First female Canon – History made in Derry Cathedral

St Columb’s Cathedral’s first female Canon has been installed

Photo above – The Dean of Derry, Very Rev Raymond Stewart, Rev Canon Robert Boyd, Rev Canon Katie McAteer and Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Rt Rev Andrew Forster, following the historic Service of Installation at St Columb’s Cathedral.

The Rev Canon Katie McAteer, the Pastoral Director of the CCCMSP Group of Parishes became the first female Canon in the cathedral’s 400–year–history. Also installed at the service on Wednesday evening was Rev Canon Robert Boyd, Rector of Glendermott and Newbuildings.

Canon McAteer was following the example of her father who was a Canon of Chester Cathedral. Canon Boyd had previously served as a member of the Cathedral Chapter of St Patrick’s, in Armagh.

Wednesday evening’s Service was led by the Dean of Derry, the Very Rev Raymond Stewart, who welcomed the new Canons, members of their families and members of their parishes to the Service.

The preacher was the Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, the Rt Rev Andrew Forster, who appointed the two new canons last June. He said “It’s so good to be together, tonight in the Cathedral, to share in this time of celebration, limited though it is in these strange and difficult days that we’re living through.”

It was, the Bishop said, an important night for the Church, the diocese and its parishes, and for Robert and Katie, and their families. They had gathered primarily to worship Almighty God, but they were also there to honour “two of our own” as they became Canons of the ancient and beautiful cathedral of St Columb.

“This evening, Robert and Katie, we’re here to celebrate you, we’re here to encourage you and we’re here to pray for you. And we’re also here to thank you, to thank you for your ministry, to thank you for who you are as followers of Jesus Christ, and to thank you for who you are as ordained people who serve faithfully, who serve well. Tonight, we’re so pleased that you join the Chapter of this Cathedral.”

“Down through the years, Bishops have appointed Canons because in their lives and in their ministry they incarnated what it means to be a pastor – to preach, to teach, to care for God’s people, just as, in history, canons and prebends did. And all of us know that Robert and Katie live out those qualities marvellously: in their own personal lives, in their day–to–day lives, they live out the sermon of Christ; in their pulpits they teach the Good News of Christ; and in their diligent care for their parishioners they care for Christ’s people.

“So, today, for me – as the first people I’ve ever had the pleasure of appointing to a Cathedral stall – we delight in you; I want you to know that we delight in you because you live out the historic qualities of what it is to be a Canon, to preach and teach and care for God’s people. But this isn’t the ecclesiastical equivalent of getting a long–service gong or anything like it; it’s nothing to do with that. It’s about acknowledging your ministry and allowing the wider diocese and the people of God to share that ministry and to benefit from that ministry.”

The Dean was assisted in the Service of Installation by the Rev Canon John Merrick and Diocesan Registrar, the Rev Canon David Crooks. Two other members of the Cathedral Chapter, the Rev Canon Paul Hoey and Rev Canon Paul Whittaker, also took part in the Installation.

The readings were read by Curate-assistant of Glendermott , the Rev Iain McAleavey, and Diocesan Reader Linda Hughes. The organist for the Service was Dr Derek Collins and Joanna Higgins sang the anthem ‘How Beautiful Are the Feet’ from Handel’s Messiah.