The Retired Clergy Association (Northern Ireland) ended this year’s series of meetings with a visit to St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast, on Thursday November 16.
The morning began with a service of Holy Communion in the Chapel of Unity, celebrated by the Dean of Belfast, the Very Rev Stephen Forde, assisted by Canon Raymond Fox.
Following light refreshments, Dean Forde gave an illustrated talk to members on the history and development of the Cathedral, with particular reference to the different stages of its construction, especially in relation to the growth of Belfast after it was granted city status by Queen Victoria in 1888.
The Dean went on to describe the present-day life and work of the Cathedral under the title, ‘What we are about and what we do,’ outlining many areas in which the Cathedral and its team play a part, including its work as a parish; its emphasis on liturgy, music and worship; its unusual aspect in serving two separate dioceses (Connor and Down and Dromore), and so having not one but two Bishops’ Seats; its civic and national responsibilities; community and social outreach; and peace building.
Dean Forde also referred to both the annual Christmas Sit-out which was only a few weeks away and the Cathedral’s plans and priorities over the next number of years, with particular reference to the events being planned in June 2024 to mark the 120th anniversary of the consecration of the Nave.
The RCA chairman, Canon Jim Campbell, thanked the Dean for a ‘detailed, informative, educational and fascinating talk,’ and the honorary treasurer, the Ven John Scott, presented the Dean with a token of members’ appreciation.
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
Following the Dean’s talk, members held a brief annual general meeting.
Canon Campbell explained why this was the second annual general meeting of the year; Covid had knocked the association’s schedules out of place and members had decided to revert to the traditional format of holding the annual general meeting in November.
The chairman, honorary secretary and honorary treasurer gave brief reports and members agreed to leave the increasingly difficult task of appointing new office-bearers in the hands of the present committee.
Report by the Rev Clifford Skillen