The Dean of Belfast, the Very Rev John Mann, has announced he will be leaving St Anne’s Cathedral at Easter to take up a post in England.
The dean has been appointed team rector of the parish of Swanage with Studland in the diocese of Salisbury, though he said the decision to leave Northern Ireland has been weighing on him for some time.
He made the news public that he was returning to his “primary calling” as a clergyman at the 11am Sunday service in St Anne’s.
Dean Mann said: “My wife Helen and I have been privileged to serve in four parishes in the Church of Ireland, as well as St Anne’s Cathedral, and have seen great change in the community.
“Our children were both born here and had much of their education in Belfast. We will be leaving with fond memories and with the intent of being back as often as is practical.”
Dean Mann said the decision to move across the Irish Sea had been weighing on him and Helen for some time, and had been taken for several reasons.
But the main reason, he said, was because St Anne’s is passing from one phase of transition, into which he was appointed, to another, as the Cathedral Quarter approaches very significant change.
“St Anne’s will rise to the opportunities and challenges that will face a new dean and the cathedral board over the next five years,” Dean Mann said. “It is from this perspective a good time to go.
“We will also be moving closer to our family and I look forward not only to that, but to returning for a few years to my primary calling as a parish clergyman.
“It is a time to look forward for us all.”
Meanwhile, Northern Ireland charities received grants totalling more than £220,000 raised by St Anne’s Cathedral’s Black Santa sit-out at a special service on Sunday.
Among those attending the annual Good Samaritans Service in St Anne’s were charities working locally with groups including the homeless, refugees, people with disabilities, health charities, young people and older people.
The cheques were presented by special guests Dame Mary Peters and entertainer George Jones.
Two of the largest grants were to charities working with the homeless and street sleepers. The Simon Community and the SoS Bus were each awarded grants of £5,000.
Shelter Campaign for the Homeless was also awarded £2,000.
The Ulster Youth Orchestra received a grant of £4,740 while Oh Yeah Music Centre was given £3,400. The RNLI has been awarded £1,527, the amount needed to train a crew member.
A grant of £1,150 to the Migrant Centre NI will pay for training sessions for 20 people, enabling them in turn to facilitate the charity’s Belonging Project Workshops.