Northern Ireland

Bishop Richard Clarke is new Primate of All-Ireland

Richard Clarke
Richard Clarke has been elected as the new primate of All-Ireland

The Church of Ireland Bishop of Meath and Kildare Richard Clarke has been elected as the new primate of All-Ireland.

He will take over from Alan Harper, who has retired as the Archbishop of Armagh, after five years in the role.

Dr Clarke was educated at Wesley College, Dublin, before attending Trinity College, Dublin and King's College, London, where he studied history and theology.

He will take up the post in December.

Archbishop Harper is due to retire on 30 September, so the Archdeacon of Armagh, the Venerable Raymond Hoey, will carry-out the diocesan responsibilities for the Diocese of Armagh until Dr Clarke begins in December.

The Church of Ireland said provincial responsibilities would be carried by the Archbishop of Dublin, the Most Reverend Dr Michael Jackson, until this date.

Dr Clarke expressed his "sincere gratitude for the huge trust that my fellow bishops have placed in me".

"I truly feel neither worthy of the heritage into which I am to enter, nor adequate for the tasks that lie ahead," he said.

"I look forward to fresh challenges and joys, along with new friendships and discoveries, in the phase of ministry in the gospel that now lies ahead, both in the Diocese of Armagh and within the wider fellowship of the Church of Ireland and beyond.

The House of Bishops also decided that his election would take effect from 15 December 2012 which will be the date of the bishop's translation and enthronement in St Patrick's Cathedral, Armagh.

In the meantime, the Venerable Raymond Hoey, Archdeacon of Armagh, will carry the diocesan responsibilities for the Diocese of Armagh. The Provincial responsibilities are carried by the Archbishop of Dublin, The Most Reverend Dr Michael Jackson until this date.

Ordained

Dr Clarke, 63, and was widowed three years ago. He has two grown-up children.

After being ordained as a deacon in 1975, he served as a curate in Holywood, County Down, for two years before moving to St Bartholomew's with Christ Church, Dublin.

After four years, he served as the Dean of Residence at Trinity College, Dublin for five years.

He also served as a rector in Bandon, County Cork, and was appointed Dean of Cork in 1993.

Dr Clarke was elected and consecrated as the bishop of Meath and Kildare in 1996.

The new primate was chosen by the 11 members of the Church of Ireland's House of Bishops, excluding Bishop Harper.

His appointment has been welcomed by the President of the Methodist Church in Ireland, the Reverend Kenneth Lindsay.

Rev Lindsay said Dr Clarke had worked closely with the Methodist Church in Ireland.

"In 1997 he was a rapporteur at a mile-stone conference in the life of the Methodist Church," he said.

"On behalf of the Methodist people of Ireland I pray God's richest blessing upon him as he enters into a new stage of his ministry."

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