12 September 2019

Interfaith consultation with
the Muslim community

Members of the Church of Ireland interfaith consultation on the steps of the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland this afternoon

Patrick Comerford

I spent much today [12 September 2019] taking part in a Church of Ireland interfaith consultation that focused on engagement with the Muslim community in Dublin.

After the Sikh commemorations of Max Macauliffe in Templeglantine, Co Limerick, yesterday, this has been a busy week for interfaith engagements.

The day was organised by the Interfaith Working Group of the Church of Ireland, chaired by Bishop Kenneth Kearon of Limerick.

The principal speaker was Dr Ali Selim, the resident theologian at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland (ICCI), who has studied at the Irish School of Ecumenics and lectured in Trinity College Dublin.

Six or seven dioceses in the Church of Ireland were represented at the consultation, which took place in both the Church of Ireland Theological Institute and the Islamic Centre, and included a visit to the mosque and school in Clonskeagh and lunch at the restaurant at the centre.

The previous interfaith consultation earlier this year [5 March 2019] included a seminar with Rabbi Zalman Lent and a visit to the Dublin Jewish Museum in Portobello, an area also known as Dublin’s ‘Little Jerusalem.’

These interfaith encounters are positive experiences of face-to-face dialogue and an opportunity for the Church of Ireland to engage with the cultural and religious diversity that is contributing positively to shaping Irish identity today.

Inside the mosque in Clonskeagh earlier this afternoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

‘The Spiritual Journey of Ireland’
arrives back in Askeaton Rectory

An interview with David Patton in Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton, for ‘The Spiritual Journey of Ireland’ (Photograph: Beniamin Sobotka)

Patrick Comerford

I returned to the rectory in Askeaton, Co Limerick, from two weeks in Greece to find a very welcome package was waiting for me at the Post Office.

The package included five copies of the DVD The Spiritual Journey of Ireland, launched earlier this summer in the Arc Cinema, Drogheda, and a number of thank you presents for having taken part in this documentary.

The Spiritual Journey of Ireland is a documentary that invites viewers to journey around the island of Ireland, exploring places, people and monuments that have helped to define the spiritual heritage of the people and the island from the earliest inhabitants to the present day.

Along with me, the other contributors include Nick Park, Executive Director of the Evangelical Alliance Ireland, and Dr John Scally, Professor in Ecclesiastical History at Trinity College Dublin, and Matthew Knell, Lecturer in Historical Theology and Church History in the London School of Theology.

David Patton, the director and producer of The Spiritual Journey of Ireland, says it features ‘contributors who each bring a unique voice.’

The documentary, with a run time of 64 minutes, ‘is full of inspiring and thought-provoking conversations set to a backdrop of breath-taking local scenery,’ David says.

‘Our incredibly beautiful landscape provides stunning visuals from start to finish. This film will help you better understand how we became the nation that we are and connect you to our spiritual past while inspiring you towards our future.’

This independent production has been made possible by individual contributions to a successful crowd-funding campaign, and is described as a ‘gripping and breath-taking dive into our spiritual past and present.’

This is an amazing and eye-opening project that is sure to open countless dialogues about the developing relationship between the Irish people and spirituality, and catapult many of its viewers to interrogate their role in the future of the nation's spiritual dimension.

I spent the afternoon in Askeaton last year working with David Patton and his Polish-born brother-in-law Beniamin Sobotka, on The Spiritual Journey of Ireland.

David is from Dundalk, Co Louth, and the concept for this documentary has been with him since 2002 when he first started investigating Ireland’s rich spiritual heritage. Since then, he has always dreamt of researching this in more detail and bringing out ‘the pivotal stories that make up our spiritual journey as a nation and see what impact it has both on our present and future.’

He says the topic gripped him then and has stayed with him ever since.

He is a leader in a local church in Drogheda, and describes himself as ‘a passionate communicator and student of faith.’

Filming took David and Beniamin to heritage sites across Ireland, enjoying the opportunity this bright summer weather provides to capture the beautiful landscape as a visual backdrop to the spoken content delivered by many contributors.

To stay connected with SJOI through Facebook you can search SJOI and like their page.

The Spiritual Journey of Ireland: Run time, 64 minutes; RRP: €12, £10, $15.

‘The Spiritual Journey of Ireland’ … a ‘gripping and breath-taking dive into our spiritual past and present’