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New Church of Ireland Primate the Rt Rev John McDowell

New Church of Ireland Primate the Rt Rev John McDowell

The Rt Rev John McDowell with his wife Mary and daughter Dorothy at his ordination as Bishop of Clogher in 2011

The Rt Rev John McDowell with his wife Mary and daughter Dorothy at his ordination as Bishop of Clogher in 2011

New Church of Ireland Primate the Rt Rev John McDowell

The new leader of the Church of Ireland has been named as the Rt Revd John McDowell.

The 64-year-old is the 106th man to lead the church since St Patrick.

Mr McDowell, the current Bishop of Clogher, was yesterday elected by the House of Bishops as the new Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland.

He succeeds Archbishop Richard Clarke, who retired on February 2.

"I am overwhelmed by the confidence my fellow bishops have placed in me to fill this ancient office," Mr McDowell said.

"I look forward to working with them in the time to come and to serving the people of the Diocese of Armagh and the Church of Ireland in whatever way I can.

"I think that, like everyone else at present, inside and outside the Church, my greatest concern is that, as governments and societies, we manage our way through the Covid-19 challenges with steadiness and compassion.

"Many people are feeling vulnerable at the minute and will continue to feel that way for some time.

"It is important that we as churches do what we can to ensure that a sense of isolation, which will be a particular feature of the response to this virus, does not become a sense of abandonment.

"Like many organisations, we have our part to play in helping people cope with a very trying set of circumstances.

"In the medium to longer term Ireland, north and south, seems to be at a time between times.

"There is a sense of uncertainty about what shape the future will take. There are anxieties but also many opportunities."

Belfast-born Mr McDowell, a twin, has served as Bishop of Clogher since 2011 after being consecrated as bishop in St Macartin's Cathedral in Enniskillen.

He is married to Mary, who teaches in Enniskillen Royal Grammar School, and they have one daughter, Dorothy, a student at Oxford University.

He pursued a career in business prior to training for ordination. He worked on the commercial side of Shorts' missile systems division and then as assistant director of the CBI. His late father had also worked in Shorts, as well as H&W. He was previously Rector of St Mark's, Dundela, in east Belfast (2002-2011), Rector of Ballyrashane (1999-2002), and Curate of Antrim (1996-1999).

He also served as an Honorary Secretary of the General Synod (2008-2011) and is currently Chairman of the Church of Ireland's Commission for Christian Unity and Dialogue.

Mr McDowell was ordained in 1996 and initially served as Curate of Antrim, in the Diocese of Connor.

He was subsequently Rector of Ballyrashane, in the same diocese.

Belfast Telegraph