St Patrick came to know God during his years as a shepherd on the Irish hills, later to return and forgive those who enslaved him. Patrick wrote many letters denouncing slavery, and promoting peace among warring clans.
Today, the Anglican Archbishop of Armagh is called the Primate of All Ireland (cool, no?). The cathedral in Armagh is built on the stones of a church laid in 445 by St Patrick himself. Rev Dr Robin Eames held the seat in St Patrick’s Cathedral
during The Troubles in the 80s & 90s when every priest on either side of the border and conflict was burying innocent people, along with some not-so-innocents.
One day, Eames encountered a house fire surrounded by an angry mob with a Roman Catholic girl trapped. Due to his position, he was able to carry her through the loyalist crowd to safety. Many years later, he was hospitalized. One of the nurses said, “Do you remember me? You saved my life. Thank you.” Due to her position, she was able to carry him back to health.
Eames’ tenure saw a great deal of controversy, but he was adamant about one thing: no victory flags.
Parades, protests, and rallies only sow further division. As recently as 2006, when 3 boys were burned in their beds, he responded: “In the name of God, please leave the hill at Drumcree. You’ve made your points.”
Studying that period, particularly areas where true social change was achieved in a period of unrest, I have taken this to heart:
the way to peacefully resolve conflict is through prayer, relationship, and diligent research. Heated dialogue, years of study, sure. But be aggressive about uncovering Truth, not defeating people.
This is how we pass along the torch of our noble Irish and Christian heritage: by celebrating those who uphold the dignity of the human person, and strive for integrity in the life of faith.