Double blow for Dumbarton and Vale community as two popular clergy announce their departure

The Rev Kenny Macaulay, St Augustine’s and St Mungo’s churches in Dumbarton and Alexandria, the Rev Liz O’Ryan with elder Tim Rhead and the Rev Ian Johnston, of Riverside Parish Church, at Dumbarton Castle. Pictures by Bill Heaney

By Bill Heaney

One of West Dunbartonshire’s most popular – and hardest working – clergymen and women has officially retired from St Mungo’s in Alexandria and St Augustine’s in Dumbarton.

The Rev Kenny Macaulay has been off sick for some time now.

And this week he sent a valedictory letter to his congregation who have done magnificent work in recent times with their Food Bank and other anti-austerity issues.

He told them: “Although I have been popping up here and there as I have felt able, and with occasional permissions from the Diocese and my GP. It is important for me to explain my absences, and to be very clear about my current position.

“Some years ago, the St Augustine’s people will remember me having some heart problems, and I have been suffering for some time, in a controlled way, from Atrial Fibrillation. This means, basically, an irregular heartbeat and the racing of my heart level up to 160+bpm.

“Up until the beginning of last year, that had been brought under control and was manageable. The last fifteen months or so, however, have been extremely stressful for me, not being helped by difficulties I was experiencing with Food for Thought and how that was impacting on the life of St Augustine’s.

“My AF returned for short periods, but was exacerbated by deep depression which my GP considers now to be chronic. Stress and anxiety have, because of this, escalated, and have had a debilitating effect on my AF, my life and my ministry.

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Always impressive – the Rev Kenny Macaulay hosts the ecumenical Veterans’ Day service in St Augustine’s, Dumbarton. Picture by Bill Heaney

“That has been no secret to those who know me well. It was suggested by my GP, and supported by the Diocese, that I apply for early retirement for medical reasons, and I did so in January 2019.

“After gaining another doctor’s opinion, the Scottish Episcopal Church have granted me the early retirement that I requested, and in effect, I am now, to all intents and purposes, retired.

“However, I have been advised by the Dean, that I must still give the Vestries of both Charges, and also the Diocese, three months’ notice of my retiral date.  My official retiral date will be on April 30th, 2019. It must be noted, however, that I will be considered unfit for work until and beyond that date.”

He added: “I will still be Rector of both Charges until then, and with Diocesan permission, you will still see me around until that date, as much as my current health allows.

“With Liz O’Ryan leaving towards the end of February, you may find me celebrating the Eucharist a little more often than you have of late. It has not been pleasant to feel the way I have done, more recently, and it is my hope that you will understand my position and support me in my decision to go now rather than later.

“Of course, a new adventure begins for us all, not least for Linda [my wife] and me. We need to find somewhere to live with the support of the Church, and that has to be outwith the parish boundaries.

“It also has to suit a couple entering their dotage, as we will be expected to live there until death us do part. That may take some time, but worth taking the time to ensure the right move is made.

“I arrived in St Augustine’s in 2001, and in St Mungo’s five years ago. I have had a wonderful 40 plus years of ministry, and there will be opportunities to reflect on that with you all by the time the removal van comes to take us away.

“So many memories are extremely happy ones and times of much fun and laughter as we have ushered in little glimpses of God’s Kingdom together.

“Of course, there have been very sad losses, and the occasional set-back, but during my ministry here I have felt more loved and supported than anywhere else I have ever been.

“For that I thank you and am eternally grateful. Latterly, sharing ministry with Liz O’Ryan has been uplifting, challenging, and extremely fruitful.”

The Rev Liz is also leaving to go to Haddington in East Lothian.

Father Kenny said: “We are losing a kind priest, a loving and caring pastor, a joy to work with, a trusted confidant, and a bringer of love and devotion.

“She will leave a gaping hole in our parish life and a time of sorrow and sadness at her leaving.

“However, it is time for Liz to have her own parish with her own people, and the folk in Haddington, East Lothian,  are lucky to be getting her as their new Rector. She goes with our love, our prayers, and our best wishes.

“Thank you, Liz, for all that you have given us as a congregation, and to Linda and me personally. Much will now have to be done as you now face an interregnum. We will face that together, with the Dean and the new Bishop.”

The Rev Liz O’Ryan said: “There is much to be thankful for as I reflect on my 4 ½ years with you. I am thankful that God sent me to you… and that you have been part of my journey.

“I have learned much and I leave you a richer person and, I hope, a better and wiser priest because of being with you. But perhaps most of all, I would like to thank all of you for just being you, for being such fun to be with and being so willing to take me to your heart and encourage me along the way.

“It is the greatest gift in the world to feel loved – and I am humbled by the love that you have shown me.”

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