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All-Ireland News

Cork, Cloyne & Ross Mothers' Union
Supporting Staff Wellbeing at Cork University Hospital

The knitting needles have been very active amongst members as we supported a very special project. In October 2023 we were approached by Canon Daniel Nuzum, the Church of Ireland Chaplain at CUH (Cork University Hospital) to ask if members could make some red hearts for a staff wellbeing event they were planning. When asked how many would be needed, the answer was about 500!! Of course, we said yes – why not! By mid-January the 500 hearts were completed, with the amazing support of members, friends and a local stitchers’ group who had heard about the initiative. The hearts were duly delivered and our Diocesan President, Hilary Dring.

Hilary was delighted to be invited to come to one of the short events at the hospital. This beautiful staff wellbeing ceremony to honour staff hands and hearts happened several times during the day. On arrival each person was given one of the red hearts which were held while listening to John O’Donohue’s Blessing of your Work, two minutes silence, and beautiful and moving piece played on the cello. The hearts are the work of many members and friends over the past few months. To all who made them, you have contributed to a ceremony to honour the hands and hearts of staff at Cork's largest hospital.

Thank you. It is a wonderful way of offering gifts of love in our community.
Getaway Weekend 2023

Ann Howard, Diocesan President of Kilmore, Elphin & Ardagh reflects on the Mothers’ Union Getaway Weekend October ’23.  

As Diocesan President, I’m so proud of how the members of KEA Mothers’ Union welcomed and helped to make this event a very memorable All-Ireland event. We were truly blessed to have so many gifted speakers and entertainers. It was headed up by Mrs Liz Greer and Mrs Wendy Halligan, assisted by Mrs June Butler, All Ireland President, and Mrs Hazel Spears, Action and Outreach All Ireland, Mrs Diane Stewart Young families represenatative (who also made book marks for us all) and our own KEA trustee body. Behind these great events there are a team of people preparing for weeks and months to ensure its’ success, and this event was no exception.

Mrs Melanie Douglas was a very powerful and moving lead speaker. She filled our hearts with love, joy and advice on How to live an abundant life’. We were so blessed to have her join us for the weekend. It was also lovely to meet and get to know Ven Dr Stephen McBride, our All-Ireland Chaplain, and his wife Helen. Rev’d Richard Waller, our KEA chaplain, was our spiritual lead and was ever present for us all. My own talented sister-in-law Pauline Howard helped us relax and even laugh more by teaching us to dance and Leila Beattie with her chair exercises had us in stitches before we left for home. Our photos show our brilliant committee with guest speaker Melanie Douglas and some of the attendees from our diocese. The Hotel Kilmore, Cavan, were fantastic hosts, providing a welcoming and comfortable setting. We wish to express our deepest sympathy to the family of hotel owner, Mr Ross Mealiff, on his untimely passing.

2 Corinthians 9:8  And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work”.

Killylea Mothers’ Union

On 7th May 2023, at the Morning Service in St.Mark’s Church Killylea, Roy Huston accompanied by his sister Audrey, presented the members of the Mothers’ Union with Mothers’ Union Brooches and copies of an MU Book of Prayers.

These gifts were from the estate of Roy and Audrey’s mother Annie who died last year at the age of 100. The members were very appreciative of this kind gesture from the family, especially as they all have many happy memories of Annie’s many years of membership of Killylea Mothers’ Union.   

Annie was a quiet lady with a great sense of humour and thoroughly enjoyed MU meetings which she seldom missed. She was a very enthusiastic member of the Church and Mothers’ union and always encouraged others to join. One of Annie’s highlights was when she was chosen to cut the cake when Killylea MU celebrated their centenary – 100 years of Mothers’ Union in Killylea.

In a wonderful gesture Roy said that he would see to it that any new member would receive a brooch and book. The members were delighted as this is a very fitting tribute to Annie, a long-standing and much missed member.

Ploughing Championships 2023

This year's Ploughing Championships took place in Ratheniska, Co. Laois, from 19th to 21st September and Mothers' Union was to the forefront in providing the Baby Changing and feeding facilities at this three day event. The facilities provided by Mothers' Union are greatly appreciated by the parents/guardians of babies and toddlers as it gives them a clean, safe environment in which to tend to their child's needs. Many say that they would not be able to come to the ploughing as a family only for this facility being available.Thank you to all those who volunteered to help over the three days.

Below are some quotes from those who used the facility this year:
  • "Absolute life saver! Thanks so much ladies"
  • "Amazing facility, absolute life saver for us in this bad weather. Thanks a million"
  • "This is the greatest stand here today. The facilities provided were far above expectations. Thanks ladies"
  • "Wonderful facility, made things so easy. Very clean and staff lovely"
  • "Absolutely fantastic service. Knowing you can change/feed your baby somewhere out of the wind and rain really took the stress out of coming with my 18 month old"
  • "Having a baby changing/feeding area at this spot was amazing. Thank you very much. God Bless. Hope you'll be here next year"
  • "Brilliant initiative. So important & thoughtful"
  • "Thank you for a great service! A vital service, allowing families with young children/babies to enjoy this event"
  • "Thank you so much for such a beautiful calm space full of such friendly people. So kind"

Clogher Diocese spreads the word about Mothers' Union

Mary Sumner’s prayer starts with opening words “All this day, O Lord, let me touch as many lives as possible for thee;”

This year MU in the Diocese was granted a stand at the Fermanagh County Show from the 11-12th August. We were prompted by this prayer to reach out to our community and to enable us do this we asked for volunteers from Mothers’ Union members to assist in covering the stand at the show and undertake guiding responsibilities as the new Show site at Castle Irvine Estate required.

We think that in the spirit of Mary Sumner our 25 volunteers helped to sow seeds for Mothers’ Union amongst the farming families of our Diocese as they gathered to enjoy the fun, and friendship of the Show.

We shared our experiences of MU in the Diocese and in our Branches and encouraged those to whom we chatted, especially mothers of young families, to think about joining our membership.

We were given some freebies from ASDA and TESCO for children and supplemented the goodie packs ( >200 )from our own funds,adding leaflets about Mothers’ Union as well. By including the information leaflet and contact email addresses in these packs we hoped that many more people from the community would learn of our work at home and worldwide.

During the 2 days of the Show we collected comments from MU members and members of the public and were encouraged by this one in particular “ Absolutely great to see your wonderful organisation at show. God Bless”

Click on the image to view the Service Sheet
All Ireland Festival Service and
Commissioning of Trustees 2023

 The All-Ireland Festival and the Commissioning of Trustee took place in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh on Sunday 11th June. A large congregation attended the service and it was a very special occasion for all those who were commissioned during the service and we wish them every blessing in their new role in Mothers’ Union ~ Revd. Canon Jennifer McWhirter, Kay Clarke, Sophia Dillon, Moira Thom, Hazel Speares, Irene Boyd, Cathy Doig, Lesley Bayley and Wendy Halligan. The newly appointed All-Ireland Chaplain, the Venerable Dr. Stephen McBride was also introduced to the congregation.

Our grateful thanks to Debbie Davidson, Diocesan President of Armagh, for arranging refreshments after the service in the Armagh City Hotel. It was a wonderful opportunity for people to meet up and reconnect.
Marking International Widows’ Day (23rd June) in Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh Mothers’ Union.

‘Sharing memories; a time to remember those we loved’ was the theme for a reflective time held in St. John’s Church, Longford on 23rd June 2023 to mark International Widows’ day. A short formal service was conducted by Rev Simon Scott with the lesson 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 read by the Diocesan President, Ann Howard. After the service, Ann spoke on the journey of grief, particularly focusing on the fear a death can bring. She handed out leaflets from the Irish Hospice Foundation to all who attended. These are very informative and she encouraged grieving people to use the Hospice helpline 1800 807077, as well as speaking to clergy, members in the Mothers’ Union, relatives and friends.

Tea and coffee was flowing, traybakes were enjoyed and no one was in a rush away as participants remembered their loved ones.  
It is hoped that this will become an annual event. Talk to your friends about your grief when it’s hard to bear. Sharing your worries often helps.
Two Awards for Mothers' Union All-Ireland

Two plaques were presented to Mothers' Union All-Ireland at a recent service in St. Macartin's Cathedral, in Enniskillen by Mrs Sheran Harper, the Worldwide President of Mothers' Union.

One of the plaques was presented to Mrs June Butler, All-Ireland President, in appreciation of the exceptional work and faithful commitment to Mothers' Union by Mothers' Union in the Province of Ireland.

The second award was presented to Mothers' Union in the Province of All-Ireland in appreciation of our exceptional work  in combatting gender-based violence through advocacy, prayer and practical matters. The award was accepted by Mrs Jacqui Armstrong who takes the lead for All-Ireland in this campaign.

Mothers' Union Annual Gathering 2022

The 2022 Annual Gathering took place on Saturday 24th September in the ICC, Waterfront Hall, Belfast. Two services took place on the previous day in St. Anne's Cathedral, Belfast. The celebrant for the service was Right Revd. George Davison, Bishop of Connor. The guest choir was Kerygma with their musical director, Lorna Palmer and the organist was Neale Agnew. During the service there was an act of rememberance for her Majesty Queen Elizabeth who was Patron of Mothers' Union. The Right Revd. Andrew Forster, Bisop of Derry and Raphoe, gave a very thought provoking sermon at both services.

On the following day we met in the Waterfront for the Annual Gathering during which there were several presentations:

  • Showcasing the work of Mothers' Union in Ireland ~ June Butler & Iris Suitor ~ Click on the link below to view the video that was shown during their presentation.
  • Updates from Mary Sumner House ~  Adam Sach, Richard Millar, Robert Daws & Bev Jullien

  • A report on various projects throughout Great Britain ~ Bishop Emma Ineson, MU Central Chaplain, Bev Jullien, Deb Lee, Steph Nunn, Alison Fernandes and Kim Darby

  • There was also a virtual address and presentations from the Worldwide President, Sheran Harper.

Midday Worship was led by the Archbishop of Armagh, The Most Revd. John McDowell, and the closing prayer by the Bishop of Connor, Right Revd. George Davison

Click on the links below to watch recordings of both the morning and afternoon session.

On the Saturday evening there was a very successful and enjoyable concert featuring Clare Chorale.

Getaway Weekend in Garryvoe
11th – 13th November 2022
Cork, Cloyne and Ross

What a wonderful Getaway Weekend we had in Garryvoe Hotel in East Cork and what a blessing our time there was to all who came. In total about 55 people gathered to enjoy fellowship (there was some catching up to do after three years), relaxation and fun with workshops, free time and excellent food,  and spiritual nourishment with three wonderful people speaking to us over the course of the weekend.

Rev Isobel, our Diocesan Chaplain, shared her faith and life story, which was so interesting and encouraging. How good it is to look back at what God has done in our lives – sometimes we don’t see things at the time but in hindsight can really recognise how He has led us all the way. Isobel also led our worship on Saturday morning on the theme of transformation.

Our guest speaker on Saturday was Bishop Richard Clarke. It is hard to fully convey the both encouraging and challenging message he brought us in two sessions; the first on transformation of ourselves as individuals, and how transformation always involves change of some sort, and often, if not always, a change in mindset. He quoted Catherine of Sienna’s words “Be who God meant to be and you will set the world on fire.” We were challenged to allow Jesus to move us from the shallow waters to deeper waters, just as he said to Simon Peter in Luke 5 – “Put out into deep water…….”. He spoke of the importance of being willing to take risks, to ‘move’ to places that may feel more uncertain and scary, places in which  Jesus can help us to become who God means us to be, places where we can make a difference in this world.

In the second session Richard spoke to us as Mothers’ Union members and as an institution. His main message was about how Mothers’ Union is respected and valued by many, both inside and outside the church, and that this good reputation puts us in a unique position, one where we can speak with integrity and moral authority. He said that, in his years of ministry, Mothers’ Union members have often asked ‘What can we do to help the church?’ He is suggesting that we now must look at how we can take the lead and tell the church what it should be doing when it comes to injustice and the many challenges we face in society such as domestic violence and poverty. Mothers’ Union can advocate for others with authenticity; it will take courage, but this call, to be like a stone in a shoe that makes a person uncomfortable, to be like a tiny piece of grit that can cause a machine to grind to a halt, is one we must take seriously. May we have wisdom and be led by God’s Spirit as we look for ways to do this. May Mothers’ Union also be “who God means it to be and set the world on fire.”

On Sunday morning Rev Eileen Cremin both led and preached at our Service of Holy Communion, which incorporated both the themes of Remembrance and Transformation.

A big thank you to everyone who made the weekend possible; we are grateful for God’s presence with us and pray that the outworking of our time together will reach into many corners of Cork and beyond.
Mothers' Union Getaway 2022

Our MU getaway this year was on the 4th and 5th November in the Springfield Hotel in Leixlip.  The event was organised by the All Ireland Reps Liz Greer and Wendy Halligan.  The getaway was opened by June Butler, All Ireland President.  June welcomed all attendees to the event and introduced our guest speaker Worldwide President, Sheran Harper.  On Friday evening we all enjoyed a delicious meal followed by several fun games at our tables.  

On Saturday morning Sheran gave an inspirational talk on the MU theme for 2022 “Transformation Now”. We need to transform ourselves, personally and spiritually to live out our faith, to transform our churches and communities and to transform MU to be relevant for the 21st century.  We discussed the various challenges along the way.  

Sheran said that MU members showed great resilience, responsiveness and adaptability throughout the pandemic and now is the time to build on this experience.  Sheran presented medals to all the DP’s in Ireland and prayed with each of them as she put the medal around their neck, this was a very special and moving occasion for all present.  Also on Saturday, Wendy and Liz shared an activity on prayer and reflection.  Before the getaway closed, we enjoyed a demonstration by African dancers Sharon and Deborah who are also MU members.  Sharon began by explaining the different items of MU uniform that are worn by the members in Africa before both ladies showed us the very energetic way they dance whilst singing at their meetings!

The getaway was a wonderful opportunity for the members to enjoy a little “me time” in our busy lives.  The Springfield Hotel proved to be a wonderful venue, with great food and also a very relaxing atmosphere.  Everyone commented on how much they enjoyed reconnecting with old friends and making new ones. There was a great sense of fun and fellowship throughout our time away. A huge thanks to June, All Ireland President, Iris Suitor, All Ireland Zonal Trustee, Hazel Speares, VP Action and Outreach, and Ada Lawson, DP Dublin and Glendalough for their support, and valued expertise along the way to make this event happen. Thanks to Dublin and Glendalough for providing the MUe stall on Saturday morning and to Margaret Jacob for having MU resources available.  It was great to see our attendees enjoying themselves and going home enthused and energised about Mothers’ Union.

Save the date for our 2023 getaway. Venue Hotel Kilmore, Cavan which is in the Diocese of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh on the 6th and 7th October 2023.

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