Dean John Mann: I am leaving St Anne's for a new life in England
The Dean of Belfast, the Very Rev John Mann, has revealed he is to leave St Anne's Cathedral in April to take up a post in England.
Dean Mann revealed during the 11am service yesterday that he will leave at Easter to take up the post of team rector of the Parish of Swanage with Studland in the Diocese of Salisbury.
Making the announcement, Dean Mann - who was appointed in June 2011 - spoke of how difficult it had been to make the decision to move back to England having spent the majority of his adult life in Northern Ireland.
However, he said he felt the time was right to make the move.
"My wife Helen and I have been privileged to serve in four parishes in the Church of Ireland, as well as St Anne's Cathedral, and have seen great change in the community," he said.
"Our children were both born here and had much of their education in Belfast.
"We will be leaving with fond memories and with the intent of being back as often as is practical."
Dean Mann said the decision to move across the Irish Sea had been weighing on him and his wife for some time, and had been taken for several reasons.
But the main reason, he said, was because St Anne's is passing from one phase of transition, into which he was appointed, to another, as the Cathedral Quarter approaches very significant change.
"St Anne's will rise to the opportunities and challenges that will face a new Dean and the Cathedral Board over the next five years," Dean Mann said.
"It is from this perspective a good time to go.
"We will also be moving closer to our family and I look forward not only to that, but to returning for a few years to my primary calling as a parish clergyman.
"It is a time to look forward for us all."
The Bishop of Conor, the Rt Rev Alan Abernethy, is a member of the Belfast Cathedral Board and paid tribute to the contribution made by Dean Mann during his time as Dean of Belfast.
"I will be forever grateful for John's ministry in St Anne's, for his prayerful presence," the bishop said.
"His clear thinking and compassionate care for many will leave the cathedral in very good heart.
"He and Helen can be assured of the love and prayers of everyone at St Anne's and the clergy and people of Connor Diocese."
In October, St Anne's appointed the Very Rev Edward O'Donnell, Parish Priest of St Brigid's, Belfast, as an Ecumenical Canon - the first time in the cathedral's history that a Roman Catholic priest was elected to serve on the Cathedral Chapter.