Belfast Telegraph

Catholic Primate to preach at Armistice service for first time

Archbishop Eamon Martin
Archbishop Eamon Martin
Poet Michael Longley
Dean Stephen Forde
Alf McCreary

By Alf McCreary

The leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland is to preach at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast on Sunday to commemorate the centenary of the First World War Armistice.

It is the first time a Catholic Primate will have spoken at such an event at the Church of Ireland cathedral.

Archbishop Dr Eamon Martin will be joined by Church of Ireland Primate Dr Richard Clarke, Presbyterian Moderator Dr Charles McMullen and Methodist President Rev Bill Davison.

The televised service will be led by Dean of Belfast Stephen Forde.

It's understood the order of service will contain a message from Tanaiste Simon Coveney, who will refer to the greater sensitivity now shown in Ireland to the once-divisive issue of the Great War.

Belfast-born poet Michael Longley will read his acclaimed work Ceasefire.

Attendance is by invitation only, and the service will be broadcast live on BBC One Northern Ireland and Radio Ulster.

It will follow the traditional Evensong format, led by the choir of St Anne's and members of the Ulster Orchestra. The service will provide a moment of reflection rather than an Act of Remembrance, and instead of laying wreaths, volumes of Ireland's Memorial Records will be laid at a field altar.

The service is due to end at around 4.45pm, when a lantern will be carried out from the cathedral in commemoration of the fallen.

It will be the last major commemoration of the First World War.

It will take place at the same time as services in Dublin, Glasgow and Cardiff.

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, chairman of the Northern Ireland World War One Centenary Committee, which planned the service with St Anne's, said yesterday: "Ulstermen and Irishmen have been remembered in all the places they fell.

"There have been special moments that not long ago would have been unthinkable, such as royal princes and dukes paying respect to Ireland's dead, and Irish Defence Forces pipers playing at Belfast City Cenotaph.

"Far from being purely symbolic, a deeper understanding, tolerance and respect has flowed from these events. Relationships have been built that have already proven their worth, and will last.

"No one's unionism or nationalism is diminished as a result."

Dean Forde said: "When the Armistice was signed it is said that not a single family in these islands was untouched by personal grief, expressed in the silence of mourning, and the silence of the soldiers who would not speak of the horrors they had endured. In this unique and special service, we will both remember the loss, but also lay hold of the hope which those who suffered and died in the Great War held.

Our greatest tribute 100 years later will be to succeed in that ambition for peace.

"There could be no greater way by which we can declare: 'We will remember them'."

Belfast Telegraph


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