Belfast Telegraph

Bishops join forces to give public talk on life and times of St Patrick

Talk: Rt Reverend John McDowell
Talk: Rt Reverend John McDowell
Alf McCreary

By Alf McCreary

A Protestant and a Catholic Bishop will join a leading Orangeman in Enniskillen to find out what they have in common with St Patrick.

The public meeting, titled 'St Patrick - an inspiration for all?' is being organised by the Co Fermanagh Grand Lodge and local Church leaders.

It will take place in the Killyhevlin Hotel in Enniskillen on October 29 at 7.30pm.

The Church of Ireland Bishop of Clogher, the Rt Reverend John McDowell, will talk about St Patrick's faith, his captivity and his mission to Ireland.

He said: "Most of us have a picture of St Patrick in our head, and it would be nearly impossible not to have a picture of the Saint, given the tens of thousands of pictures and statues of Patrick which abound in every corner of Ireland.

"By and large he is like what each one of us wants him to be. In reality - or in history which is not quite the same thing - he is much more difficult to pin down.

"Lots has been written about him but not much by him, and he needs to be allowed to speak for himself."

The retired Catholic Bishop of Clogher, Bishop Joseph Duffy, will also speak at the meeting on the theme 'Understanding the Ireland Patrick lived in'.

Bishop Duffy is a respected scholar of early Irish history, and he is also the translator of St Patrick's famous Confession, written in rudimentary Latin shortly before his death in the fifth century.

This gives a basic account of his life, and the only other existing work about Ireland's patron saint is his furious Letter to Coroticus, a Welsh warlord whose troops had murdered or taken into captivity a number of his converts.

The Enniskillen meeting is part of a series of events organised by the Co Fermanagh County Grand Lodge and local churches. Paul Stevenson, the Grand Master of the Fermanagh Grand Lodge, said: "St Patrick lived 1,600 years ago and he is still celebrated today, with each of us having our own perspective on him.

"We hope that our public meeting later this month will benefit every member of our community, as we discuss and reflect on this major figure in the history of Christianity in Ireland."

In a Stormont debate in 2002 on a call to make St Patrick's Day a national holiday, the late Reverend Ian Paisley said: "He is a figure to be honoured and remembered. He brought to us the Bible Gospel, and in his own words and writings we find the simple Gospel of Jesus Christ."

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