Clergy from all corners of Connor Diocese gathered at Belfast Cathedral on Thursday to say farewell to Mrs Rosemary Patterson, Personal Assistant to the Bishop of Connor, who retires at the end of the month.
Rosemary has been full time Secretary / PA to Bishop Alan Abernethy since he became Bishop of Connor 10 years ago, and was part-time secretary to his predecessor, Bishop Alan Harper, for three years before that.
At the gathering in the Cathedral Halls on Thursday, the Rev Canon George Graham, the longest serving clergyman in the diocese, paid tribute to Rosemary on behalf of his colleagues.
“I have never known a person to be held in as high esteem or as deep affection as Rosemary, so it is a great honour for me to speak today,” Canon Graham said.
He reflected on Rosemary’s career with the church which began in 1965, when she worked with Church Mission Society (CMS) Ireland for four years before moving to the diocesan office for Connor and Down and Dromore, then based in May Street, in 1969.
In 1976 she took some time out following the birth of her daughter Helen. Rosemary returned to work in diocesan office in 1989, and since then has worked in Stewardship, Board of Education and with the Bishops.
“You are a real servant of the church,” Canon Graham said. “Your commitment to the diocese has been exemplary. You brought to the job so many skills and great dedication.
“Never once have you been anything less than professional and very warm in your welcome and greeting. Your caring attitude lifts one enormously and the speed you can get space in the Bishop’s diary resonates your care for all the clergy in the diocese.”
Presenting Rosemary with a gift from Connor clergy, Canon Graham said: “Thank you for your encouragement and love to us clergy.”
The Very Rev Sam Wright, Dean of Connor, presented Rosemary with a bouquet of flowers.
Clearly moved, Rosemary thanked all the clergy for their kindness, help and especially for their friendship, and urged them all to continue to look out for their Bishop.
Rosemary is married to Jim, Connor Glebes Secretary and a member of Diocesan Council. Their daughter Helen currently works as a receptionist / administrator with Connor Diocese. Rosemary is mother-in-law to Chris and grandmother to Andrew and Rebekah.