On Friday 15th March 2019 in the Market Place Theatre, Armagh for the fourth year running,
Archbishop Richard Clarke and Archbishop Eamon Martin came together to share insights
on the life and witness of St Patrick.
The theme for this year was ‘St Patrick – a role model for youth’
Sarah Clarke from UTV was once again on hand to pose some questions to the 2 Archbishops,
once they had each given their presentations.
Archbishop Richard in his address to the sizeable audience, focused on 3 observations of Patrick:
1. His lack of concern with his own image. In the modern age when we can be so concerned about our own image perhaps on social media, Patrick was more concerned with how God viewed him and not what other people might have thought.
2. Patrick’s bravery and raw courage. Courage to stand for what is right. Courage when you are afraid but still prepared to do the right thing.
3. His willingness to stand up for the down-trodden and the defenceless - people who had no one else to stand up for them. Archbishop Richard also drew on the example of an Anglican cleric, Trevor Huddleston who opposed apartheid in South Africa which had a dramatic influence on Desmond Tutu when he was a boy and encouraged him too to become ordained.
Archbishop Eamon then spoke of how Patrick when he was first taken to Ireland as a slave at the young age of 16, must have been a powerful witness for Christ. This was illustrated in 2 examples. First when Patrick had the opportunity to escape and boarded a ship back to Britain crewed by pagan man, those very men cried out to Patrick in the midst of a violent storm ‘Christian pray for us!’ When the storm abated, the crew reacted with the words
‘Thanks be to God’
And secondly in the vision Patrick had when he was back home with his family, of Irish people requesting him to come back to Ireland with the words ‘Come back among us holy youth’
Archbishop Eamon spoke of being at a gathering of young people in Rome with the thoughts of how he could better connect with young people. The message he received from them was that the real evangelists of the youth are the youth themselves and his role is to facilitate this.