The Rev Danielle McCullagh, Vicar of Lisburn Cathedral, has been appointed Chaplain and Dean of Residences at The Hub, the Church of Ireland / Methodist Chaplaincy at Queen’s University and Stranmillis College.
She succeeds the Ven Barry Forde, Archdeacon of Belfast, who is now Priest-in-Charge of the Inner South Belfast Mission Area.
In her new role Danielle, 32, will serve in covenant alongside the Ulster University Chaplain, who is currently appointed by the Methodist Church.
As Chaplain, she will lead the staff team at The Hub, including centre management, café and ancillary staff, and serve as Dean of Residents in the Student Centre, which during term time is home to some 50 residential students and ministry interns.
Danielle grew up in Glengormley. She was ordained deacon in 2016 and served her deacon internship in St Brigid’s, Mallusk. After her ordination as a priest in August 2017, she was curate-assistant in Lisburn Cathedral until her institution as Vicar of the Cathedral in June 2021.
Danielle is the current Chair of Engage Connor Youth. She has a BA (Hons) Degree in Childhood Studies and Professional Practice Studies from Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, and before training for ordination she worked in Carnmoney Primary School as a one-to-one Classroom Assistant with children with special needs.
Danielle said she was very excited about her new role. “I had the opportunity to get to know a few of the students when I spoke at a recent Hub weekend,” she said.
It was, in part, her own experiences at university that drew her to the role of Chaplain.
“I found my undergraduate years some of the hardest for me to be a Christian, and I realised how critical and how formative this time is for young people,” she said.
“In Lisburn, I have been involved in youth ministry and 20s and 30s ministry. From a parish perspective, we invest in them and then send them on to university. As Chaplain, we can continue to invest in them in an intentional way.”
Danielle will be living next door to the students. “It is incarnational living – you have to live among them even more than in a parish setting,” she said. “One of my favourite aspects of ministry is working one-to-one.”
She will also serve as Chaplain to the Church of the Resurrection within The Hub. “The Chaplaincy role is a dual one,” she said. “I will be chaplain to a group of students, but also to an all-age worshipping community at the Church of the Resurrection. It is like a little parish, and being at Lisburn Cathedral has prepared me for leading and preaching at services.”
Danielle said she is looking forward to the opportunity to build on all that Archdeacon Forde has achieved. “He has done an incredible job, and it is a privilege to go into such a healthy ministry,” she said.
While she is looking forward to her move, Danielle said she would be ‘gutted’ telling the community at Lisburn Cathedral. “They really have been a family to me. I have been here to serve, but I have felt so loved and supported.”
Danielle will be the first female Chaplain since the role of Chaplain / Dean of Residences in the then Queen’s College, Belfast, first came into being in 1849. The chaplaincy itself opened in 1954.