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Incoming President

 

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

Hello members and friends
 
Normally we expect the first two months of the year to drag, particularly as the weather may be inclement and our opportunities for going outdoor may be limited. However – other than a few truly exceptional storms (remember Dudley and Eunice to name but two which descended on us?) and the problems those brought to some parts of our island, both months have been quite pleasant. January was really dry and February seemed at times more like our traditional April. We may have had heavy rain for a few weeks but, thankfully for me anyway, no snow – well at least in Co Down. As I write this we are having the fourth consecutive day of glorious sunshine and the daffodils are waving in the morning breeze. Don’t worry I won’t begin quoting Wordsworth’s poetry……

 

They say we in Ireland are obsessed with the weather and reading over that first section, it would seem to confirm that fact. However, other than the ground being firm underfoot which has enabled me to wrap up and tackle some lovely long walks in locations I usually only contemplate in the summer months, I have had two rather unusual months.  There has been a great deal of transition and change – I am no longer also the Zonal Trustee representing Ireland on the Worldwide Board, a mantle which Iris Suitor has most ably taken over. I knew that would reduce my MU workload but you know what they say happens when one door closes……for me a number of new doors/opportunities have opened, or in some cases reopened. Perhaps for me personally the MU theme for 2022 “Transformation – Now!” has indeed come to fruition.
 
I won’t bore you with all the details, but I have been asked on various fronts to do some new things and invited to different places – some of those you will learn about during the year. The most important thing for me has been getting back to meet members – we have had no gatherings since the Annabella Hayes celebrations last August and suddenly I managed three such events in the space of one week.
 
Last weekend I spoke at the breakfast event hosted by MU in the diocese of Dublin and Glendaloiugh – that was great occasion where members were able to catch up  with their friends and I too was able to eat and chat with many old and new faces. On Sunday we had a wonderful service in Armagh Cathedral, with seven All Ireland Trustees commissioned – there is a link to a recording of the service on this website. There were about 150 members with some family present – and most adjourned afterwards for a welcome “cuppa” and catch up. The decibel level in that room matched the earlier wonderful organ playing in the Cathedral! Then on Thursday I spoke about MU in Ireland and worldwide at a branch meeting in my diocese; it was the first time they had met for two years and the 40 ladies there said how great it was to be together again face-to-face. Transformation of their recent lives.  
 have also become involved in the preparation for what we hope will be two transformational events this year. The first is a conference to be held in Liverpool in July (having already been postponed twice due to Covid) at which we hope all the dioceses in Britain and Ireland will be represented – it is entitled “Reimaging MU”. The second is a really important for Ireland; after being abandoned in 2020 and 2021, the Annual Gathering will finally go ahead in Belfast in September 2022. We have formed a small planning committee and are working hard to put the foundations in place for a very special two days on 23 and 24 September. I hope that many members across Ireland will come to join us for this momentous occasion. Information about the services in St Annes’ Cathedral and the actual Gathering in the Waterfront Hall will be available in April.
 
So while I have been well occupied, everything in my life in the past few weeks – like that of everyone else – has been overshadowed by the events in Ukraine. We have all experienced feelings of horror, sadness, worry, disbelief….. With me it’s overwhelming helplessness – of only being able to be an observer at a great human tragedy but what can I do in practical terms other than donate material goods and money? But I, and we all, can pray.
 
At Saturday’s meeting of All Ireland Trustees we agreed that we would encourage all MU members across Ireland to stop whatever they are doing every evening at 7pm and pray for the situation in and the people of Ukraine – using whatever prayers they may have or simply pray straight from their hearts. Also we will hold a virtual Prayer Vigil on Wednesday evening 9 March at 9.30pm and the MU zoom link for that has been made available to all dioceses. No matter how and where we pray, God will hear our prayers.
 
Many prayers have been written and published about Ukraine in the past few weeks but I will end with a very simple prayer which we can all use, every day.
 
For those who are fleeing: sanctuary
For those who are staying: safety
For those who are fighting: peace
For those whose hearts are breaking: comfort
For those who see no future: hope. Amen
 
If life was “normal”, I would have had a few words about the three occasions in March which we in MU might/will/should be celebrating – International Women’s Day (9 March), St Patrick’s Day (17 March) and Mothering Sunday (27 March) but all I will say is, if you can and do celebrate them, enjoy with family and friends and thank God too that you can do so. We must never take such things for granted.
 
God bless and please keep praying that there will be transformation for the dreadful situation in Ukraine.
 
With love
 
June

 

 

2022 Theme

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.

 

MULOA

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.