ISE – Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: 18 – 25 January 2014

During the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Dr Geraldine Smyth preached at the Church of the Carmelite Sisters Community in Kilmacud, Dublin, 19 Jan. Week of PrayerThe Carmelite Community hosted a service of Vespers for each of the eight days. Other preachers included Rev. Ian Gallagher, St Brigid’s Church of Ireland, Stillorgan; Rev Canon Warren, Taney Parish, Church of Ireland Dundrum; Rev. Tim Coote, Mt Merrion and Kilmacud Parishes; Rev. Jameson Kunjukunju, Mar Thoma Syrian Church, and some of the Carmelite sisters themselves. Truly an ecumenical feast. Geraldine preached again at Church of Ireland Dalkey, Friday 24 Jan 2014, where the service was beautifully enhanced by the combined choirs of St Patrick’s Church of Ireland and the Roman Catholic Church of the Assumption. There was an energy and evidence of lively commitment to making real the gift of communion and the persevering search to make that unity more vibrant and visible in faith, life and witness.

Dr Geraldine Smyth and Eileen Gallagher – ISE/Churches’ Fora in Northern Ireland and the Border Counties – participated in a meeting of the Churches’ Initiative Group with the leaders of the four larger churches: Dr Rev. Dr. Lesley Carroll – a twice graduate of ISE – chaired the meeting which took place at Edgehill College of the Methodist Church in Ireland, in Belfast. Their subject was a shared subject was to explore how the churches might give an appropriate and clear leadership in dealing with a divided past and to show possibilities toward clarifying the kind of shared future that is possible, where differences do not become a basis for division and violence.

Barnie Rowan the well-known security correspondent who was close to the engine room of the Haas-O’Sullivan meetings with the political parties before Christmas, and Kate Turner, Director of Healing through Remembering – an organisation which has done much through fora of dialogue and research – shared their analysis of the failure to achieve agreement, and their belief that the churches at leadership and community level have a role to play in recovery of momentum by exercising their influence in trust-building, convening safe opportunities for people to come together to reflect on wider and deeper meanings of truth, reconciliation justice and responsibility than the narrower versions on offer, and to act in partnership with other civic bodies in providing symbolic and prophetic actions of hope and transformation.