St Patrick’s Day pilgrimage goes ahead

St Patrick’s Day pilgrimage goes ahead

18 March 2020

THE annual St Patrick’s Day pilgrimage from Saul to Down Cathedral took place as usual yesterday, but with much reduced numbers.

Just over 30 people took part in the pilgrimage, which was led by the Church of Ireland Bishop of Down and Dromore, the Right Rev David McClay.

Diocesan evangelist Glynnis Matchett, from Willowfield Parish Church in Belfast, was invited by Bishop McClay to join him at the head of the pilgrimage.

She said it felt special to follow in the footsteps of St Patrick and that the “roots run deep for Christians”. 

She continued: “The symbolism of the route for me is the great links we have with St Patrick and the past, but 

also with our present and our future. 

“It’s not just about the geography of the land but in the walking out in faith in our land. It makes me more connected to the gospel preached by St Patrick and the message he spread. 

“It’s lovely to have this association with the saint. His teachings are still as relevant today as they were in the fifth century.” 

She added: “I’m delighted the rain stayed off for the majority of the event. We were blessed. I would love to be able to return again next year for the event. 

Bangor man Matthew Tennis, said it was a privilege for him to take part in the walk. 

He said: “We owe St Patrick a great deal. He brought Christianity to Ireland and it is the right thing to do today to follow in his footsteps in his honour. 

“The perception is that St Patrick is just for one denomination and not the other.”

Helen Stead, from St Mark’s Parish Church, Dundela said: “It’s a great feeling to be part of the Diocesan family and to stand together in prayer. 

Doug Smith, from Youth Initiatives in Belfast, has been coming to the event for several years since his arrival from Ohio. 

He said: “Youth Initiatives is about awakening hope in young people with our programme of events. It’s great to see young people join in with this commemoration.”

Taryn Hull, from Kilrea, was taking part in her first pilgrimage walk. She said: “I have always been intrigued by St Patrick and by this walk.

“It is very special for me to be able to follow in his footsteps for the first time. It brings new meaning to the message he was imparting.”

Kay Fairbrother, from Maghaberry, said: “I drive up every year. It is a very special event and we meet great people on the walk. 

“We share so much in common. We all see the need to pray together now more than ever. Instead of panicking about buying paracetamol we should be praying that we won’t be needing them.”

The pilgrimage followed a service of Holy Communion in Saul Parish Church at which the preacher was the Ven Roderic West, Archdeacon of Dromore.

Archdeacon West took part in the pilgrimage along with the Dean of Down, the Very Rev Henry Hull, and Mr 

Terry Andrews, vice-chairman of Newry, Mourne and Down Council.

The preacher at the cross-community service in Down Cathedral was the Right Rev Andrew Foster, Bishop of Derry and Raphoe. Also present were representatives from other donations, including Fr John Murray, Parish Priest of Downpatrick.

After the service a wreath was laid on St Patrick’s grave.