Joint Christmas Message from the Bishops of Clogher 2005

14 Dec 2005


14 DECEMBER 2005


Macartan, patron saint of Clogher, is our invitation this Christmas to celebrate
our common inheritance and to look to the future together. We receive from the
past in order to give to the future. The coming year, 2006, marks the fifteen
hundredth anniversary of Macartan – an occasion to recalls his links with Patrick
and the coming of the Christian faith to our diocese, an occasion also to combine
thanksgiving for the past with hopefilled expectation for the future.

The Macartan story is but a local expression of the greater story of Christmas. And
the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem – of God in human form – challenges us to reflect
on God’s love and salvation. The Christmas story comes out of a rich tradition of
experience and expectation: the experience of people who have known God and their
expectation of something exciting about to unfold in the world.

At Christmas we also celebrate the origin of our Christian faith. In an era where
there are hopes of more sustained peace, we need to explore together opportunities
for a shared future. The inclusion of diverse ethnic groups in our society demands
that we acknowledge and respect a wide variety of different faiths. This new scene
tests the confidence and generosity of the various strands of our Christian tradition.
It means that we are now asked to live and move beyond the boundaries of where our
own tradition has taken us.

One of the abiding images which many of us have of Patrick and Macartan is the way
in which Macartan helps his master by carrying him across the River Blackwater.
Macartan does this once too often. Patrick notices that the effort has taken more
out of his friend physically than he anticipated and he reacts to the signs of strain
and stress. He concludes that his friend needs a change from their itinerant way of
life. He sees also that Macartan has potential for a different type of work and with
this in mind he gives him the task of creating a new faith community at Clogher.

It is a fresh beginning and a new birth. Macartan’s foundation in Clogher grew in
time into the diocese we still have to this day. His instinct to carry the weight
of another was matched by that of Patrick who offered Macartan a new way of serving
God and neighbour. That common inheritance of ours is to be treasured, honoured
and enjoyed.

Let us remember this tradition as together with one another we celebrate Christmas
and greet the New Year.

+Michael Jackson
Church of Ireland Bishop of Clogher

+Joseph Duffy
Catholic Bishop of Clogher

Further information:

Martin Long Director of Communications (086 172 7678)
Brenda Drumm Communications Officer (087 233 7797)