Parishioners from the churches of St Paul and St Barnabas in Belfast marked the end of an era on Friday September 7 with a party for their retiring rector, the Rev Canon Kathleen Brown.
The evening took place in Currie Primary School, and the many guests included the Bishop of Connor, the Rt Rev Alan Abernethy, and Bishop Samuel Poyntz, who ordained Kathleen when she became one of the first women priests in the Church of Ireland in 1990.
Kathleen has been rector of St Paul and St Barnabas for the last 15 years, and the secretary of the Select Vestry, Mr John Nelson, said parishioners would be sorry to see her leave.
“People are naturally sad but we understand that when you get to a certain stage retirement is an option,” he said.
“Fifteen years is a good time, and we have had a lot of things happen, including the demolition of St Barnabas Church. That was a difficult experience, but the benefit was it freed up money for the renovation of St Paul’s.”
He added: “The party was about Kathleen leaving but it was also a celebration of what has been achieved over the last few years.”
Canon Brown, who was awarded an MBE for services to the community in June this year, took her last service as rector of St Paul and St Barnabas on Sunday September 9.
“I am happy about going and I know it is the right time, but leaving the people of this parish will be hard,” she said.
Kathleen will visit Buckingham Palace on October 18 to collect her MBE.
Bishop Abernethy said the party had been a joyful event as parishioners said goodbye to a rector who was evidently ‘much-loved.’
Photographs by Catherine Taggart