By Dan Walsh
The new Rector of Bunclody Union of Parishes, Rev’d Trevor Sargent will preside at his first Service in Bunclody, tomorrow, Sunday, and due to Covid-19 restrictions and government guidelines it will be available online on his YouTube channel reverendtrevorsargent from midnight tonight.
Rev’d Sargent was instituted as Rector on Friday night and Bunclody Union of Parishes includes St. Mary’s Church, Bunclody, St Paul’s Church, Kildavin, St Fiac’s Church, Clonegal and St Brigid’s Church, Kilrush. He succeeds Canon Michael Stevenson who retired in February 2020.
The online institution service – a first for the Diocese – was attended by over 200 invited parishioners, family members and well-wishers.
Speaking at the Service Michael Burrows, Bishop of Cashel, Ferns & Ossory, said he was delighted to welcome Mr Sargent to Bunclody and he hoped that Trevor and his wife, Áine, would have many happy years there.
He also thanked Valerie Power and the Rev. Margaret Sykes and all those who held the fort during the one-year vacancy.
“With so many people attending from so many different places,” he said, “we are, in Biblical terms, surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.”
The preacher was the Very Rev’d Maria Jansson, Dean of Waterford who spoke of how Trevor had brought imagination, initiative and hard work to his curacy in Waterford Union and referred to how the world and the church will have changed considerably following this pandemic.
“As people of faith our task is to enable a conversation develop, that can relate God to the mess of life, to the potential for good in mankind,” she said, stating also that the seeds of a new church are taking root.
“As individuals and as communities we have to learn to witness in a way that makes sense to people who long for a radical and authentic faith,” she said.
Referring to the new Rector and his wife Áine Neville’s interest in organic growing she said that it was no accident that they were coming to Bunclody in the spring.
“You have a few months before the end of this pandemic,” she told Trevor in relation to his ministry, “to prepare the soil, to begin the conversations, so that you will know what needs to be weeded, protected, nourished and planted.”
Many prayers during the service were read in Irish, reflecting the new rector’s love and commitment to the language and his involvement with Cumann Gaelach na hEaglaise (the Irish Guild of the Church) which promotes the use of the Irish language.
Robert Deacon welcomed Trevor and Áine to Bunclody on behalf of parishioners and Fr Laurence O’Connor, parish priest of Bunclody, also had words of greeting and encouragement. He said he was honoured to be asked to welcome the new rector, reassured him of his own deep ecumenical spirit and of his belief that the world must be enriched by difference, not alienated by it and prayed that Trevor will be a great light to the people of his pastoral areas.
After thanking many for their help and support Trevor spoke of how Bunclody is a beautiful part of the world and how both he and Áine feel blessed to be moving to Bunclody Rectory.
“The warmth and friendliness of the people here makes us feel very welcome,” he said.
“Naturally Áine and myself were sad to leave the many friends we had made in their parishes,” he said before the service, “but we are looking forward to this new chapter. Luke 2:27 reads: Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple.’ Likewise, becoming rector of Bunclody Union of Parishes has been a Spirit-led journey. I feel a strong calling to serve this community. I pray that in striving to do God’s will, that the deep peace of knowing Jesus will help more and more people to overcome the personal, local and planetary challenges we face in this pandemic and beyond it.”