The first woman Bishop in Britain and Ireland and a former Rector of St Augustine’s in Londonderry, Pat Storey, has addressed the Annual 1916 Commemoration Ceremony at the Church of the Most Sacred Heart in Arbour Hill, Dublin, this morning.
The Church of Ireland Bishop of Meath and Kildare 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”. In remembering lives lost she spoke of commemoration being a time for three things in Ireland.
She talked of how reflecting on our history was a time for mending our 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: “1916 is 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 continued: “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, in 1916 as well as more recently, the Bishop said commemoration was also a time for shaping the future, saying: “I believe that this era in our country’s history is a time no longer for death, but for resurrection”.
Bishop Storey concluded her address by quoting President 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?”