The historical roots of Rossorry Parish Church can be traced back over 900 years, as records suggest the church was originally founded in 1084, in honour of St Fanchea, and was served for some time by the Augustinian monks at Lisgoole Abbey.
The original church was located across the Sillees River from Lisgoole, now adjacent to the house at Tarmon Brae. But in the 19th century the church became too small for the population and so a new church was built in the townland of Mullanacaw, on the west bank of the River Erne, just on the outskirts of Enniskillen.
The ‘new’ church, built in 1841, stands on a prominent hill site, overlooking Enniskillen town and the rural hinterland of west Fermanagh.
Today, Rossorry is one of the largest Church of Ireland parishes in the Diocese of Clogher.
I have been incumbent as rector for the past five years, but follow in the footsteps of a tradition of long incumbencies, as there had only been three rectors in the previous 100 years.
Situated on the edge of Enniskillen town, the church serves both urban and rural communities. The parish consists of a large number of families with young and school-age children, as well as those who have grown-up children, and mature members as well.
The demographic and social make of the parish is very broad, which brings a wealth of wisdom, experience and diversity to parish life. The parish has had historic links with Jones Memorial Primary School and Portora Royal School, both of which lie within the parish boundaries.
I am assisted in the pastoral care in the parish by Canon Des Kingston, former chaplain of Portora Royal School, and Wendy Houston, the diocesan pastoral assistant.
Within the past few months a number of lay people in the parish have been trained in Christian counselling, and form the new Pastoral Care Team.
Along with Wendy, Canon Des and myself, this team provide pastoral care, through regular visiting, of the elderly and housebound in the parish, as well as supporting young families, married couples, the bereaved and any who may be encountering difficulties of any kind.
The Pastoral Care Team has been established as a direct result of the Parish Development Plan which was implemented following a detailed survey of every parish family some time ago. This survey highlighted areas of parish life that needed some improvement, or needed to be changed, or where there were gaps in our outreach and ministry.
As part of the Development Plan, our worship has seen greater involvement of lay people, and especially in encouraging the younger parishioners to take an active part in church life.
Our praise band mBlaze, lead the music at services on a regular basis.
The group, under the direction of Catherine Irwin, consists of flutes, cornet, flugelhorn, guitars, drums and vocalists, and lends a different dimension to our worship.
The choir, under the direction of Nathan Barrett, continues to grow, not only in its membership, but in its musical repertoire and capabilities. Many of the choir members are studying for the RSCM Voice for Life awards.
Outside of worship, a number of activities have also been initiated, as a result of responses to the development plan.
These include a now thriving and ever-increasing Parent and Toddler Group which meets each week.
This provides an opportunity for mums, dads, grannies, child-minders, and others, to come along with their toddler, and enjoy a time of chat and companionship, while the young ones learn to socialise and have great fun playing together.
A number of people have discovered new-found talents in arts and crafts, through the oil and water painting, and basket weaving classes which have been held in the Parochial Hall, with great success. These classes bring people together, and develop skills and talents which some did not even think they had!
The Parochial Hall is a busy hub within the local community, and provides activities for many different groups. The Wednesday Club meets weekly (on Wednesday, not surprisingly), and is a great social time for those over 50. With visiting speakers, home-grown entertainment and various outings during the year, the club is very popular and attracts a large number of people every week.