• 17 March 2021

Celebrating Patrick in a pandemic

Because of COVID restrictions, the Diocese of Down and Dromore moved its annual St Patrick’s Day celebrations online with a virtual Prayer Pilgrimage and a live–streamed service from Down Cathedral.

Children and families were able to celebrate at home or locally with a specially commissioned ‘Muddy Prayer Trail‘ based on words from St Patrick’s Breastplate.

Our celebrations normally gather visitors from across the world and begin with a service at Saul, the site of Patrick’s first church. Instead, the Bishop David and the Dean Henry Hull celebrated a simple service of Holy Communion before walking prayerfully from Saul to the Cathedral. 

Meanwhile, pilgrims at home were invited to take a virtual prayer pilgrimage with Glynis Matchett with a short film premiered on social media. The pilgrimage is inspired by Patrick’s journey from slave to missionary and reflects on his faith and passion for the gospel. Find out more and take the pilgrimage here.

Unable to gather for in–person worship, at noon Dean Henry Hull welcomed viewers to a live broadcast from Down Cathedral. Bishop David led the service and guest speakers, Patrick Regan OBE (above right), and singer–songwriter Andy Flannagan (above left) joined us by video. 

Conscious that the past year has seen many thousands of people face traumatic situations and significant mental health issues, the diocese had chosen the theme “When Faith Gets Shaken’. Patrick Regan is the author of a book by the same name and founder and CEO of mental health charity Kintsugi Hope

Drawing on their own experiences, Patrick and Andy encouraged us to be honest with God in lament and to trust that he brings beauty from our brokenness. Andy sang two pieces – Fragile and a song of complaint based on Psalm 142.

We’re grateful to soloist Ruth Thompson who sang two songs – What Grace is Mine and Christ Be Beside Me – and to the Cathedral organist, Michael McCracken.

Following the service, several local clergy gathered at St Patrick’s grave for a socially distanced wreath laying. Keeping with the focus on mental wellbeing, the wreath was laid by Mr Jackie Breen a Senior Mental Health Nurse based at Finneston House in Downpatrick.