New dean wants St Anne’s Cathedral ‘to be a place of peace’

Archdeacon Stephen Forde was installed as the new dean of Belfast at St Anne's Cathedral on Sunday
Archdeacon Stephen Forde was installed as the new dean of Belfast at St Anne's Cathedral on Sunday

The new dean of St Anne’s in Belfast has spoken of his desire for the cathedral to be a place “where bridges are built and barriers dismantled”.

At his installation service on Sunday, Archdeacon Stephen Forde was also presented with the “symbols of the teaching, pastoral and sacramental ministry,” needed during his tenure as he became the city’s 14th dean.

The 55-year-old takes over the role from the Very Rev John Mann who has moved to the Salisbury Diocese in England.

Speaking prior to his official installation, Dean Forde said: “With the redevelopment of the Cathedral Quarter, and the arrival of 10,000 students at the University of Ulster, this is a time of new beginnings and new horizons.

“I hope the cathedral will be a place where people who are rushed and hassled by life’s demands will find rest and refreshment, a place of peace in a world of many pressures.”

The father of three added: “I also hope the cathedral will be a place of ecumenical encounter, a place where bridges are built and barriers dismantled.”

Dean Forde was born in Banbridge, grew up in Rathfriland, Crossgar and later Belfast where he attended Campbell College.

He continued his education at University of Edinburgh and the Church of Ireland Theological College.

Ordained in 1987, he served as a rector for the parishes of Larne and Inver with Glynn and Raloo.

He also service as the archdeacon of Dalriada.

Dean Forde’s wife Fiona is a staff nurse at the Antrim Hospital.

He has confirmed that he will be taking on the role of the city’s ‘Black Santa’ for the traditional Christmas charity sit-out.

The dean said he is conscious that the role he has accepted provides a “massive challenge” and is a “daunting task” but said he is still excited by the opportunities it will provide.

“I approach this new role, knowing that will I need the prayers and support of so many others: The staff at the cathedral, the cathedral community who call this place their spiritual home, and also support from the wider community in Belfast, as well as from the clergy and people of the two dioceses that this cathedral serves,” he said.

“Yet I know that the God who calls is also the God who equips.

“All I can ask is that people will pray for me, and work with me, to achieve God’s ambitions for this great cathedral and to embrace all the opportunities of God’s future,” the new dean added.

Outside of the church, Dean Forde’s main interests include music, hill walking, cycling, photography, travel and reading.