St Patrick’s Church Attack Condemned.
4 Corners Press Release.
Just days before the start of this year’s 4 Corners festival we are dismayed to hear of the arson attack on St Patrick’s Church. The Festival seeks to inspire people from across Belfast to transform the city for the peace and prosperity of all. As a society seeking a way out of our sectarian past it is vital that we condemn in the strongest terms such attacks whether on Catholic Churches, Protestant Churches, Jewish synagogues or indeed Orange Halls. We must declare that this is not being done in our name.
St Patrick’s is also closely involved in the origins of 4 Corners Festival. In the first four years of the Festival we have held events in St. Patrick’s twice. Last year we used it for “Captured By a Vision,” when Rev Dr Ken Newell came to read from his memoir of that name. On this occasion, we chose the venue carefully. In his book Ken speaks of being sectarian in his early life and that it was during an Orange Lodge march that stopped outside St Patrick’s that was one of the moments that started to change his mind. He glanced into the Church as he walked past and saw Catholics in prayer. It sparked thoughts within his soul.
Festival Co-Founder Rev Steve Stockman also has personal connections to St Patrick’s.
“It is the first Catholic Church that I ever took part in a service in. In 1998 at the Jesus In the City Conference I was involved in the closing act of worship and asked if I would pray. I decided that I would write a prayer for the entire city. I therefore imagined standing at City Hall and looking out… north, south, east and west. I was uneasy praying in a Catholic Church that evening, but actually it was a helpful event in shifting my heart, that was hardened by peer pressure to never pray or read or preach in Catholic Churches. That evening in St. Patrick’s was a significant moment in my journey of faith.”
The Prayer for Belfast also eventually inspired the 4 Corners Festival
As Steve remembers
“When Fr Martin Magill asked me to pray at the “In Joyful Hope” service in his then Church St Oliver Plunkett’s in Lenadoon I pulled it out. The prayer was very well received and just a short time later when Fr Martin and I came up with the idea of a festival to get people across their corners of Belfast, Martin suggested that we called it after the prayer. So, the 4 Corners Festival was born.”
During this year’s festival, we will be doing events across denominations, seeking that many will cross new Church thresholds for the first time and have their own prejudices provoked! Surely, the future and well-being of the city, that Jeremiah calls us to pray for, will be improved by events like the 4 Corners Festival rather than futile attack that happened last night.