We said our farewells this morning to Revd Fianach Lawry at St James the Great, Dollar. Fianach was one of the first women to be ordained priest in the Scottish Episcopal Church. As is often the case with those who are the first, she graced her office in a ministry which was vigorous yet also rich in loving compassion.
When I spoke about her, I said:
Fianach ministered faithfully here in St James over many years. She was greatly loved here because she gave herself unstintingly in response to her calling.
But it is in her Chaplaincy ministry at Glenochil Prison that I shall particularly remember her. Several times I visited the prison with her. I found myself accompanying a sort of mother figure who brought humanity and care. As often in the ministry of women, I found myself quietly envious – maybe respectful would be a more appropriate word – of the range of levels on which she could establish contact.
Much of the best of what a priest does is unseen. Much of what a priest does is remembered for ever by those who receive that ministry. I saw that in Glenochil.
The priest offers unconditional and loving acceptance – shares the loving compassion of a loving God – speaks the love which drives out fear – prays with faith and passion – whispers resurrection hope when all speaks of failure, loss and death.
We give thanks to her today to the God who called her to ministry and now calls her to be with him for ever.