On Saturday evening, 24 September, during the Vigil Mass for the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time in St Tierney’s church, Roslea, Fr John Chester was installed as the new Parish Priest of Roslea parish by Bishop Liam MacDaid. Bishop MacDaid was the chief-celebrant of the Mass and he was joined by Fr Chester and by Monsignor Vincent Connolly, PE, Roslea, a former Parish Priest of Carrickmacross. The parish of Roslea straddles the Fermanagh-Monaghan border and includes Magherarney and Smithboro in Co Monaghan.
The Rite of Induction and Installation took place following the proclamation of the Gospel and the delivery of the homily by the bishop. Fr Chester’s appointment was read out by the bishop, who then instructed him as to his rights and duties to lead the People of God in communion with the whole Church. Fr Chester then made a Profession of Faith before being formally installed to the canonical charge of Roslea parish. He was presented with two symbols of his office – the Lectionary containing the Word of God and the keys of the parish church. These represent his mandate to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and his responsibilities of governance and leadership, in collaboration with all the people.
Fr Chester thanked all who had helped make the occasion so special, especially the large numbers of people who attended and participated. He was particularly pleased to welcome his parents, Michael and Maureen Chester, Enniskillen, his sisters, and brother, his brothers-in-law, sister-in-law and nieces and nephews. Following the Mass, all were invited to refreshments in the nearby Roslea Community Centre.
Fr John Chester is from Enniskillen. He was ordained to the Priesthood in June 1988. After his ordination he served in the Cathedral parish of Monaghan and Rackwallace in addition to teaching duties in Beech Hill College. He joined the staff of St Macartan’s College, Monaghan in 1995 where he remained until his return to the Cathedral parish in 2007. Over the years, Fr Chester has been priest-director with ACCORD, the Catholic marriage care service and has served as a member of the Executive Council of the organisation. He a keen and talented musician and producer and also enjoys outdoor life, especially cycling.
Bishop MacDaid’s Homily:
‘Dear Brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ,
‘During the course of their life-time, most families have to face difficult challenges on the way which often bring pain perhaps accompanied by suffering and shame. These experiences may not come singly and may persist for a longer period of time. Your own parish community have not had an easy time over the past twenty years.
‘The kind of experience which the community has will depend to a certain extent on the community itself. Some communities have a lot of members who delight in circulating juicy stories. The accuracy of the facts may not be as important as the news worthiness of the story. Some people will take the kindest interpretation of what others do while another set of people will be deeply unforgiving and take the most-unkind possible interpretation of what happened. There are people who are inclined to act and think in a kindly spirit and who are glad to let go of evil happenings and leave them behind. There are others who judge quickly and harshly, and others again who are content to beat their breast, acknowledge their weaknesses and failings and happy to leave judgement to the God of mercy.
‘In making our way through this kind of experience, leadership takes on an even greater than usual importance, especially for a group. I know how blessed you felt you were to have Fr. John Flanagan to lead and guide you through recent difficult times. He was an anchor to the parish and his touch was gentle and kindly. He worried and cared for everyone and was always conscious of the needs of the lame and the wounded. I can understand your sense of loss at his going and I am so glad you made him aware of your appreciation of his generosity in pouring himself out for you. Just as a parent cannot give all their love and attention to one child, a Bishop has to share the resources at his disposal as best he can keeping in mind the needs of the entire diocesan family. This is the background to Fr. John’s move. His skills and talents were needed elsewhere.
‘Any fair-minded person who knows the diocese and the priests would consider Roslea parish to be well served. You already have the considerable wisdom and experience of Mgr. Vincent Connolly, who has graced many important places, not least of which was Carrickmacross where he was Parish Priest for over twenty years. He brings with him a knowledge of the missionary church having spent four happy years serving in Kitui.
‘Now, this evening, I can finally introduce to you and appoint as your Parish Priest, Fr. John Chester who has earned the affection and respect of the people and his colleagues wherever he worked. A native of Enniskillen, Fr. John has the experience of living on both sides of the border. After studying in Maynooth and his ordination in 1988 he went to serve in Monaghan and taught in Beech Hill College for four years. Then he returned for a year to Maynooth to study for a Higher Diploma in Education and when he received this qualification he was appointed to a teaching position in St. Macartan’s College in 1995. He taught there for twelve years and was appointed curate in Monaghan in 2007 and has served there until now.
‘Fr. John is known as one of the hardest working priests in our diocese. He is greatly respected by his colleagues for his many admirable qualities. He is always there and always makes himself available when he is needed. A talented musician, he is also a talented producer of shows. I have personally seen him bring a small group of actors and actresses from rural Ardaghey to our capital city and wow an audience there before they went home to check and see if they could find Ardaghey on any atlas. We feel we have not got to the bottom of him yet so it’s up to you now Roslea to coax and to bring the remainder to the surface.
‘Above all he is a spiritual man, a man of prayer and a good priest. He will serve both you and the Word of God with great generosity. I hand him over to your care knowing that you will take him to your hearts and love him. So as we thank Fr. John Flanagan for his immense contribution to this parish and wish him the same success and happiness in Errigal Truagh as he had with us. We warmly welcome Fr. Chester. We know we will benefit enormously from his variety of talents and his generosity in using them. Perhaps you would like to express your welcome in the usual way.’
+Liam S. MacDaid
St Tierney’s Church, Roslea, Co Fermanagh
24 September 2016.