Bishop Donal McKeown, Bishop of Derry, and Bishop Ken Good, Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, will undertake a 30-mile joint walk from 27 to 29 April as part of a series of events to promote reconciliation in the community and highlight their shared Christian witness and heritage.
The walk will be completed in three parts: on 27 April, the bishops will walk from Saint Columba’s birthplace in Gartan to Conwall Church of Ireland Church in Letterkenny; on 28 April, from Saint Eunan’s Cathedral, Letterkenny to Saint Aengus’ Church, Burt; and finally on 29 April, from Saint Aengus’ Church to Saint Augustine’s Church in Derry, which is believed to be the site of a sixth-century monastery founded by Saint Columba. As they walk, the bishops will meet people and visit places along the route, and pray with parishioners in local churches.
In June, the two bishops will visit Iona, the small island where Saint Columba founded another monastery and where he eventually died. Later in the year, the bishops of Derry will join again for two further walks, one from Claudy to Strabane on Thursday 14 September and from Limavady to Garvagh on Saturday 16 September
In a joint statement, Bishop Good and Bishop McKeown said: ‘In undertaking this initiative and these pilgrimages, we are inspired by the example of our predecessors and building on our shared Christian identity. Saint Columba is one of the great figures in Christian history and someone of whom Christians in the North West can be proud.’
The saint’s last recorded words to his community on Iona – ‘Preserve with each other sincere charity and peace’ – are inscribed on the large cross marking his birthplace in Gartan, and have been chosen by the bishops as a guiding theme for their pilgrimages.
‘We are eager to heighten the profile of faith traditions in our dioceses and hope our shared witness to the Gospel will encourage reconciliation in our community,” the bishops said. “We want to raise awareness of the long ecclesiastical history of our community, its shared Columban narrative and rich Columban heritage.’
Photo credit: Diocese of Derry and Raphoe