The Donegal Group of Parishes’ new outreach centre, ‘The Mustard Seed’, has been officially opened by the Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Rt Rev Ken Good.
There was glorious sunshine for Saturday morning’s ribbon-cutting ceremony at the premises on New Row, just yards away from Donegal Parish Church and Donegal Castle. Parishioners were doubly blessed as Bishop Good confirmed the awarding of a €14,100 grant for the project from the Church of Ireland’s Priority Fund.
The Archdeacon of Raphoe, Ven David Huss, told those present that The Mustard Seed was the brainchild of a number of parishioners who wanted to “take the church out of the church building and into the community”. Archdeacon Huss, who is the Rector of Donegal, Killymard, Lough Eske and Laghey, said they decided during last year’s Year of Opportunity in the Diocese to open a new outreach centre and create “the kind of place where anyone could come and find love and find care and find friendship”.
The premises include a tea-room, a book stall and a prayer space for the whole community, and the centre will open from 10am-2pm each Thursday and Friday. “When you come to The Mustard Seed tea-room it is a bit different,” Archdeacon Huss said. “There are no prices. You just pay what you want to give – as little or as much as you can afford. And there are no strings attached: anybody and everybody is welcome.”
The Archdeacon thanked the informal committee who had overseen the new centre’s development, the volunteers who had baked scones and cakes for the tea-room or served teas in it, those who had donated equipment or books, and those who had provided financial support.
Archdeacon Huss explained that the centre’s name, The Mustard Seed, came from Matthew 13, in which Jesus compared the kingdom of heaven to a mustard seed. “’Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds in the air may come and perch in its branches. So, as from a small beginning, something grows and becomes a place of shelter and belonging, and that’s what we want for this place. In many ways it’s only a very small thing but in other ways it has big potential.”
Bishop Good welcomed parishioners, friends and clergy from other parishes. He had visited the outreach centre in its infancy and said he was delighted to see the progress that had been made in the interim. “What I see here is faith as a mustard seed in the beginning that has grown, and who knows how big it’s going to become. This had very small beginnings but what the Lord can use this for none of us knows – what it will do with people’s lives none of us knows.” The Bishop commended Archdeacon
Bishop Good told his audience that the Priorities Fund had decided to award The Mustard Seed a grant of €14,100 “because it believes – and I believe – that it [the outreach centre] has a future and a viability. So that’s just one sign of faith, as a mustard seed, growing and growing. I am thankful to God for what he’s going to do here and what he has already done.”
Dignitaries at the weekend event included local Roman Catholic priests Fr William Peoples from Donegal Town and Fr Francis McLoone from Killymard, and the Minister of the local Presbyterian Congregation, Rev Stephen Richmond. Independent County Councillor Tom Conaghan was also in attendance, although the Mayor of Donegal Town, Patricia Callaghan, sent her apologies for not being able to attend because she was out of the country.