Archbishop resists break-up of Church of Ireland diocese

Proposal would see 800-year-old Dublin and Glendalough diocese lose six parishes

Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin Michael Jackson has called a meeting over a proposal which would see the break-up of an 800 year old diocese. Photograph : Matt Kavanagh/The Irish Times

Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin Michael Jackson has called a meeting over a proposal which would see the break-up of an 800 year old diocese. Photograph : Matt Kavanagh/The Irish Times

 

A meeting has been called by the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin and Glendalough Michael Jackson to discuss proposed changes which would see it lose six parishes to Meath and Kildare diocese.

The meeting will take place at the parish centre in Athy, Co Kildare on April 20th.

The proposal by the Church’s Commission on Episcopal Ministry and Structures means the archdiocese would lose parishes at Leixlip and Lucan; Celbridge and Straffan with Newcastle-Lyons; Blessington and Manor Kilbride with Ballymore-Eustace and Hollywood; Donoughmore and Donard with Dunlavin; Narraghmore and Timolin with Castledermot and Kinneigh; and Athy, Kilberry and Fontstown with Kilkea.

The proposal will be discussed at the church’s General Synod in Dublin next month.

In a pastoral letter to be read at all churches in the archdiocese Archbishop Jackson has noted how “our two dioceses were confirmed as a united diocese in 1216. We have remained united to this day. This year, in 2016, we mark 800 years of united diocesan life. This unity has survived the Reformation and the ravages of Oliver Cromwell. Our shared faith and communal respect for one another across the united dioceses are the lifeblood of our witness to the Gospel.”

He said the commisison which recommended the changes visited diocesan councils last December but “this proposal was not mentioned. Neither was it mentioned when members of the commission consulted members of Dublin and Glendalough Diocesan Synods in October 2014”.

“Neither has it formed any part of the Commission’s reports made to General Synod on an annual basis,” he said.

He also felt “duty bound to alert members of parishes to the inevitable financial consequences” if the proposals went ahead. “As things stand, in our 800th year of united and shared witness, we have a wonderful combination of rural and urban life that we share with one another and with others within the love of God,” he said.

Another major proposal would see a reduction in the number of Church of Ireland dioceses from 12 to 11, with Tuam, Killala and Achonry being incorporated into two other dioceses.

The Commission proposes that Tuam and Killala would join with Limerick and Killaloe to form a new diocese in the West with its Bishop based in Limerick, while Achonry would join the Dioceses of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh.

The changes would come into effect when there is a vacancy in either Tuam, Killala and Achonry or Limerick and Killaloe, but not before the General Synod of 2017.

The Commission on Episcopal Ministry was established four years ago by General Synod to reform the dioceses of the Church of Ireland and their composition as well as levelling up the number of parishes in each diocese.

Archbishop Jackson said the meeting in Athy on April 20th “may continue as long as is required on that evening to facilitate a full and open discussion and debate around an issue that touches the heart of each and every one of us.”