Five Church of Ireland ministers ordained in one service
The Church of Ireland has celebrated a landmark day with five new priests ordained to serve in the Derry and Raphoe Diocese.
Bishop Ken Good presided over the ordinations of Rev Liz Fitzgerald, Rev Nigel Cairns, Rev Rhys Jones, Rev Jonathan McFarland and Rev Robert Wray in front of 500 of their relatives and friends.
Bishop Good described it as an historic day for Derry and Raphoe.
He said: "We had two deacons ordained last week and now five priests, which is an unusual thing to have happen at the one time, but we are delighted.
"No one in the Church can recall an occasion when so many priests were ordained for the diocese in a single service, but I am very thankful for this.
"All of those who were ordained are late vocations. They are experienced people who felt the call to serve in this way and they have responded.
"They are very excited and they are mature and wise. They know it won't always be easy but there is a sense of joy and anticipation in their ordination.
"I think we can do with a blending of younger and more mature people, because they each have something special to offer. On this occasion they all happen to be more mature."
Within the Church of England there has been a noted decline in the number of people who describe themselves as Anglican - from 13.5 million to 8m.
This has also included a drop in the number of men and women presenting for ordination in the Church of England.
Bishop Good added: "While I don't think one year sets a trend, there certainly won't be this number of ordinations next year.
"Nevertheless, it is very encouraging now and it is encouraging for the parishes these people will be going to.
"They will have someone arriving who will give them ministry, leadership and encouragement. Even with this unprecedented number we have somewhere for them to go and work for them to do and still room left for more."
The Dean of Raphoe, the Very Rev Arthur Barrett, addressed the five candidates for ordination during the ceremony.
He said: "During our times together, it seemed to me, and I don't think I'm breaking any confidences when I say that one way or another, all five, I think, share a similar kind of reticence: 'Why me, Lord?'
"But I'm so thrilled, despite perhaps your personal reticence; you have all confidently already confessed that you believe in your heart that God has called you to the office and work of a priest in His church."
The ordination ceremony took place at Glendermott Parish Church, which serves the communities of Drumahoe and Tullyally - two of the worst affected areas in the recent floods in the north west.
Bishop Good hoped the gesture would be a recognition of their desire to bless and care for families who had suffered because of the flooding and to show them compassion.