Irish Council of Churches President Receives Prestigious Romanian Orthodox Accolade
The President of the Irish Council of Churches, Rev. Fr Godfrey O’Donnell, was awarded the accolade of ‘Stavrophore’ by the Romanian Orthodox Church on Sunday 10th November 2013. Rev. Fr O’Donnell was conferred with the right to wear a cross as a special honour and symbol in recognition of his work to firmly establish the Romanian Orthodox Church in Ireland and of his long service to the Romanian Orthodox community.
The award ceremony took place in St. Columba’s Parish Community Centre in Hartstown, Dublin, and was attended by 250 guests, including representatives from throughout the Orthodox traditions in Ireland.
In presenting the award which is in the gift of the Romanian Orthodox Metropolitan, Vicar Bishop Ignatie Trif, stated that almost all of the priests present were helped or supported by Rev. Fr O’Donnell at some point and had come to show their respect and appreciation. Bishop Trif also paid tribute to the close ties fostered by Rev. Fr O’Donnell with the Catholic and Anglican Churches, which aided him greatly in finding locations for new Romanian Orthodox parishes outside Dublin.
Rev. Fr O’Donnell was commended for assisting the first Romanian Orthodox priest to get settled in Ireland, for establishing their permanent worship space in Leeson Park and for working tirelessly with many Romanian immigrants, helping them deal with immigration, visa and work related issues.
Upon receipt of the award, and the right to be known as a ‘Stavrophore Priest’, Rev. Fr O’Donnell expressed his deep gratitude and spoke of how surprised and overwhelmed he was to be honoured in such a way. He was particularly moved by the inclusion of his wife Ruth’s name on the ceremonial scroll as a testament to the team leadership and guidance they provide to members of their parish. Rev. Fr O’Donnell also spoke of his delight that such a large number of Church members were present, particularly his very first parish priest, who had travelled from Romania.
The title ‘Stavrophore’ is derived from the Greek stavrophoros, meaning ‘cross–bearer’. It is the highest award bestowed upon married priests in the Romanian Orthodox tradition.
Rev. Fr O’ Donnell, who was born in Derry city in 1939, is a former member of the Jesuit Order, but entered the Orthodox Church in 1985 with his wife Ruth. Since then, he has served as President of the Dublin Council of Churches and has been actively involved in ecumenical, interfaith and commemorative events and projects. He has also worked for a number of years as a psychotherapist in North Dublin.
The last Census records that there are 45,000 Orthodox adherents currently living in Ireland.