26 June 2011
Derry’s four Church leaders mark opening and blessing of the new Peace Bridge
Please see below yesterday’s joint statement by the four Church leaders in Derry City to mark the opening and blessing of the new Peace Bridge: Most Rev Dr Seamus Hegarty, Bishop of Derry, Rev Dr Robert Buick, Moderator of Derry and Donegal Presbytery, Rt Rev Ken Good, Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Rev Peter Murray, Superintendent, Methodist Church.
We gather on the banks of the river Foyle this morning with a sense of hope for the future of this city and our country. We do so because we believe that “With God all things are possible”.
This city dates back to the days of St. Columba. Early monastic settlements were built in safe places and this city began its life as an island settlement and a safe place. As the centuries unfolded this place that we call home has witnessed events both of great historical and deeply personal significance. At moments in our history people have faced seemingly insurmountable issues in the face of which it is hard to imagine what any single human being could have done that would make a difference. As church leaders we believe, as people before us have, that great challenges can be overcome because “with God all things are possible”. Today we declare that hope and peace will triumph in our city.
This river is the reason people came and settled here and created a city. From the time of St Columba the river has been central to the story and history of this place. It has witnessed great historical events such as the Siege, people leaving from the Quayside in sadness to journey with hope into the unknown, to playing a significant role in the World Wars. It has welcomed visitors from afar as well as being a place of commerce and trade. This river is central to the complex tapestry that is the story of our home. With sorrow we also acknowledge, that in recent history, it has also been a symbol of division within our community.
In scripture a river is often a symbol of something that brings life, joy and hope. Believing that the best way to predict the future is to create it and that “with God all things are possible” together we are writing a new chapter in the life of this city and this river.
For the past number of years innumerable men and women of different faiths, political views and none have worked hard, mostly in a quiet way, to break down the old walls and barriers of hatred and mistrust. This weekend we take another significant step in our journey toward one another. We continue to discover that when we reach out the hand of friendship across the divide that the hope we give returns to us undiminished and enlarged.
Speaking to South African students in Cape Town in 1966, Robert Kennedy said this; “Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centres of energy and daring, those ripples build up a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance”
Today we celebrate the opening and blessing of this new Peace Bridge we celebrate the gracing of our city with something that is not only beautiful but is also powerfully symbolic. This bridge is a symbol of our reaching out to one another and to creating a place where neighbours rediscover one another and we again live in peace.
Our coming together is part of a greater movement that has helped to sweep away the old fears and divisions that have blighted our city and country for far too long. As church leaders we believe that the story of this river and city will once again be one of life, hope and joy.
Fr Michael Canny, Derry: 048 71262894
Catholic Communications Office Maynooth: Martin Long 00353 (0) 86 172 7678