14 December 2021

‘Living Stones, Living Hope’ … Rathkeale
features in USPG Lent Course for 2022

‘Living Stones, Living Hope’ … a Lent Course for Lent 2022 produced by the Anglican mission agency USPG

‘Living Stones, Living Hope’ is the title of the Lent Course for 2022 produced by the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel). The course includes reflections from five global theologians, including Canon Patrick Comerford, who draws on his experiences of Church co-operation in Rathkeale.

The title of USPG's Lent course comes from I Peter 2, ‘Living Stones, Living Hope’. This epistle (I Peter) is the text of the Bible study for the Lambeth Conference in July 2022. In basing this Lenten study on this text, USPG is in solidarity with the bishops preparing for this important meeting in the life of the Anglican Communion.

The metaphor of the Christian community in 1 Peter 2 as living stones is rich and evocative. ‘Living Stones, Living Hope’ explores this from the perspective of five partner churches around the world, inviting us to reflect on our own experience of being ‘living stones’ bringing ‘living hope’ in our own situations.

Canon Patrick Comerford of the Rathkeale Group of Parishes is one of five international theologians contributing to this Lenten course. He writes about the experience of the Church of Ireland in the study for Week 4, looking at the impact of Brexit on a cross-border church, of the tensions that remain after the peace process, and other social and political changes in Ireland.

He also writes about the work of the three main churches in West Limerick, offering the work of the churches in Rathkeale as ‘one small example of applying our understanding’ of ‘the stone that the builders rejected.’ The project in Rathkeale seeks ‘to create understanding and a shared space for Travellers, who are a large ethnic minority in the area, and the people of Rathkeale, who fear losing their social, economic and cultural place in the town.’

He writes, ‘As the Church takes stock once again, it needs to be less worried about how it is perceived or whether it is losing credibility, and more willing to engage with these questions, even when this is costly.’ As part of the Lenten Studies, Patrick is also leading a USPG webinar on the Celtic Church on 24 March.

The other contributors to ‘Living Stones, Living Hope’ are from Brazil, India, Korea and Zambia. Canon Comerford has also contributed to a video produced for this course. ‘Living Stones, Living Hope’ can be viewed and ordered through the USPG website (uspg.org.uk).

Canon Comerford and Bishop Michael Burrows of Cashel Ferns and Ossory are also the two contributors from the Church of Ireland taking part in USPG’s 24-hour global wave of prayer on 30 November.

Many of the 42 provinces in the Anglican Communion are joining the Anglican Communion Day of Prayer on 30 November. Canon Comerford’s contribution was filmed in Holy Trinity Church, Rathkeale, while Bishop Burrows recalls his friendships with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Trevor Huddleston, and Bishop Elinah Wamukoya of Swaziland, a former mission partner of this diocese who died earlier this year.

This news feature is published in the December 2021/January 2022 edition of ‘Newslink’ (Diocese of Limerick and Killaloe), p 17

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