The former Rector of the ‘Wee Church on the Walls’ joked that she wasn’t sure if the Monsignor who invited her to speak at the annual 1916 commemoration at Arbour Hill on Wednesday was “shaking in his boots having asked a female, Northern Protestant to speak at a Catholic, Republican commemoration.”
But on aserious note the Church of Ireland Bishop of Meath and Kildare, Pat Storey told members of the Irish political establishment, including the President Michael D. Higgins and the Taoiseach Enda Kenny that whilst 1916 wasn’t her story it was important that in this decade of centenaries we all listen and learn from one another.
“I will be honest - it is difficult for me to imagine what it is like to be a relative of someone who died in the Easter Rising,” she told those in attendance at the Annual 1916 Commemoration Ceremony at the Church of the Most Sacred Heart in Arbour Hill, Dublin.
“It 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. Could we, together, commit to walking in each other’s shoes for a time?” she asked.
“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,” she added.
The first female Bishop in either Ireland or Britain said no-one wants to return to the violence and death of the past.
“Like many of you, I am old enough to remember waking up every morning, particularly through the seventies, to death,” she said.
“Every morning. I do not believe that there is anyone who wants to go back to that. We reeked of death. I passionately believe that this is a time for resurrection. In the original Easter Rising of our faith, Jesus showed us a different way – one of hope and healing. Yes, there was death, and it is to be mourned and remembered, but death is not the end of our story. The resurrection of Jesus Christ gives power to His followers to be resurrection people. Death does not have the final word. We are dealers in hope,” she said.
She quoted US President Barack Obama: “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time” and asked the congregation: “Are you willing to be the change that Ireland is waiting for?”