We held a cross-community, cross-border commemoration of the 90th anniversary of the end of the battle of the Somme on Sunday – the participants included a deputy grand master of the Orange Order and a local Catholic priest, as well as members of associations committed to keeping alive the history of our past.
It was a good experience.
Emails came in yesterday.
“It struck the right balance in dealing with a very complex issue. I was touched by the way the parish can keep alive the a personal link with those who were killed, in a way in which the big commemorations cannot. Above all, those who served and died were people like the rest of us and remembering them can help to make us more understanding of the supposed differences that we have created on our small island”.
Royal Dublin Fusiliers Association
“Many thanks for inviting us to your Commemoration Ceremony in Ballybrack. It was a wonderful service and a historic occasion in itself. The range of participants made it unique. I hope we can make some sort of record of it to publish with our Ceremony at Thiepval on 1st July and can continue our liaison through the Somme Association”
“Many thanks for inviting me and the members of the Dublin and Wicklow Lodge to take part in this service. Services like this are important part of our shared traditions.”
Not a single word of encouragement came from our diocesan authorities, nor did anyone from the diocese choose to join us; which is their problem, but which shows that commitment to risk-taking and engagement with people with whom you disagree is no more than lip service for many members of the Church of Ireland. Ecumenism is often a dialogue with Catholics whom we like; it rarely runs to seriously trying to talk to Northern Protestants or to attempt to understand their culture or their beliefs.
The way of reconciliation is the way of the Cross, which will bring with it pain and failure and rejection, but is the only way of following Jesus.