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Religious Affairs Correspondent William Scholes

the passion walk
belfast easter 2015

An individual pilgrimage through the Easter story
Good Friday and Easter Saturday in central Belfast
For information and booking:, 07879 014344
Passion Walk Belfast


Passion to
the streets
of Belfast

MAKING its debut in Belfast tomorrow for
Good Friday and also on Saturday is an
intriguing sounding “urban pilgrimage”
for Easter.
Called the Passion Walk, it is described as
an “invitation to walk the path of Jesus’
Easter journey” but “in the streets of
“Walking a route across the centre of the
city with an audio guide, and pausing at
certain key locations, you are invited to
enter into the events of Jesus’ final hours,”
say the organisers.
“As was the case in Jesus’ day, the ongoing
life of a busy city becomes the backdrop
for the events of the story.
“The Passion Walk is an invitation to
experience the story in a new way, and
perhaps see the city in a new light.”
The walk starts at Grosvenor House in
Glengall Street, with the ‘pilgrimage’
winding its way towards The Dock Cafe in
the Titanic Quarter, where refreshments
and space for reflection and prayer will be
The Passion Walk idea started in
Edinburgh, with the ‘pilgrims’ describing
how relating the story of the first Easter
to their own city made the reality of the
Passion come alive.
Writer and journalist Susan Mansfield,
working with Duncan MacLaren and Jane
MacLaren, were behind that first walk in
They said that “it grew from our interest
in the role walking can play in our
spiritual lives, and our appreciation of
contemplative spirituality, particularly the
Ignatian tradition”.
Joy Gowdy, from Bangor, did the
Edinburgh walk in 2013 and thought it
was ideally suited to Belfast, and enlisted
the help of Susan Mansfield to make it a
Financial support has come from St Paul’s
and St George’s Church in Edinburgh,
The Epiphany Group and Contemporary
Christianity, Belfast.
There is more information at www. and anyone wanting to
take part is invited to register by emailing or telephoning
078 7901 4344. There is a charge of £5 to
cover the cost of the materials used in the
walk – chiefly a booklet with pointers for
reflection along the way – and it is a nonprofit project.
Walks leave Grosvenor House between
10am and 1pm on Good Friday and
Saturday April 4.

Why the Churches
need to talk about


N Northern Ireland the republican movement is beginning
to speak the language of reconciliation. Is it a real journey or
sophisticated game play? As with
anything, time will tell.
There was a time when reconciliation was too stark a word for
Not any more.
It could even become fashionable – quite the language to talk.
But what is it?
Is it lighting public buildings
with more colours than you can
shake a stick at? A diet of photo
opportunities announcing the
opening of this or funding of that?
Is it just nice speaking?
We live in a country deluged by
words, photo opportunities and
foreign delegations. We have had
a large share of the world’s attention and finance. Academics have
studied us to within an inch of our
lives and we can certainly speak
for ourselves. Yet we are stuck.
So much talk, so little progress.
I once asked a monk from overseas what he saw when he looked
at our country. His answer was
immediate: “What I see is a deeply
wounded community.”
The cost of violence and death
inflicted by one human being on
another is truly shocking.
Recently I was taken by surprise
listening to a neutral foreign visitor address a gathering. When
asked to reflect on the state of our
peace process his reply was more
blunt than the indulgent tone we
are used to: “One of the things you
have to come to terms with here
is guilt.”
If reconciliation had been a matter of money, position papers and
foreign interventions all would
have been sorted out long ago.
We are masters at avoiding the
difficult conversations, of constantly kicking hard issues down
the road. But what happens when
other people’s money and patience run out?
To be involved in reconciliation
means to take a journey towards
ownership of pain. It is to be willing to ‘own’ pain that we have suffered. It also is to ‘own’ that which
we have caused. Behind the bright
lights is where the difficult and
painful conversation takes place.
So what is to be the response
to the language of reconciliation
from the republican movement?
This is a moment when leadership is needed – both politically
and from the Church. Politically
the issue of reconciliation will always be a difficult one to lead in,
but our future depends on it.
The Church is a body with reconciliation at its very core – it
doesn’t have another. It needs
to start speaking it in a way that
makes sense and that gets heard.

The Churches need
to take a lead on
reconciliation, argues the
Rev Earl Storey

The response might begin by
asking two questions. To the leadership of the republican movement it is to ask: “What is it that
you mean when you use the word
The second is to ourselves. It is
precisely the same question.
Rwanda knows that reconciliation is the only way to end its con-

flict. These are no light words considering that in the 1994 genocide,
approximately one million people
were murdered in that country of
some eight million. It was literally
a case of neighbour against neighbour, even family member against
family member.
Some years ago I attended a
meeting addressed by the vice

If reconciliation had been a matter of
money, position papers and foreign
interventions all would have been
sorted out long ago. We are masters
at avoiding the difficult conversations.
But what happens when other people’s
money and patience run out?

n GESTURES: Above, Belfast City
Hall goes green for St Patrick’s
Day. The Rev Earl Storey asks if
reconciliation simply mean gestures
such as lighting public buildings in
symbolic colours?

president of the Rwandan National Commission for Unity and Reconciliation.
This man’s father had been murdered in ethnic violence. I asked
him how Rwanda had made such
a remarkable journey towards
reconciliation when compared to
our faltering steps in Northern
His answer was simple.
“Rwanda is one of the poorest
countries in the world,” he said.
“If we do not find a way of living
together we will not survive. We
literally cannot afford to do other
than to be reconciled.”
Neither can we.
n The Rev Earl Storey works
with Protestantism: A Journey in
Self-Belief, a project of the Centre for Studies in Irish Protestantism at Maynooth University.
This article appeared in the
Church of Ireland Gazette on
March 24 2015