The Rector of Drumholm, Kilbarron and Rossnowlagh, the Rev Brian Russell, has been installed as a Canon of St Eunan’s Cathedral, Raphoe at a service conducted by the Dean of Raphoe, the Very Reverend Arthur Barrett.
Members of Canon Russell’s family and parishioners from south Donegal were in St Eunan’s to see him take the stall of the prebendary of Drumholm, which had become vacant following the retirement of Canon John Deane.
The preacher at the Service was the Rector of Ballymore, Reverend Christopher Pierce, who has known Canon Russell for a number of years, having relieved him of the honour of being the youngest clergyman in the Diocese.
In his sermon, Rev Pierce asked the congregation to pray for Canon Russell and for all the Canons of the Cathedral and all the clergy of the Diocese.
The Preacher said we were living in a time of great fluidity but that there was also the reality that the word of God had not changed. Rev Pierce drew attention to the Epistle Reading from the Letter of Jude (Jude 1-4) in which Christians were urged to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people. Jude warned about those who had secretly slipped in among them and perverted the grace of God. “That sounds exactly like what we read in the newspaper,” Rev Pierce said, “people who profess the Christian faith and yet want us to change the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ”.
“When Jesus was sending the disciples out at Galilee he didn’t give them a general power of attorney and say ‘Go and in my name teach whatever you wish to teach’. He told them to teach everything that he had commanded them. He called them to do exactly what he said, not to freelance.
“The members of the Chapter, the clergy of the Diocese are given that responsibility of contending for the faith, and maintaining the faith,” Rev Pierce said. “To say that something isn’t sinful when the Lord calls it sinful is one of the highest forms of idolatry. Because what a person does when they say such is that they’re saying ‘I know better than God’. That’s a dodgy place to be at best and it certainly isn’t faithful.
“Here at this ancient building, on this ancient Christian site, we are gathered together to be present for the Installation of a new Canon and a member of the Cathedral Chapter. These men are charged with being faithful. We should pray for them that they will be faithful. We should encourage them to contend for the faith.”
Following the Service – in which the Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Ken Good, also participated – the congregation moved to the nearby Cathedral Hall for refreshments which had been prepared by ladies from Canon Russell’s parish group. There, Bishop Good revealed that he had known the new Canon since he was a member of the Youth Group in Willowfield Parish in East Belfast, when the Bishop was a curate there. “He was a talented musician. He played the organ in church. He worked hard (he was a student at university at that time) and we could see the potential that he had as a youth leader at that time. I have followed his progress with interest – all the more so since coming to this Diocese as Bishop – and I am delighted now that he is a Canon of the Cathedral of St Eunan’s.”