The incoming President of the Mothers’Union in Clogher Diocese, Mrs. Heather Ellis, an active figure in the community, takes up office in June.
“Due to the coronavirus pandemic, these past years have been very different for Mothers’ Union members,” admits Heather, who succeeds outgoing President Irene Boyd.
Heather, wife of Bishop Ian Ellis, former Rector of Rossorry Parish Church, near Enniskillen, has three children, Mark, Timothy, and Naomi, and three grandchildren, Aidan,Justin and Phoebe.
A native of Armagh, she was raised on a farm on the edge of Markethill in the Parishes of Loughgilly and Clare. She studied Geography at Queen’s University Belfast and following her graduation with a PGCE, she taught Geography in Carolan Grammar School, Belfast.
Although Fermanagh has been her home for the past seven years, Heather has lived in many parts of Northern Ireland.
“Ian taught physics in Antrim Grammar School and following our marriage we set up home there while I changed career to Human Resources beginning in the Braid Valley Hospital and later as a manager in the Royal Group of Hospitals, Belfast,” recalls Heather.
She explains: “In my 39 -year career in Health and Social Care I have been employed in Northern, Eastern and Southern HSC Trusts. I am now employed as an Associate Consultant of the HSC Leadership Centre, Belfast.”
Heather recollects that in 1986 they moved to live in Lisburn whilst Ian undertook his training in the Church of Ireland Theological College in Dublin.
She recalls: “After ordination, Ian was appointed Curate Assistant in St Mark’s Armagh, and I was back at home again in County Armagh with my young family reconnecting with old childhood friends and working at this time in Craigavon Area Hospital and St Luke’s Hospital in Armagh. We moved to Loughgall and Grange parishes in 1991 and settled into parish life for 11 years.”
Afterwards, they lived in Portadown when Ian was appointed as NI Education Secretary for the Church of Ireland and the children were educated in Armagh Royal School and Portadown College, “growing up in the country” as she had.
Heather continued: “In 2015, we left Portadown to move to County Fermanagh when Ian was appointed Rector of Rossorry Parish. I have loved revisiting my growing-up years in the farming community and we have been able to use our love of the countryside in parish videos helping us to once again reconnect with nature and the land.”
A busy figure locally, she is a member of Fermanagh Choral Society and was Branch Leader of Rossorry Mothers’ Union.
Rotary International is a keen interest for her and she was President of the Rotary Club of Enniskillen in 2020/2021.
“I have been involved in Rotary for 12 years now having been introduced as a Rotarian into the Portadown Rotary Club by my good friend Ernest Lawson who was a former District Governor,” explained Heather.
She pointed out: “I enjoy the fact that Mothers’ Union and Rotary involve me in the service of my community in a different ways from church and I remain keen to continue to raise their profiles. We are two different communities of people who share common values and personal integrity as well as having a desire to bring change and develop our service to others in Co Fermanagh, Ireland and worldwide.”
In September 2019 along with colleagues from Enniskillen Rotary, Heather travelled to Kenya to visit a Rotary project in Rombo, Kajiado province.
She commented: “This experience had a profound effect upon me, and all those who travelled. We saw a number of Rotary projects working at first-hand, and it cemented my vision for worldwide projects and the outreach Mothers’Union too has in Africa.”
Heather went on to pay tribute to the support Mothers’ Union has given to its many members across the Diocese during these COVID times.
She pointed out that many clubs are “probably still currently meeting by ZOOM and in person as well and keeping in touch by telephone with members who are self-isolating and still uncomfortable, finding it difficult to get back to normal.”
She concluded: “ Bishop Ian and I look forward to your continued support as we move to the next stage of our ministry in the Diocese.”
As outgoing Diocesan President Irene and some of the Trustees step down this year we take the opportunity to acknowledge all the work they have done during challenging times in the life of our organisation in Clogher Diocese.
All Ireland President June Butler
Our evolving response to the effects of a global pandemic combined with the start of a new triennium presents an opportunity to look to the future with fresh vision as we adapt and learn to thrive in these changing times.
In 2020/21, Mothers’ Union members showed amazing resilience, responsiveness and adaptability. Now is the time to build on this experience to:
- Transform ourselves, personally and spiritually, to live out our faith
- Transform the churches and communities we work with and of which we are a part to reflect Christ’s kingdom
- Transform Mothers’ Union to be relevant for 21st century life.
As a member-led global organisation we are actively listening to the voices of our members to create a vision for the future that is grounded in their views and their experiences within their communities. This will help us create our strategy beyond 2020.
There will be a series of regional meetings aiming to reach and hear from all of the 600+ dioceses in which Mothers’ Union works today, to help us answer some recurring questions we have been hearing:
- Who are we as Mothers’ Union?
- Whose lives are and could/should we be touching?
- What difference are and could/should we be making in people’s lives?
- How do we most effectively make that difference?
From the process, a clear framework and direction for Mothers’ Union globally will emerge that reflects the realities of local communities and facilitates mutual and external accountability. We will identify key priorities for our policy, our programmes, and our faith work, and commit to sharing information on the impact of these across the movement.