Interview with Marjorie Cavanagh
Added on Sunday 10th April 2016
Lay Ministry: On following God’s call
This interview was published in the Church of Ireland Gazette on 18 March 2016:
Lay Ministry: On following God’s call
Majorie Cavanagh in conversation with David Brown
Marjorie, could you tell me a bit about yourself?
I grew up in the north of England in an inner city suburb. I suppose we were poor but I didn’t notice that. I would attend Sunday School, but rarely church. I’ve felt close to God throughout my life. I tasted a few different approaches to worship and by the time I reached adulthood had settled into an Anglican tradition. It has only been in the last 15 years or so that I felt God nudging me to serve him actively in new ways – and this came as a bit of a surprise.
So how would you describe period of calling?
I think I felt God stirring things up when I decided to look a little deeper into the Christian faith – some 20 years ago, maybe. I wanted to find out more about ways in which my personal belief fitted into the faith of the Christian Church and undertook some further study.
I joined a local group to share and learn with others and was surprised how much I discovered through this. I went on to lead something called The Bishop’s Course and later to undertake a Foundation in Ministry Course organised by the Diocese of Chester. This was designed to enable folk to explore their calling.
This course drew people together; some were to become readers, parish assistants or parish evangelists or – others would continue into training for ordination. At the time I believed my path was towards evangelism.
Jesus has called each one of us to serve, to go out and make disciples of all nations. I think we all learn not necessarily in the sense of reading, studying and writing essays but in a practical sense too.
I started out by doing a little ‘research’ in the church I attended and began to discover the expectations and needs of individuals – and these were diverse.
We tried to include everyone by providing wider options and fresh approaches – hard work but nevertheless successful. There would be ‘something for everyone’. The result? Our attendance grew.
I became a little bit more involved and then, on moving from England to South Kerry I felt strongly pushed by the Lord – and the rector – to get on and become a licensed diocesan reader.
Looking back, I can see this was God’s plan for me all along. Whether I didn’t recognise it or preferred to ignore it, no one can say.
Having recognised God’s call, what was the next step?
I was accepted to study at the Church of Ireland Theological Institute (CITI) and undertook a further two years of study – an excellent experience and one to be recommended. However, it was pretty challenging and the demands upon my time became greater than ever.
The Study Days at CITI were really helpful and the staff were always very supportive. It was good, too, to share with others from different parts of the country and to experience the diversity of approaches to worship discussed within our groups – and to share an act of worship together.
Marjorie, could you describe what you have learnt from being a diocesan reader?
I suppose each of us is on a lifelong learning journey; we never stop learning. My role enables me to continue on this journey as I am encouraged as a member of our worship team to develop and grow.
We learn from others, by being involved in the day–to–day issues within our communities and faith communities. Here in Kenmare we work actively together with other denominations and have done for several years now.
It is a pleasure and privilege to be invited to lead worship in our local churches and the local Methodist Church. For the last four years we have worked as an ecumenical team to provide World Day of Prayer services, carol services, Bible studies and all sorts of ecumenical gatherings. This has been a real joy and time of growth – not just for me but for our community.
Baptisms, weddings, funerals and marriage preparation all provide great opportunities for sharing the good news of Jesus.
Any regrets, Marjorie, in following God’s call?
Regrets? None whatsoever. I would encourage others to listen to God’s call and to follow – wherever that might lead. He is a God of surprises and a God of provision. The strength we need each day is given by him and him alone.
A final comment?
As Christians, we are called to serve; called to use the gifts and talents we’ve been given in order to build up God’s Kingdom. To equip us, we are each been given specific gifts at different times in our lives – although we often fail to notice. God is working his purpose out in all of our lives.