An example for us to follow

Published: 28 Jun 2012 13:000 comments

"Without a word she has walked from one church to the other and has given us an example to follow."

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"Without a word she has walked from one church to the other and has given us an example to follow."

The words of Canon Peter O'Reilly of St. Michael's Church after he had welcomed Queen Elizabeth to Enniskillen on Tuesday.

He added: "But it is important to realise that it is an example which we are already involving ourselves here in Enniskillen".

The people of Enniskillen should be proud of this and proud that their efforts have helped create an environment in which the Queen could make those few short steps across Church Street on Tuesday that signified so much.

Our local church leaders, Canon O'Reilly and the Very. Rev. Kenneth Hall, Dean of Clogher have offered significant leadership to our community in the preparations for this most historic of visits. But their work has been made possible by the huge strides that we as a community have already made.

The visit was historic for a range of reasons. The Queen's visit to St. Michael's Church marked the first time she had stepped inside a Catholic church in Ireland. Tuesday's Service of Thanksgiving also marked the first time that a reigning British monarch had been in St. Macartin's Cathedral in its 385 year history.

Historic because of the symbolism too. Just a few short decades ago it would have been unthinkable that the Queen would have taken those few short steps from one church to the other. Crossing the street marked a crossing of divides too -- a gesture not lost on the thousands who lined the streets to welcome the Queen to Enniskillen on the occasion of her 60th year on the throne.

It also highlights the respect between the two faiths that has developed and continues to develop.

That is a wonderful message to send out from a town that has come to be known for loss and tragedy.

But that loss was not forgotten either. It was particularly moving that the Queen met in private with those relatives who were so dreadfully bereaved in the Enniskillen bombing 25 years ago. Her sympathetic words will no doubt bring comfort to them.

While the wounds of the past are not forgotten, the Queen has symbolised the way forward.

Even the announcement of the visit -- weeks in advance -- showed a new way of doing things. Previously, it would have been a well-kept secret. Changed times means a change in practice too.

And so it allowed those many, many well-wishers to come to the streets of the county town to meet the Queen in this, her Jubilee year.

The delight among those who attended the events was universal and will be remembered for many years to come.

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