should all feel proud, and I wish to thank Jim Kieran and Tony Walsh along with all the volunteer counsellors for bringing it to fruition. Free, professional, bereavement support is available to all who need it through the website please feel free to spread the word to any who might benefit from this service.

In any normal year, the list of people I want to thank publicly is long: that is because we are blessed with a vibrant parish in which many people play a vital role. Tonight, I particularly want to thank the people who have supported my efforts to continue to minister effectively to our parishioners and keep us all connected in the course of the ongoing pandemic:

  • Rev. Anne Lodge and Mark Acheson for their support and contributions to all the online services, and the few in-person services we have had since last September. I would also like to thank all those who take part in the services by recording readings, and Albert Adamson who organises the readers rota every week.
  • Trevor Garrett, who has spent much of the past year working inside and outside an empty Parish Centre, but who has ensured that both our church and centre have been maintained and cleaned, and our grounds have been kept and indeed enhanced.
  • Jonathan Boyle who has had the unenviable task of liaising with all the Parish Centre users in the midst of much uncertainty and shifting goal posts.
  • Our out-going church wardens Rhoda McConnell and Ola Obikoya who took such care to make sure in-church worship was conducted safely for as long as we were allowed to do so, and for their counterparts at the 8.30am service, especially Denis Henderson.
  • To John Davis, who single-handedly cleaned the pews which had been used at the 8.30 service before the 10.30 service, for as long as we could meet in-person, and to Stephanie Maxwell, our organist, who happily played our favourite hymns before and after services in the church, even though we couldn’t sing them.
  • To Nadine Watters, who jumped through many hoops to get our online banking set up and has ensured that all bills and financial obligations have been met throughout lockdown.
  • Sandie Stirling, who has continued to lodge the donations made in the church envelopes and to ensure that the tax has been reclaimed on all eligible donations.
  • To Brendan Teeling, our webmaster, for keeping our website up to date and for setting up the donate button which has allowed online donations to be made.
  • To all the parishioners who supported the raffle before Christmas, making it our most successful raffle ever, despite not being able to sell tickets at Nolan’s or the Autumn Fair, and to all who have dropped in donations or made online donations throughout the period of church closures. As you will hear from our Treasurer in a little while, we have been spared the financial devastation which some parishes have endured this past year, thanks to all those who have continued to contribute to our parish finances, and even more so thanks to the generosity of some of our dear departed who left substantial legacies to the parish. We are indeed indebted to them.
  • To the team of people who have delivered letters through countless letterboxes, helping me to keep in touch with parishioners, and to Philip Godden who has delivered many Church Reviews while the church has been closed.
  • Jeanne Colvin, who not only continues to act as secretary to the Select Vestry but has taken on the new role of Safeguarding Trust Panel member as well.
  • The Glebe Wardens, Grahame Walsh and John Davis for looking after any issues with the Rectory.
  • And last but not least, to all who encouraged me and kept me going by your kind comments and affirming messages over the course of this incredibly difficult year. I look forward to rebuilding in time all that we have lost during the pandemic and know that with your help and support we will come back stronger than ever.

As we continue to face the challenges of the present and look forward to a brighter future, we are reminded once again of God’s faithfulness to us in good times and bad. We have been afflicted but not crushed; perplexed but not driven to despair; persecuted but not forsaken; struck down but not perplexed. We go forward in the faith of the Risen Christ and do not lose heart. Thanks be to God who gives us the victory.

#Clontarf Parish Easter General Vestry Meeting Wednesday 7 April at 8pm via Zoom

The annual Easter Vestry meeting will be held on Zoom at 8pm on Wednesday 7th April.

Everyone is welcome to attend but only registered general vestry members will be able to vote or be elected to an office. Voting will be done online via Mentimeter so it would be helpful to have a second-internet enabled device (e.g. phone or tablet) with you on the night, especially where two members of one household wish to vote.

The Zoom link is in the parish Social Matters email newsletter. If you don’t have access to the newsletter, please contact the Rector.