40 years of Ministry - Camus-Juxta-Bann

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On Sunday 29th June (the Feast of St. Peter) the congregation of St Mary’s Church in Macosquin was joined by a number of his friends to mark the 40th anniversary of Canon Mike Roemmele’s ordination to the priesthood in a celebration of the Eucharist with special music by the church choir.   
The service of Thanksgiving began with the baptism of infant Elijah William Alan Clarke,  who was  born on 11th June.
In his address,  Canon Walter Lewis, former Rector of St Thomas’ Church in Belfast spoke of the Rector’s service in Ireland,  in various parts of the United Kingdom and  the world-wide Anglican Communion,  including places as far afield as the Falkland Islands, the Middle East and the Balkans.  
At the end of the service, the Rector knelt on the chancel step as several retired clergy and representatives of the congregation laid their hands on him and prayed that he would be blessed and empowered by the Holy Spirit for his continuing priestly ministry in the Parish of Camus-juxta-Bann.  
The service was followed by a parish lunch in the church hall and an enjoyable game of croquet on the church lawn.

After his first year of ministry as a Deacon in the parish of St Columba Portadown, The Reverend Mike Roemmele was ordained priest by Archbishop George Otto Simms in St Patrick's Cathedral Armagh on 29th June 1974, the Feast of SS Peter and Paul. He continued his curacy with the Revd Herbie Cassidy in Portadown until he was invited to Christchurch, Limavady in this Diocese, where he served with Canon George Knowles. In 1979 he responded to a call to exercise his priestly ministry in the Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf, the Arabian states which make up a large part of the Anglican Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East, when he was appointed chaplain to the expatriate English- speaking communities in Bahrain. Under his leadership, St Christopher's Church was established as one of the two Diocesan Cathedrals.
In 1983 Mike was commissioned as a Royal Air Force chaplain and over the next 17 years his ministry was largely exercised in UK postings in Scotland and England, but also in many far-off places including the Falkland Islands, the Balkans and a number of shorter tours on RAF deployments in Europe, Kuwait, other parts of the Middle East and even in Canada. In 2000 he was re-commissioned as a chaplain in the Royal Army Chaplains Department. He served for a time with The Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers in Hampshire, before being relocated to the Royal Engineers in Antrim. Thereafter his military service was as a chaplain with the Royal Irish Regiment in the Training Depot in Ballymena and finally with each of the Northern Ireland based Battalions in the final years of Operation Banner.
In 2007, having completed his service with the armed forces, Mike returned to parish ministry and to this diocese when he was appointed Rector of Camus-juxta-Bann. In recognition of his experience and service the Bishop appointed him as a Canon of the Diocese shortly before Christmas in 2013 and he was installed in St Columb's Cathedral on the Eve of St Patrick's Day this year.
Much of Canon Mike's ministry has been exercised outside the Church of Ireland. In other parts of the Anglican Communion the robes of priestly office are more elaborate than those which are familiar in his home church.
Until he returned to this diocese Mike was accustomed to wearing liturgical vestments which were made for him by a member of one his former congregations. The embroidery of each liturgical coloured vestment reflects a different chapter in the story of his life's ministry. In this 40th year of his priesthood, he will wear those vestments to celebrate communion at the beginning of the penitential seasons and for the major Festivals of the church's year.
Each of the vestments has symbolic significance:
Even though priests of the Old Testament wore vestments in their liturgical rites, the "Christian" vestments are not really adaptations of them; rather, they are the vestments which Christians developed from the dress of the Graeco-Roman world, including the religious culture. Nevertheless, the Old Testament idea of wearing a special kind of clothing in the performance of liturgical rites did influence the Church. St. Jerome asserted, "The Divine religion has one dress in the service of sacred things, another in ordinary intercourse and life". After the legalization of Christianity in A.D. 313, the Church continued to refine "who wore what when and how" until about the year 800 when liturgical norms for vesting were basically standardized. To date, for the celebration of Communion in many parts of the Anglican Communion a priest wears an alb, cincture, stole, and chasuble.
The alb is a long, white garment, which flows from shoulders to ankles, and has long sleeves extending to the wrists. (The word alb means "white") The alb was a common outer garment worn in the Graeco-Roman world. The spiritual purpose reminds the priest of his baptism, when he was clothed in white to signify his freedom from sin, purity of new life, and Christian dignity. Moreover, the Book of Revelation describes the saints who stand around the altar of the Lamb in Heaven as "These are the ones who have survived the great period of trial; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb" (7:14).
In the same way, the priest must celebrate the Eucharist with purity of body and soul, and with the dignity befitting Christ's priesthood. The former vesting prayer was "Make me white, O Lord, and purify my heart so that being made white in the Blood of the Lamb, I may deserve an eternal reward".
The cincture is a long, thick cord with tassels at the ends which secures the alb around the waist. It may be white or it may be the same liturgical colour as the other vestments. In the Graeco-Roman world, the cincture was like a belt. Spiritually, the cincture reminds the priest of the admonition of St. Peter: “So gird the loins of your understanding; live soberly; set all your hope on the gift to be conferred on you when Jesus Christ appears. As obedient sons, do not yield to the desires that once shaped you in you ignorance. Rather, become holy yourselves in every aspect of your conduct, after the likeness of the holy One who called you” (I Peter 1:13-15).
The former vesting prayer was, “Gird me, O Lord, with the cincture of purity and extinguish in my heart the fire of concupiscence so that, by the virtue of continence and chastity always abiding in my heart, I may better serve Thee”.
The stole is a long cloth, usually about four inches wide and of the same colour as the chasuble, that is worn around the neck like a scarf. It is secured at the waist with the cincture. Traditionally, the stole was criss-crossed on the chest of the priest to symbolize the cross. The stole too is of ancient origin.
Rabbis wore prayer shawls with tassels as a sign of their authority. The crisscrossing of the stole also was symbolic of the criss-crossed belts the Roman soldiers wore: one belt, holding the sword at the waist, and the other belt, holding a pouch with provisions, like food and water. In this sense, the stole reminds the priest not only of his authority and dignity as a priest, but also of his duty to preach the Word the God with courage and conviction (“Indeed, God's word is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword.” Hebrews 4:12) and to serve the needs of the faithful.
The former vesting prayer was “Restore unto me, O Lord, the Stole of immortality which I lost through the sin of my first parents and, although unworthy to approach Thy sacred Mystery, may I nevertheless attain to joy eternal”.
Finally, the chasuble is the outer garment worn over the alb and stole. Over the centuries, various styles of chasubles have emerged. Derived from the Latin word casula meaning “house”, the chasuble in the Graeco-Roman world was like a cape that completely covered the body and protected the person from inclement weather.
Spiritually, the chasuble reminds the priest of the charity of Christ: “Over all these virtues put on love, which binds the rest together and makes them perfect” (Colossians, 3:14).
The former vesting prayer was “O Lord, Who hast said, “My yoke is sweet and My burden light”, grant that I may so carry it as to merit Thy grace”.
In the Middle Ages, two popular interpretations of the meaning of the vestments evolved.
The most prevalent one interpreted the vestments as symbols of Jesus' Passion: the Alb is a reminder of Christ's vulnerability, stripped to his undergarments, as He was mocked and beaten; the Cincture represents the ropes and fetters which bound Him during the scourging; The Stole speaks of the cross He carried; and the Chasuble reminds us of the seamless garment for which the soldiers rolled dice.
Another popular interpretation is that although the vestments have Roman military origins they can also be viewed as symbols of the priest as the soldier of Christ, doing battle against sin and Satan.

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