Canon Mark Gardner was instituted as the rector of the new Parish of St Catherine and St James with St Audoen in Dublin on Tuesday November 13. However, on this occasion there has been no change in personnel in the parish but the parish itself is new.
Canon Gardner has been Vicar of the St Patrick’s Cathedral Group of Parishes, now the parish of St Catherine and St James with St Audoen, for almost three years. The new union came into being on the retirement of the Very Revd Robert McCarthy as Dean of St Patrick’s following a resolution of General Synod in 2010.
The institution was carried out by the Archbishop of Dublin, the Most Revd Dr Michael Jackson, who said that Canon Gardner was embarking on “old work in a new phase”.
The preacher was the Dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral, the Very Revd Victor Stacey. Referring to a recent article by Colm Tobin entitled How We Changed… and Stayed the Same, the Dean said that that was what they were celebrating in the institution of the new rector. “At one level life will continue as heretofore for the Vicar (soon to be incumbent) and the parishioners of this parish. On another level, legal and administrative, it is all change,” he explained.
The Dean outlined the history of the parish. In the 1950s and 1960s the Liberties Group of St Peter, St Mathias and St Audoen, St Catherine and St James, St Luke and St Kevin, along with other inner city parishes, experienced serious depopulation as a result of families being rehoused or moving to the suburbs. In dealing with the problem of declining numbers in the inner city parishes, the City and Town Parishes Commission decided to group several churches around St Patrick’s and Christ Church cathedrals.
In 2010 it was deemed that the parish could exist on its own and General Synod voted to allow the group become a union under one incumbent to be known as the Parish of St Catherine and St James with St Audoen. This was to take place on the voidance in the Deanery.