After three days and 34 miles of walking, Bishop Ken Good and Bishop Donal McKeown arrived safely at St Augustine's Church in Derry-Londonderry on Saturday, completing their joint pilgrimage from Gartan in Donegal.
The third and final stage of their journey had begun in Burt earlier that morning at a short, interdenominational service in St Aengus' Church. The service included a reading by Fr Fintan Diggin which contained the words: "Use us to make you visible and known to others in countless ways, so that your great love for us might be reflected in our love for one another."
With their ‘hi-vis’ vests and specially-printed teeshirts, the two church leaders had been highly visible throughout their pilgrimage. They walked along the main road, first from St Columba’s birthplace in Gartan to Letterkenny (‘From Cross to Cross’), then from Letterkenny to Burt (‘From Church to Church’), and lastly from Burt to Derry-Londonderry (‘From Country to Town’).
The bishops said they had undertaken their pilgrimage to promote reconciliation and highlight their shared Columban heritage. Interdenominational services were held at various churches along the route, including St Columb’s Church of Ireland in Churchhill; St Eunan’s Roman Catholic Cathedral in Letterkenny; All Saints’ Church of Ireland in Newtowncunningham; St Aengus’ Roman Catholic Church in Burt; and St Augustine’s Church of Ireland on Derry’s walls.
At some of the services, the bishops referred to Sunday’s Gospel reading (Luke 24: 13-35), in which two disciples walk along the road to Emmaus. Our Lord accompanied them, although they did not recognise him. Both men said they had looked forward to seeing how the Lord would use their journey.
Among those who joined them at St St Augustine's Parish Hall, was the Clerk of the Derry and Donegal Presbytery, Rev Dr Robert Buick. Shortly after arriving at 'the Wee Church on the Walls' – where they enjoyed a lunch prepared by the ladies of St Augustine's – the bishops visited St Columba's Church, Long Tower.
Bishop McKeown and Bishop Good will explore their common Columban heritage again in June, when they visit the Scottish island of Iona, where the saint founded a monastery. And in the autumn they will take part in two joint walks from Limavady to Garvagh and from Claudy to Strabane (via Donemana).