The Very Rev William Morton has paid moving tribute to the people of Londonderry following his unexpected election last night as the next Dean and Ordinary of St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin.
He will take over the post later this year in succession to The Very Rev Victor Stacey, who retired at the end of March.
Speaking to the Londonderry Sentinel this morning, Dean Morton confessed that his election had been “a bit of a shock”.
He said he only found out on Monday evening at 4.45pm that he had been considered for the position - one of the highest offices within the Church of Ireland.
“Rosemary and I have been here in Londonderry for almost 20 years,” he said.
“They ere very happy years for us. We have both enjoyed our time here in the city.
“The people could not have been more supportive, helpful, friendly and loyal to us. They have done everything for us. It has been absolutely amazing,” he said.
St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin is the National Cathedral of the Church of Ireland and the Dean is elected from among the members of the Cathedral Chapter by the members of the Chapter.
Dr Morton, in addition to being the current Dean of Derry, is Prebendary of Howth (St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin).
Those who know him know that he is deeply committed to the arts and during his tenure in St Columb’s Cathedral diversified the role of the Cathedral, hosting cross–community and ecumenical events in the form of exhibitions, lectures, seminars and guided tours. He has also been very involved in several community initiatives.
The Most Rev Dr Richard Clarke, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, said: “I wish Dean Morton well on his election as the next Dean of the National Cathedral, and to this new phase of his life and ministry. I know that he will draw on his extensive and valuable experience as Dean of Derry in this important role in the life of the Church.”
The Most Rev Dr Michael Jackson, Archbishop of Dublin, said: “I wish to express my good wishes to the Very Rev William Morton, Dean of Derry, on his election as Dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral. Dean Morton will bring a wide range of gifts to his new position. Personally, I look forward to working with him in the months and years ahead.”
Yesterday afternoon’s election was preceded by a celebration of the Eucharist by the Archbishop of Dublin.
Following the election, the Dean–elect, together with the collegiate body, processed to the chancel, where a setting of Te Deum was sung by the cathedral choir. Details of the new dean’s installation will follow in due course.
Last night the Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Ken Good, congratulated Dean Morton on his appointment, describing it as “a fitting recognition of his highly effective work as Dean of Derry over the past 19 years”.
“William’s ministry in St Columb’s Cathedral, in the city of Londonderry, in the Dioceses of Derry and Raphoe, and in the wider church and community, has been selflessly exercised and greatly appreciated,” Bishop Good said.
“His liturgical proficiency, pastoral dedication and musical expertise are ideally suited to cathedral ministry. The major restoration projects he has overseen in St Columb’s Cathedral have been particularly effective and widely applauded.
“On behalf of the Diocese, I wish to thank William and his wife Rosemary for the remarkably generous manner in which they have given of themselves to the life and witness of St Columb’s Cathedral and I wish them every blessing as they prepare for their move to St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin.”