The Consecration of the Revd Canon Kenneth Kearon
as the new Bishop of Limerick and Killaloe
Christ Church Cathedral, Saturday 24 January, 2015
The Service of Consecration of Kenneth Kearon as the new Bishop of Limerick and Killaloe took place at Christ Church Cathedral on Saturday 24th January, the Eve of the Conversion of St Paul.
The preacher at the service, The Most Revd Dr Barry Morgan, Archbishop of Wales , said: ‘Life as a bishop is like a ride on a zip wire … Just as zip wire riders need someone to launch them at the start and haul them in at the end, so too a bishop sets people off on their sometimes daunting journeys of faith and holds them safe as they travel.’ More than that, though, he added, ‘a bishop is someone who climbs onboard the ride first – to lead by example’.
As well as Archbishop Morgan and a number of serving and retired bishops of the Church of Ireland – including The Rt Revd Sam Poyntz, the new bishop’s father–in–law – Bishop Kearon’s consecration brought together a large number of attendees from across the Church of Ireland, the wider Anglican Communion and, notably, the Methodist Church in Ireland also. The President of the Methodist Church in Ireland, the Revd Peter Murray, along with the Revd Donald Ker, former President and General Secretary of the Methodist Church in Ireland, and former President and Co–Chair of the Covenant Council, the Revd Winston Graham, joined with other bishops in the laying on of hands on the new bishop – the first time that participation by Methodist leaders has taken place (see below). Since the decision of both the General Synod and the Methodist Conference allowing for the inter–changeability of ministry, Methodist Presidents are now regarded as Episcopal Ministers and as such can participate in a consecration service.
Pictured outside the cathedral, L–R: Dean Dermot Dunne, Archbishop Michael Jackson, Bishop Kenneth Kearon, Bishop Pat Storey and Bishop Patrick Rooke.
The service was led by the Archbishop of Dublin, The Most Revd Dr Michael Jackson, and the Bishop of Meath and Kildare, The Most Revd Pat Storey, and the Bishop of Tuam & Killala, The Rt Revd Patrick Rooke, were co–consecrators. The Choir of Christ Church Cathedral sang Mozart’s Coronation Mass during the Eucharist.
Bishop Kearon was also surrounded by many family and friends at the service, including his wife, Jennifer, and two of his three daughters – Alison and Rachel. His daughter Gillian is living in New Zealand and was unable to attend. Bishop Kearon’s mother, Mrs Ethel Kearon, was joined by his sister, Mrs Lynda Goldsmith.
Born in Dublin in 1953, Bishop Kearon attended Mountjoy School and Trinity College, Dublin, where he studied Philosophy. Following further study at Cambridge and in Dublin, he was ordained a priest in 1982 and served as curate in All Saints Raheny and St John’s Coolock before his appointment as Dean of Residence at Trinity College, Dublin. In 1991 he became Rector of Tullow before becoming Director of the Irish School of Ecumenics in 1999 and Secretary General of the Anglican Communion in 2005, the role which he performed until late last year.
Canon Kearon is no stranger to Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, having been a member of the Chapter since 1995 and served as its Chancellor from 2002. In September 2014, he was elected Bishop of Limerick and Killaloe following a meeting of the Episcopal Electoral College which took place at Christ Church Cathedral, and he succeeds The Rt Revd Trevor Williams who retired as Bishop of Limerick and Killaloe in July last year. Enthronement services in the cathedrals in his new dioceses will take place at later dates.
Extracts from the Sermon given at the Consecration by The Most Revd Dr Barry Morgan, Archbishop of Wales:
Dr Barry Morgan compared the role of a church leader with a ride on a particularly scary new tourist attraction in North Wales – Zip World Velocity. ‘Be prepared for an exhilarating but often uncomfortable ride’, Archbishop Morgan told the new Bishop of Limerick and Killaloe, Kenneth Kearon.
The Archbishop said, ‘The thing about the zip wire is that to start you off someone has to help you on your way by giving you a gentle (or not so gentle push) because it looks quite terrifying and then as you end the journey, somebody hauls you in with something resembling a shepherd’s crook, to make sure that you land safely on the other side, assuming of course you haven’t had a heart attack in between. The more I think about it, those two actions of launching and hauling in sum up the work of a bishop. We try to launch people on their journeys of faith and persuade congregations and parishes to do things they might not want to do and we try to hold them safe as they journey, because that is what pastoral care is all about.’
He added, ‘Bishops, as well as being pastors, need to be like the person at the top of the zip wire in North Wales – the people who give the church a push or a prod. Indeed, they need to get on the zip wire first themselves to lead by example…
‘In partnership with others, we have to take responsibility for strategies for church growth, for outreach to the communities which we serve, and for mission. And that is not always easy or comfortable… Pastoral care sometimes has to be tough and robust. Hard decisions may need to be taken which will not please everyone but that too is part of exercising pastoral care. It is about looking after the interests of the church as a whole, not just a particular group within it.’
Dr Morgan said the challenges facing the Diocese were ones confronting us all – how to convey the message of the gospel ecumenically and to a world which is becoming increasingly secular and to do that sensitively in a multi–cultural society remembering that we are part of the one holy, catholic and apostolic church.
He paid tribute to Bishop Kenneth’s experience in international relations, ‘Your new bishop brings to you his vast experience from the Irish School of Ecumenics and as Secretary–General of the Anglican Communion and will help you to maintain your vision and links.’
The Archbishop added that bishops had another important responsibility – speaking up for people on the edges of society, those who are often despised. He said, ‘If bishops are to be true shepherds they have to bear witness to that God revealed by Jesus. That means having a particular duty of speaking up for those who are marginalised and ostracised in our country. And world and heaven only knows there are plenty of people – refugees, the poor, and those who are enslaved in one way or another in our broken world.’
Bishops were shepherds, but not ‘lone rangers’, he said: ‘As the Ordinal makes clear, we exercise our ministry, not as lone rangers but in partnership with our fellow bishops, with our fellow priests and indeed with all God’s people. Sheep and shepherds work together.’ Bishops, he concluded, ‘are called to ensure that they and the church which they lead are truly friends of God by reflecting the glory of that God made manifest in the face of Jesus Christ. That’s an enormous privilege and, like the zip wire, a totally exhilarating ride.’