Faith Matters

Peace resources inspired by Clonard's Fr Alec Reid and Fr Gerry Reynolds

Fr Gerry Reynolds, who died in 2015, and Fr Alec Reid, who died in 2013, pictured in the gardens of Clonard Monastery, Belfast. The Redemptorist priests' example has inspired new peacebuilding resources.

CLONARD Peace Ministry has launched new peacebuilding resources built on the life and witness of the late Redemptorists Fr Gerry Reynolds and Fr Alec Reid.

The resources seek to raise awareness of the priests' non-violent work for peace, to emphasise the continued importance of faith-based peacebuilding, and to encourage contemporary inter-church activism.

They have been inspired by the book Unity Pilgrim: The Life of Fr Gerry Reynolds CSsR, written by Gladys Ganiel, a sociologist at Queen's University Belfast.

The project has been supported by a Queen's University impact grant, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (UK).

The resource for school retreats and youth groups will be used by Clonard Youth Ministry, which each year organises retreats for up to 2,500 young people from schools across Northern Ireland. Clonard Youth Ministry also has regular, direct contact with about 40 young people in its own youth group.

Brendan Dineen, director of Clonard Youth Ministry, said: "It is our hope that young people will be inspired by the example of Fr Gerry and Fr Alec, who worked patiently and creatively for peace in a violent and divided society.

"We want these resources to empower young people to draw on their faith to respond to the contemporary challenges of peacebuilding and building better community relationships."

The resource for parishes and congregations is titled, Unity Pilgrims: What Does it Mean to Practise Christian Unity?

Fr Reynolds, who died in 2015, pioneered the Unity Pilgrims, a group of Catholics who regularly visit services of other Christian denominations. The resource aims to encourage other groups of Christians - Catholic and Protestant - to adopt the practice of regularly visiting other faith communities.

Ed Petersen, coordinator of Clonard Peace Ministry, noted that public discourse had become increasingly polarised.

"We know from our experience during the Troubles that people who participated in ecumenical activities often experienced changes in which their identities became more open and inclusive, resulting in better community relations," he said.

"Fr Gerry was an activist, and we hope this resource will prompt others to continue to work for unity in our still-divided society."

The resources and more information is available at

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