Bishop Donal McKeown and Bishop Ken Good have completed the third in a series of joint ‘Walks of Witness’ by walking in pouring rain from Christ Church, Church of Ireland, in Limavady to Saint Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church in Glenullin.
In undertaking their initiative this year, the church leaders hoped to raise awareness of the things that unite Christians rather than divide them. “We want to raise awareness of the long ecclesiastical history of our community,” they said, “its shared Columban narrative and rich Christian heritage”.
Saturday’s 16 mile journey was the last of three pilgrimages the bishops made together during 2017. Last April, they completed a 34-mile walk from Saint Columba’s birthplace in Gartan in Donegal to St Augustine’s Church in Derry-Londonderry. And two days before the Limavady to Garvagh hike, they walked from Claudy to Strabane – a distance of 15 miles. In June, the bishops also led a group of parishioners on a visit to the island of Iona where Saint Columba settled, founded a monastery and eventually died in the sixth century.
Their final walk began with prayers at Christ Church, Limavady, where Rev Canon Sam McVeigh and Fr James Devine led a short service. The two church leaders then walked the few hundred yards to Christ the King Roman Catholic Church, where they again prayed together before resuming their walk. In each church they visited during their diocesan walks, the bishops expressed the hope that their joint presence would encourage others who were working to bring the community together.
The weather for Saturday’s walk was far less kind than had been the case two days earlier for the Claudy-Strabane leg. It started raining on the outskirts of Limavady and didn’t let up until the leaders left Saint Joseph’s in Glenullin around seven hours later. Despite the conditions the bishops completed the walk on schedule.
Bishop McKeown reminded parishioners who welcomed them to the Parish of Errigal in Ballerin that Saturday was the Feast of Saints Cornelius and Cyprian - two bishops who were murdered. Around 80 parishioners from Garvagh, Ballerin and Glenullin joined the bishops for lunch and a service at St Paul's Church of Ireland in Garvagh, and around 20 completed the last leg of the last walk with them.
At St Joseph's, Glenullin, the Bishops thanked Fr Brendan Crowley and Canon Paul Whittaker, for their ministry to their parishes (as they had thanked Canon McVeigh and Fr Devine in Limavady earlier). Bishop Good said he was grateful that neither he nor Bishop McKeown had been martyred on their pilgrimage and thankful that none of those who had accompanied them on Saturday had been injured during their walk together.