FAREWELL: The Very Rev Donald Kirk, Dean of the Christ Church Cathedral, is leaving the Grafton Diocese.
FAREWELL: The Very Rev Donald Kirk, Dean of the Christ Church Cathedral, is leaving the Grafton Diocese. Adam Hourigan

Fr Donald says goodbye to Grafton

SUNDAY, the Grafton Anglican congregation will have its chance to farewell the Dean of Christ Church Cathedral, the Very Reverend Donald Kirk.

Fr Donald will hold his final service before he departs for Victoria, where he will be rector of the Parish of Hamilton and archdeacon of the South West of the Diocese of Ballarat.

There have been some tumultuous times for the local Anglican Church in the nine years since Fr Donald arrived in 2008 with wife Cameron and their children Caitlin and Lachlan.

In that time the diocese has been involved in the Royal Commission into Institutionalised Responses to Child Sexual Abuse over its handling of claims of abuse at the North Coast Children's Home in Lismore between 1940 and the 1980s.

The audit of the diocesan response to the allegations led to the resignation of Bishop Keith Slater in 2013, an event FrDonald described as a "very stressful period”.

"I wasn't involved directly in it, but felt obliged to offer support to other clergy in the diocese,” he said.

"My role was looking after the cathedral, so it meant I wasn't directly involved in any of those issues.”

The arson attack on the Anglican Op Shop and the bookstore that shared the building in June 2015 was another trying time.

Fr Donald was awakened in the middle of the night to find firefighters plying the shop with water.

The damage forced the Op Shop and bookstore into alternative premises for a year.

Fr Donald said funerals were an important part of the cathedral's role and he could remember some important ones in his time at Grafton.

"The funeral for Jeremy and Sue Challacombe was a very moving experience,” he said.

"They were both important figures in the community and the church.”

The funeral of champion lifesaver Jacob Lollback, who died in a tragic diving accident just short of his 21st birthday, was another he recalled.

"The congregation for Jacob was massive and it showed what the community thought of him,” Fr Donald said.

But Fr Donald has also been involved in many of the church's happier times, arriving just in time for the 125th anniversary of the building of the cathedral.

Two significant figures from the cathedral's past, Father St John Edwards who was the third Dean of Grafton, and the Right Reverend Richard Hurford who was the fifth Dean of Grafton and is now the Bishop of Bathurst, returned for the joyful occasion.

Fr Donald said he was looking forward to the challenges in Victoria.

"It's not going to be easy to leave,” he said. "It's been the place where our family has grown up.

"It's going to be busier, but it is a different kind of role to here. As arch deacon I will have the responsibility of being a mentor to the other clergy in the diocese.”



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