The Rector of Convoy, Monellan and Donaghmore, Rev Dr Bill Long, has been installed as a member of the Cathedral Chapter of St Eunan’s at a service in Raphoe Cathedral. The service was led by the Dean of Raphoe, Very Rev Arthur Barrett, and presided over by the Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Rt Rev Ken Good. The Archdeacon of Raphoe, Ven David Huss, the Diocesan Registrar, Canon David Crooks, and the Rural Dean, Canon Brian Russell, also took part, along with Ms Marie Witherow who read the Epistle Reading.
A significant number from Canon Long’s parishes – which adjoin Raphoe, Raymochy and Clonleigh – travelled the short distance to see his installation. During the service, the Diocesan Registrar, Canon David Crooks, read the Bishop’s Mandate and Rev Dr Long was invited to make the Chapter Declaration, in which he promised serve the Chapter faithfully, observe the statutes and customs of St Eunan’s Cathedral, and use his endeavours diligently for the good of God’s Church. The new Canon was then welcomed by other members of the Cathedral Chapter, Canon Brian Russell and Canon Crooks (Canon Harry Gilmore was on holiday and sent his apologies).
Canon Long’s wife, Geraldine, was in the Cathedral to see her husband’s installation into the stall previously occupied by Canon Stuart Wright, the former Rector of Conwal Union with Gartan.
Dean Barrett thanked Canon Crooks for giving what the Dean described as an “enlightening and informative” sermon. Canon Crooks said he regarded it as a very great privilege to have been asked to preach on this occasion.
He began by explaining to the congregation how the role of a canon had evolved from the Middle Ages up to the present day, and outlining the differing roles of modern-day canons. He said four Prebendary titles in St Eunan’s Cathedral had been retained purely as titles – Clondehorkey, Drumholm, Inver and Killymard.
Canon Crooks said that Bishop Good had stated clearly on more than one occasion that good service in the Diocese rather than longevity would be his criterion for making appointments. That, the Preacher suggested, was absolutely right. He said Rev Long, who had been in the Diocese for four years, had received his canonry for the Prebendary of Killymard relatively quickly. “However,” Canon Crooks said, “his service has been performed not just in the Raphoe ~Diocese but in the wider Church of Ireland, and collectively it all adds up to the most distinguished service to God and his Church, first and foremost as a faithful priest and then as a minister to the people whom he served.”
Canon Crooks went on to describe Dr Long’s “distinguished academic career”. The new Canon had been educated at the London Institute of Civil Engineering; had gained a Diploma in Theology from Trinity College, Dublin; two Masters Degrees from Durham University and a Doctorate in Philosophy from the Queen’s University Belfast.
“In his ministry, Dr Long has moved around quite a bit. He was Curate in St John’s, Orangefield, Belfast in the Diocese of Down; Curate of St Mark’s, Portadown in the Diocese of Armagh; Rector of Dromara and Garvaghy in the Diocese of Dromore; Rector of Aghalurcher and Cooneen in the Diocese of Clogher; Rector of Annalong in the Diocese of Dromore; Rector of Saint Simon and Saint Philip, Belfast in the Diocese of Connor; and Rector of Carnteel and Aughnacloy in the Diocese of Armagh; before becoming Rector of Convoy, Donaghmore and Monellan to the Diocese of Raphoe in 2013. So he has plenty of experience, both rural and urban – he’s certainly kept the furniture removal van business busy.
“In all these parishes, Bill has served his people in sickness and health, with all their joys and all their sorrows, doing the work of a parish priest with great conscientiousness in that quiet, laid back and gentle manner that so much the character of Bill Long. In all this he has been accompanied throughout by his charming wife, Geraldine, and their two grown-up children, Mandy and Una. Being as I am a near neighbour, I know that you are highly respected and much loved in Convoy, Monellan and Donaghmore.”
Following the service, the congregation walked the 100 yards or so to the Cathedral Hall for refreshments prepared by volunteers from Canon Long’s parishes and from Raphoe Parish. Canon Long and Mrs Long cut a magnificent cake which had been baked specially for the occasion.
Dean Barrett described it as a very historic occasion not just for the local parishes but for the whole Diocese. He said they were delighted to welcome Canon Long to the Cathedral Chapter.
Canon Long thanked the Bishop, the Dean and all the clergy for making the evening possible. “It’s a memorable evening for Geraldine and myself,” he said, “and I should like to thank them for that. And a word of thanks to Canon Crooks for his interesting and very gracious sermon”. As he looked around at parishioners from Monellan, Donaghmore and Convoy, Canon Long said no one could have wished for a better group of people. They were most supportive, they had a keen sense of humour and they were very kindly.
“I guess we’ve made our identity through our faith in God and helping one another,” Canon Long said. “This is a happy Diocese, due in no small measure to our Bishop and the clergy in the area, and I should to thank them. It’s a happy place to work and it’s my privilege to play a small part in it”.
Bishop Good said the whole evening had been a happy occasion. They were significant not just for the person who was being installed and their family, but also for the parishes to which they belonged. “I don’t often remember the opening line of a speechthat Rectors make on the night of their Institution. But I remember well the opening line of the speech this man made on the night of his institution. The opening line was something like this at the Service of Institution in Convoy four years ago. He stood up to his full height, he looked around, said nothing for a while, then he said: ‘I know what you’re all thinking. What’s a handsome, good-looking young man like me doing in here?’” When the laughter in the hall had subsided, the Bishop said he was delighted that Canon Long had accepted the appointment and trusted that it would be a blessing to him and his wife, and that it would give them encouragement.