• Thu. May 19th, 2022

Support group created for distressed clergy of all denominations

ByJulie J. Helfer

Jan 31, 2022

A new support organization has been set up to help distressed clergy of all faiths in Ireland.

Care4Clergy was set up following contact by Belfast Priest Fr Martin Magill with retired Presbyterian minister Reverend Gabrielle Farquhar after he heard her discuss issues faced by clergy during a radio interview.

“The issues were so similar,” he said, that he contacted her “and a few of us wondered if we could put something in place” to help other members of the clergy. Reverend Farquhar stressed that the support group is “for clergy across Ireland”.

The new Care4Clergy website notes that “care for and for clergy has slipped so much under the radar that it can be hard to find.”

He adds that “while 21st century clergy still have the immeasurable privilege of being present in people’s lives in times of great joy and sadness, conversely there have probably never been so many challenges and a higher level of stress among the clergy.”

The group has established a port team of four experienced clergy who provide a “place of spiritual and psychological sanctuary”, which was born out of a “recognition of the pressures and expectations that all clergy face and the lack of opportunities they have to talk about it in a confidential setting.

Port team

Port team members are Reverend Farquhar, retired Church of Ireland priest, Reverend Elizabeth Hanna, Redemptorist priest Fr Ciarán O’Callaghan, and former Methodist President, Reverend Harold Good, who together with Father Alec Reid oversaw the dismantling of IRA weapons.

Between them, the four have over 100 years of clergy experience.

“Regardless of our different backgrounds within the Christian Church, we have found that certain triggers for hardship, stress, burnout, conflict are common to all clergy,” Rev. Farquhar said.

Father O’Callaghan underlined the “inter-church dimension” of the port team. “This will allow clergy to have a safe space outside of their own denomination, should they need it. It also gives a powerful testimony to Jesus’ desire for unity among his followers,” he said.

Reverend Hanna stressed that their dealings with distressed clergy would be “completely confidential”. The port team offered “an opportunity for someone to talk about any issues that concern them. Very often being a clergyman can be lonely and all you need to do is talk to someone who has been there,” she said.

Details on the Care4Clergy Facebook page or on care4clergy.com/