The Very Rev Raymond Stewart has been installed as the new Dean of Derry at a service in St Columb’s Cathedral in Londonderry. Dean Stewart has also been instituted as Rector of Templemore, succeeding Rev Dr William Morton.
More than 400 people attended Tuesday evening’s service, which was led by the Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Rt Rev Ken Good. The congregation included the Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Alderman Hilary McClintock; the Lord-Lieutenant for the County Borough of Londonderry, Dr Angela Garvey; the Vice-Lord Lieutenant, Mrs Stella Burnside; and representatives of the Honourable the Irish Society (whose predecessors built St Columb’s Cathedral.
The preacher was the Rector of Drumachose, Rev Canon Samuel McVeigh – a long-time friend of Dean Stewart’s and a senior Canon in the cathedral. He told the congregation that the pair of them had first met in the mid-seventies when he began his studies for ordination in Trinity College, Dublin.
Canon McVeigh said the Dean had first served at All Saints Clooney under the Venerable George Charles Willoughby, “who ran the parish at Clooney like a Regimental Sergeant Major”. In college and in parish life, the new Dean had been seen as “a perfectionist”; his calling to the ministry in the church of the living God and his strong and unwavering faith in Jesus Christ were “solid”.
“After that gruelling training under Archdeacon Willoughby,” the Preacher said, “Raymond moved to rural parishes: first Dunfanaghey, then Castledawson and finally the Tamlaghts – Upper and Lower. Your new Dean comes to you with a wealth of experience of parish life in town and country, and no doubt will put this vast experience to good effect in this particular church of St Columb”.
Addressing parishioners and well-wishers later, at St Augustine’s Parish Hall, the new Dean thanked the parochial and diocesan nominators who had placed their trust in him, and Bishop Good for appointing him as Dean. He also thanked his wife, Patricia and their daughter Dione.
Dean Stewart said the first time he ever preached in the Cathedral was on Palm Sunday, the 3rd of April 1977. “When I stand in the pulpit as Rector and Dean on Sunday next, the second of April, it’ll be one day short of 40 years since I first preached in the Cathedral.”
The new Dean paid tribute to his predecessor and friend, the Very Rev Dr William Morton. “I know that he was greatly respected in the parish, in the city and the community for all the hard work that he did. But I am me. I am not Dean William Morton. His are big shoes to fill but I can only fill the shoes that I am wearing. Nevertheless, I will continue to honour the traditions that he has laid, but I ask you new parishioners to accept me the way I am, to accept whatever gifts I may bring and pardon any failings I may have.”