What a year it's been: Cathedral's historic 12 months

Published: 24 Dec 2012 16:000 comments

As the bells tolled to ring in 2012, Dean of Clogher, the Very Rev. Kenneth Hall, rector of St. Macartin's Cathedral, Enniskillen couldn't have imagined what an incredible year it would become. Among the many highlights was an historic visit in June by Her Majesty The Queen, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, for a Service of Thanksgiving to mark her Diamond Jubilee and also a visit on Remembrance Sunday by the Irish Prime Minister, Taoiseach Mr. Enda Kenny.

Dean Kenneth Hall escorting Her Majesty the Queen to St. Michael's Church during her historic visit to Enniskillen.

Dean Kenneth Hall escorting Her Majesty the Queen to St. Michael's Church during her historic visit to Enniskillen.

They were significant visits, marking the first time to have a reigning Monarch in the Cathedral and also the first time to have an Irish Prime Minister.

The only Dean in the Anglican Communion to have two Cathedrals - (St. Macartan's in Clogher, as well as St. Macartin's, Enniskillen) - he admits 2012 has been an incredible year. Planning and preparation began in February for the Queen's visit, which took place on June 26. "It was absolutely amazing," reflected Dean Hall, who believes very few clergy get the chance to host The Queen and Prince Philip and to have them in his own home "was very special."

Among those in attendance were many dignitaries including First Minister Peter Robinson, leading politicians and Lord Lieutenants from Northern Ireland.

The Service of Thanksgiving was followed by the Queen taking the historic steps across the road to St. Michael's Roman Catholic Church, where she met with people from various walks of life.

She subsequently officially opened the new South West Acute Hospital in Enniskillen, where the Dean also met her as a Chaplain of the hospital.

He and Canon Peter O'Reilly, Parish Priest of Enniskillen, were later invited as guests to a Diamond Jubilee reception at Buckingham Palace; during their trip they were filmed by a crew from ITN who are making a documentary to be broadcast in February.

They had just had a Community Harvest Service involving both churches, and when they met with the Queen they informed her of plans for the Community Carol Service. Only last week, Dean Hall wrote to The Queen to tell her it had taken place and how it went.

The recent cross community Carol Service, in aid of Cancer Focus, saw participants follow in the footsteps of The Queen by crossing the street from St. Macartin's to St. Michael's Church. "We were planning for about 80 to 100 people; we had over 400 in attendance," said Dean Hall, who was absolutely delighted.

Following the Buckingham Palace visit in mid October, Dean Hall returned to St. Macartin's for the recordings of Songs of Praise, the first of which was broadcast on Remembrance Sunday.

Dean Hall took part in the Remembrance Day Bomb 25th anniversary commemorations on November 8, which were followed by the annual Remembrance Sunday Services, attended by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who proceeded from the wreath laying ceremony at the cenotaph to the Remembrance Service at St. Macartin's.

The Dean's focus is currently on their Christmas services, including the Parish Carol Service at 7pm this Sunday, December 23, and their Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Services.

It has certainly been a hectic year and a very community orientated year for the Dean, who is now looking towards 2013.

And when asked what the New Year will bring, he smiled and asked; "Shall we set our sights on a meeting with Obama?"

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