The former Church of Ireland Minister at St Augustine’s Church in Derry has addressed a Catholic, Republican commemoration beside the graves of the 1916 leaders in Dublin today.
Addressing An Taoiseach Enda Kenny and a host of other dignitaries, Church of Ireland Bishop of Meath and Kildare Pat Storey spoke of the importance of how the coming decade of historic commemorations is handled because “history is not simply what happened, but the way what happened is remembered”.
Bishop Pat Storey was speaking at the Church of the Most Sacred Heart in Arbour Hill, Dublin this morning at a ceremony hosted by the Minister for Defence Simon Coveney T.D., and consisting of Requiem Mass and ceremonies at the Grave for the 1916 Leaders.
The cemetery at prison church is the burial place of 14 of the executed leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising, including Patrick Pearse, James Connolly and John MacBride.
In her address she commended the “courageous and generous decision” to invite “a female, Northern Protestant to speak at a Catholic, Republican commemoration”.
Bishop Storey spoke of this time of commemorations being an opportunity for “not only remembering the past but creating and shaping the future”.
I need to walk in your shoes generously. That means listening when I would rather speak; hearing your story when I would rather tell mine; relating to the commemorations of your community when I would rather remember wrongs done to mine.CoI Bishop Pat Storey
In remembering lives lost she spoke of commemoration being a time for three things in Ireland, including mending broken and wounded relationships.
She said, “If Ireland is about anything, it is about relationships … yet how often we have specialised in welcoming the tourist and the outsider, and deeply wounded one another”.
She also said it was a time for generosity, saying that 1916 was “not a part of my story. But I want, and I need, to try to understand it”.
“I need to walk in your shoes generously. That means listening when I would rather speak; hearing your story when I would rather tell mine; relating to the commemorations of your community when I would rather remember wrongs done to mine”.
She added: “Could we, together, commit to walking in each other’s shoes for a time? Could we vow to be generous when we commemorate?
“It would take personal sacrifice, especially when you have endured personal loss, but perhaps this is the time to mend, and the time for generosity”.
Reflecting on the many lives lost in Ireland, back in 1916 as well as more recently, the Bishop said commemoration was also a time for shaping the future.
Bishop Storey concluded her address by quoting US President Barack Obama’s words: “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek” before some final words of her own “Are you willing to be the change that Ireland is waiting for?”