On Sunday 27th June a Diocesan Service, with civic and ecumenical participation, was held in Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral, Cork to mark the upcoming centenary of the truce: the end of the War of Independence in Ireland. The Service, which was held as part of the continuing Cork, Cloyne and Ross Centenaries Commemoration and Reconciliation Project was limited, due to pandemic restrictions, to an attendance of 50 people led by the Lord Mayor of Cork, Councillor Colm Kelleher and the Mayor of Cork County, Councillor Gillian Coughlan. Also present were members of the Oireachtas, the Defence Forces, An Garda Síochána, and representatives of civic, commercial, and voluntary groups in Cork.
Opening the Service, Bishop Paul Colton quoted his predecessor, Bishop Charles Dowse (Bishop of Cork from 1912 to 1933) who in his address to the Cork, Cloyne and Ross Diocesan Synod over a year on, in October 1922 said:
The future holds days of great opportunity for those who refuse to be cast down.Bishop Charles Dowse, 1922
Bishop Colton added:
Friends! We are that future. One hundred years on, we are that future.Bishop Paul Colton, 2021
Setting the Service firmly in the context of the challenge of the way of Jesus Christ and of the scriptures, Bishop Colton, continued:
The end of every war, the cessation of violence, a truce, is worthy of commemoration. In spite of the witness, contradictions and complexities of human history, the Christian view throughout is that justice, righteousness, reconciliation and peace tend towards what St Paul called – the more excellent way – the way of love: the love which Jesus Christ referred to as the greatest of commandments. And which is entrusted to us as ‘the ministry of reconciliation’.
Whatever churches and Christians have to say about commemorations such as these in this Decade of Centenaries it has to be rooted in this witness, challenging and uncomfortable as that may be.
The liturgy was that prepared for occasions such as this by the Liturgical Advisory Committee at the request of the Historical Centenaries Working Group.
The Dean of Cork, the Very Reverend Nigel Dunne, who is himself a member of the Liturgical Advisory Committee, led the Service in which, along with representatives of Cork, Cloyne and Ross, there was significant ecumenical participation by the Most Reverend Dr Fintan Gavin, Bishop of Cork and Ross, the Reverend Andrew Robinson, Cork Methodist Church, Mr Stephen Murray, Cork Presbyterian Church, Denise Gabuzda, Society of Friends, and the Reverend Mike O’Sullivan, Cork Unitarian Church.
A votive candle stand, commissioned from a manufacturer of church supplies in Sweden, shaped like a globe, was a centre piece for the two key points in the Service: first, remembrance when the Lord Mayor of Cork and the Mayor of Cork County lit the central candle during the singing of ‘Hear my prayer’ (Mendelssohn) followed by a time of extended silence. The second key moment was the prayers and thanksgivings, during which the remaining candles surrounding the globe were lit, following which the soloist, Saoirse Daly, accompanied by organist Robbie Carroll, sang Ich folge dir gleichfalls from the St John Passion by J.S. Bach: ‘I follow you likewise with joyful steps, and do not leave you, my life and my light.’
If you wish to view the Service you can do so on the Diocesan YouTube Channel: HERE