Top archbishop to retire after 25 years of service
THE Church of Ireland is set to appoint a new Archbishop of Dublin by March next year after the Most Rev John Neill announced his retirement from the position yesterday.
Tributes poured in last night for Dr Neill (64), who will celebrate 25 years as a bishop on January 25, 2011, the date on which he plans to stand down. He has served in his current role for the past eight years.
The archbishop is particularly well known for the large role he played in encouraging women in the ministry, proposing the bill that introduced female ordination to the church in 1990.
"I have enjoyed my whole ministry as deacon, priest and bishop and these last years as archbishop have offered me many opportunities to serve in a rich variety of ways working with a wonderful team of both priests and laity," Dr Neill said.
"The time has come for an archbishop with fresh vision and energy to lead the united dioceses and to serve as Metropolitan of the Province (of Dublin)."
He was ordained a deacon in 1969 and a priest the following year, and took up his first position as bishop in 1986, overseeing Tuam, Killala and Achonry, where he was a member of University College Galway's governing body.
The Archbishop of Armagh, the Most Rev Alan Harper, said: "Wherever John has served the witness of the church has been strengthened, the people of the church have been encouraged and the liturgy of the church has been enhanced."
Around a month after Dr Neill's retirement, Dr Harper will call a meeting of the church's Episcopal Electoral College, consisting of four bishops, 24 clergy and 24 laity, who are expected to decide on his replacement by March 2011.