Primarily pastoral in nature, to encourage the church on the ground and to hear of the work of congregations in their local communities, the tour began on Sunday morning when Dr Kirkpatrick preached in Arklow Presbyterian Church. As the week has unfolded he has visited St Andrews College, Blackrock, and Howth Road National School, which both have close Presbyterian connections.
Social Care has also featured as the Moderator spent time with staff and residents of Tritonville, a complex of sheltered accommodation for older people in Sandymount, Dublin, run in partnership with PCI’s Council for Social Witness. During the week Dr Kirkpatrick also saw the work of the Peacehaven Trust, a group of three homes in Greystones, County Wicklow, for adults with intellectual disabilities. His last engagement will see him in Maynooth, where he will turn the first sod for the new church building this coming Sunday.
Dr Kirkpatrick was accompanied on his visit to Dáil Éireann by Rev William Hayes, minister of Tullamore Presbyterian and Convener of PCI’s Republic of Ireland Panel that assesses aspects of government policy and Oireachtas legislation, along with Karen Jardine, PCI’s Public Affairs Officer, and Stuart Ferguson, Clerk of the Presbytery of Dublin and Munster.
“As Presbyterians it has always been important for us to play our part, not only in our local communities, but also in wider civic and public life. In July I was honoured to take part in the National Day of Commemoration and welcomed the opportunity to meet President Michael D. Higgins, along with fellow Church Leaders in November. To be welcomed so graciously to the Dáil by its speaker and to have the opportunity to discuss a range of issues over lunch with Deputy Ó Fearghaíl was a real privilege, and I want to thank him for his kind hospitality,” Dr Kirkpatrick said.
“Today’s meeting was part of a tradition of active civic engagement and our ongoing commitment to engage with elected representatives. It was also therefore a tremendous pleasure to have the opportunity to meet Minister Humphreys, Ireland’s senior elected Presbyterian, who joined us for lunch.”
The Moderator continued, “The call to elected office and to leadership in the public square brings with it many opportunities, but also challenges. As Christians we are called to pray for those in authority and so Minister Humphreys, An Ceann Comhairle and members of the Oireachtas, An Taoiseach and the coalition government can be assured of my prayers and the prayers of many throughout our Church.”
“As I said at the start of my presbytery tour, while I am a northern minister, we are one all-Ireland church serving Christ together and that faithful service has been very evident to me as I have visited the presbytery this week,” he said.
As Dr Kirkpatrick continues his tour of the Presbytery of Dublin and Munster, which covers all of Munster and Connacht and parts of north and south Leinster, when he visits Rev Helen Freeburn, the minister of Galway Presbyterian, the Moderator will also pay a courtesy call on the city’s mayor, Councillor Clodagh Higgins.
Photo (1) Dr John Kirkpatrick (second from left) with Minister Heather Humphreys TD, Minister for Social Protection and Minister for Rural and Community Development, An Ceann Comhairle, Seán Ó Fearghaíl TD, who hosted today’s lunch, and Rev William Hayes, minister of Tullamore Presbyterian Church and Convener of PCI’s Republic of Ireland Panel (2) Leinster House the seat of the Oireachtas in Dublin.