“One thing is certain, one way or another Brexit will be a very significant development which will take many years to work through,” said the Bishop of Cloghor.

In his address to the Clogher Diocesan Synod 2018, the Right Rev. John McDowell said, in regard to Brexit, that there has been “a strange mix of both exaggeration and complacency in the claims and discussions around the whole subject.”

He said: “One undoubted danger is that the relationship between the two governments under whose care the different parts of this diocese sit, and for whom we pray week by week, will become much more strained. The peace which we enjoy in NI today is to some degree dependent on the improvement which took place in UK-Irish relations at government level dating back over forty years.”

Speaking to the Diocese, which has a presence on both sides of the Border, the Bishop commented on the “particular importance” of Brexit for people who live in Fermanagh, Tyrone and Monaghan.

He said: “It is not simply because these are Border counties but because they are counties of small farmers and small businesses who have only very limited resources to respond to a period of economic adjustment.”

He continued: “It is important that communities help one another through what might be a bit of a bumpy ride and that our very particular needs as a region living right on the edge of the United Kingdom, Ireland and the European Union are borne in mind.”

A focus on the future ran deep through the Bishop’s address. He said: “For the Church in particular, it is absolutely central to recognise that it is much more important to have a future than to have had a past.”

Aware of “the very different circumstances” that “we now live in,” he noted that the ministry will need to be “much more adaptable” than it has been in the past.

Asking the Synod to think about encouraging people and particularly young adults to consider ordained ministry, the Bishop highlighted the route of Ordained Local Ministry (OLM), a new expression of a traditional form of ministry that the Church introduced this year.

He said: “I cannot emphasise enough just how important it is for the Church of Ireland in rural dioceses like Clogher to inspire young men and women to search their hearts and their circumstances to see whether God is calling them into the ministry of His Church.”

The Bishop wanted to underline the unprecedented pressures that the clergy who are diligent in the exercise of their ministry currently face. He said: “Sometimes pressure comes simply by virtue of having to witness to a way of life to which the world can be indifferent or hostile. Sometimes it can be the weight of regulation which descends upon the smallest as well as the largest parish and which can easily crush the spirit of clergy as well as of volunteers. Sometimes it is because there is a feeling of a lack of support and understanding in the parish.”

He continued: “We are a small diocese with mostly small parishes which need to work together as families of believers.”

During the Synod, the Bishop welcomed Rev. Lorna Dreaning, new Superintendent Minister in Enniskillen Methodist Church, Rev. David Cupples of Enniskillen Presbyterian Church and Monsignor Peter O’Reilly, Parish Priest of St. Michael’s in Enniskillen. Monsignor O’Reilly brought greetings to the Synod from the Roman Catholic Church.

The Clogher Diocesan Synod 2018 took place in the St. Macartin’s Cathedral Hall in Enniskillen on the evening of Thursday September 27. The Synod was preceded by a Service of Holy Communion in St. Macartin’s Cathedral and refreshments.