Magheracloone and Ardragh Group of Parishes
The Rectory, Drumconrath Road,
Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan, Ireland
In Charge: The Rural Dean, The Rev. Canon Ian Berry, The Rectory, Clones Road, Monaghan.
While we understand that adult believers
Baptism is the
believe it is proper to baptise the infant children of
believers on the understanding that they will be brought up 'in the
fear and nurture of the Lord'. In this we believe we are
following the example of those Apostles who baptised whole
households. We require baptised members to make their own
public decision for
the Lord when they come for Confirmation. We do not practice
'indiscrimate baptism' but will not refuse baptism to those who come
with a genuine desire for Baptism and a willingness to undertake the
In no circumstances do we re-baptise people already baptised, but if
requested we do receive into the fellowship of our church people
already baptised elsewhere. We do not talk about 'converting' members
of other Christian denominations who join us, strictly speaking
conversion is the term used for those who join us from other world
religions or who practiced no religion.
Those seeking baptism for themselves or their children should in the
first instance contact the Rector.
Confirmation is administered by the Bishop
year or so in the Parish to candidates who have decided to take on
themselves the vows of their Baptism and wish to enter full communicant
life of the church. Confirmation is preceeded by a period of
preparation during which the church's Catechism is studied, the basic
teaching of the church is outlined and the obligations of church
membership are explained.
Those interested in Confirmation should make contact with the Rector at
least a year before they might like to make their confirmation and be
Marriage is understood by our church as being
a life long
commitment by persons of opposite gender as an expression of human
love, for the proper ordering of our sexual desires and for the proper
upbringing of children.
Permission to marry in Church of Ireland churches is limited
civil law which, in the Republic of Ireland, is currently being
changed. Basically, at present,couples
seeking marriage in our church need to aquire a licence from a church
or civil registrar or a special licence from the Bishop. In very
limited circumstances people can still be married after the reading of
banns but this will almost certainly disappear when the new legislation
To get a licence at least one party has to be a
'Protestant Episcopalian' which means Church of Ireland or a church in
communion therewith which really means Anglican, Church of Ireland,
Church in Scotland, PECUSA and so on.
The re-marriage of divorced persons is permitted in some circumstances
and after certain conditions have been met but clergy are allowed in
conscience to refuse to take part in such ceremonies. If they do
arrangements may be discussed with the Archdeacon.
Given all the complexities of marriage law and church discipline, and
even more so now that the whole Marriage Law in the Republic of Ireland
is about to be changed, it is
advisable to begin to discuss marriage with the clergy a year or at
the very least nine months before a proposed date for a marriage,
certainly not after the Hotel has been booked for the reception!
Our blessed Lord went about 'doing good and
manner of sickness' and St. James tells us that the elders of the
church should be called to pray over and anoint with oil those who are
sick. Ministry to the sick is a central part of the ministry, both
clerical and lay,
church and so we incorporate prayer for the sick
into most acts of worship and offer laying on of hands and anointing
at special services both in church and in the home. It is important
that people or their friends request these ministries because we see so
often in our Lord's ministry that the acknowledges the faith of friends
and others to be a contributing factor in the healing of the
The clergy should be called on at any time where there is a need for
leadership in this ministry but it is the privilege of all members of
the church to pray for and with the sick taking into account the
patients feelings and wishes. Clergy should be called when
it appears that someone is close to death and as soon as possible
immediately after death as the Book of Common Prayer provides special
prayers for both these situations.
We do not anoint those who are
dying, Holy Communion, or Viaticum is strictly speaking the sacrament
for the dying, Anounting with oil is for the sick who have
hope of recovery.
Legislation is making the whole area of
homes more problematic but there has been in our church a very long
of pastoral visiting, with the clergy visiting the homes of
parishioners on a regular basis. In the current climate it is more
suitable if parishioners request visits from the clergy and arrange
specific times convenient to both for such visits. In the normal course
of events in a parish there will be opportunites and a need for short
unscheduled visits: organising events, discussing involvement in
worship etc. but in other circumstances it is probably best nowadays if
parishioners request clergy to come to their homes.
Unless they have a specific interest and have
special trainng clergy are not social workers, councellors or legal and
financial advisors. Clergy specialise in the formation and development
of an individuals (and the communities) awareness of and relationship
with God. However, within this area all other sorts of problems need to
be aired and to be fitted into context so that people and communities
can be helped to move forward in their relationship with God. Only
through this can they begin to know
the redemption, the buying back of what was lost, which alone can allow
them to discover the freedom to move on in their lives. So do bring up
problems in confidence with the clergy not in the expectation of
finding easy answers or a quick handout, but in the hope of
coming to understand the grace of God which is sufficient for all our
The clergy will also continue to pray about these situations which have
been brought to their attention and all of us know situations where
such prayer and time have brought remarkable healing.
One of the particular duties of the clergy is
people for death and to be able to speak in a personal way at each
parishioners funeral. Indeed one of the unofficial definitions we use
for who is a parishioner is whether they will expect us to bury them!
One of the leftovers from the 'establishment' past of our church is
that we cannot
refuse to bury anyone in our parish area who we are asked to bury and
where there is no other church involved. Everyone in our parish area
has the right to be a member of any church they wish, but if they
belong to no church they are our responsibility for burial, even if
have never come near us in life!
There are fuller explanations of our churches
elsewhere so we just give a quick outline. All communicant members of
our church who are over 18 may register as 'General Vestry Members'.
This gives them the right to attend the 'Easter General Vestry', the
annual general meeting of the parish. At this church officers or
'wardens' and a steering committee, the Select Vestry, are elected for
the year and they, not the clergy, have the responsibility for the
'fabric, furnishing and finances' of the parish. Every three years the
Easter Vestry (which meets within the two weeks prior to or following
Easter) elects people to serve on the Diocesan Synod which meets
annually. This in turn elects a steering committee, called the Diocesan
Council and other Diocesan officials and also elects representatives to
sit on the General Synod, the Church of Irelands governing assembly,
Bishops, clergy and laity have equal voting rights. So while we claim
be part of the universal, catholic church, we are also a national
church with strongly democratic structures and a 'bottom up'
understanding of how the Holy Spirit works within the church in
practical matters combined with a 'top down' concept of how the
authoritatve teaching ministry is inspired.
Virtually all church properties are vested in a Trustee Body, known as
the Representative Church Body. This arrangements avoids individual
members of the church finding themselves in legal or financial
difficulties when serious problems arise with church properties. The
RCB also administers money left to the church by individuals, all
bequests and endowments, as this is the only way we can fully comply
with the law of the land.
Ordained and Lay Minstry
The Church of Ireland has seen its ministry develop in remarkable ways
over the past century and a half. From an exclusively full time, paid
ordained ministry in worship leadership and pastoral care we have moved
to a much more varied pattern.
In terms of the leadership of worship we now have laity reading
lessons, leading prayers and being responsible for the music ministry.
Lay people can also be licenced as Parish Readers, permitted to lead
whole acts of worship and read homilies prepared
by the clergy.
The lay ministry of Diocesan Readers has grown strongly in the church
with may church members eminent in their own professions and employment
being authorised to lead worship and preach. Diocesan Readers have
brought a rich vein of experience and spirituality to our church. They
are not, however, qualified to celebrate the Sacraments.
Over the past thirty years or so the non-stipendary full time ordained
ministry has developed strongly. This provides fully authorised clergy
to the diocese with a strong local attachment and experience. Such
clergy usually assist in parishes or engage in specialised ministries
such as hospital chaplaincy, thoug in some cases they now run parishes
as well as engaging in their full time civilian occupations. This is a
very demanding role but one that is much valued by the laity who see
such clergy as coping with very similar pressures to those experienced
The full time, paid, ordained ministry is still th backbone of the
churches diocesan and parish structures. While the majority of clergy,
men and women, are now ordained at a more mature and
wealth of knowledge and experience of life to the ministry it is also
very encouraging to find so many bright young people, often with
doctoral and other advanced qualifications bringing their enthusiasm
and freshness to the ministry. All these categories of ordinands
frequently give up well paid work or positions with good prospects to
join the ministry.
From a situation in the last half of the 20th century where the Church
of Ireland seemed to be slowly 'shutting up shop' there is now real
evidence of growth, spiritual and even numerical! for which we give
thanks to God. Our church is only as a tool in God's hands for
building of the Kingdom. It seemed for many years as if He had very
little place for us in his purposes, now we pray God we may have the
obedience and willingness to be used in the opportunities that offering
themselves in these exciting and changing