My dear friends,
What I believe I may look back on, as one of the highlights of my entire ministry, was the visit that a group of us paid in late June to the Somme and to other sites associated with the First World War. This was however no ordinary visit, but a real pilgrimage. Archbishop Eamon Martin and I (with a number of clergy) led a group of young people - representing our different Christian traditions and also different parts of the island - to iconic sites of World War I with the hope and prayer that we might all not only see the past with new eyes, but might also envision a future that would be enhanced and strengthened by God in the pursuit of real peace.
It was an unforgettable and humbling experience for us all. Not only did the group meld together wonderfully well, but we all, I believe, came to recognise that the past is not simple but complex, that there was tragedy and heartbreak in that past but also courage and commitment, and also that although those thousands of young men who died in battle (many of them at the same age as those on our pilgrimage) are now very much “part of us”, we are called to build from that hallowed past into the future. And, amidst all the uncertainties that now surround us - politically, socially, and economically - since the referendum vote, we must always place good and wholesome relationships at the forefront of our prayers and aspirations.
In the autumn, I hope to continue with the “Archbishop’s Roadshows” project I initiated when I came to Armagh. This year I want us to think together about what it means to be a Christian disciple in a secularised and secularising world. There will be two weekly “sets of evenings” at the venues that have become familiar by now. On Tuesdays 8th and 15th November the venue will be Mullabrack Parish Centre, on Wednesdays 9th and 16th November Killyman Parish Centre and on Thursdays 10th and 17th November Derryloran Parish Centre in Cookstown. Each of the evenings will begin at 8.00pm. I look forward to meeting many of you there once again.
May I now wish all of you very blessing for a safe and happy summer.