`Significant step' as Belfast Cathedral appoints Catholic Canon

Fr Edward O'Donnell

A priest has spoken of surprise at becoming the first Catholic to serve as an ecumenical canon at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast.

The Church of Ireland cathedral in the city centre described the appointment of Fr Edward O'Donnell as "significant".

Fr O'Donnell is the parish priest of St Brigid's in south Belfast.

It is the first time in the history of St Anne's that a Catholic priest will serve on the cathedral chapter.

Fr O'Donnell will join Methodist minister Rev Ruth Patterson, and Presbyterian minister, also Rev Ruth Patterson, to complete the cathedral's complement of three ecumenical canons.

An ecumenical canon may say or sing morning or evening prayer or the litany; read holy scripture; deliver an address and assist at occasional services.

Fr O’Donnell said he was surprised to learn from the Dean of Belfast, Rev John Mann, that the cathedral chapter had elected him, adding that he was "very pleased and happy to accept".

"While this is a personal privilege for me, the honour is shared with all those who work quietly but persistently to improve and strengthen inter-church relationships," Fr O'Donnell said.

"I recognise that for St Anne's Cathedral community, and for the Catholic community of Belfast, that this is a significant step, perhaps even historic, but more so, I recognise the generosity of the dean and chapter in inviting me, as a representative of the Roman Catholic Church, to be an ecumenical canon.

“I look forward very much to working with them and making a contribution to the Christian life of our city."

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