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Joy Bells shall ring out in Waterford

By The Very Revd Maria Jansson, Dean of Waterford

The Very Revd Maria Jansson, Dean of Waterford.
The Very Revd Maria Jansson, Dean of Waterford.

The rise in hateful racist attitudes in the public realm is alarming because it draws upon the basest instincts in humankind with appalling consequence for any society.  In utter contrast, Jesus ever draws forth the best in us. “Love one another as I have loved to you” is not a call to sentiment but to a practical and sincere commitment to uphold the dignity and wellbeing of others. So this is a time to protest against what is utterly wrong in our world and at the same time give witness to the hope to which we are all called.

The bells of Christ Church Cathedral, Waterford, have been silent for 18 months due to repairs. Known locally as the ‘Joy Bells’, their relaunch across the city will offer an opportunity to make a statement of what we stand for as a community. In the cathedral, 12 different nationalities and people from all faith backgrounds join together and worship and fellowship. God has brought us together in our diversity and this is a real joy.

The rise in racism and xenophobia across the world is in direct opposition to the Gospel of Christ, the Gospel of love. On Sunday, 19 March at 11am, Dr Mary McAleese, former President of Ireland, will launch the bell peal, having preached at the 10am service.

Through social media we asked people to join in ringing bells on that day and responses have come in from all over the world: City of Sanctuary (over 100 cities and towns in the UK and Ireland); St Chad’s Anglican Church, Fullarton, in South Australia; Notre Dame University and Newark Diocese in the US; All Saints Anglican Church in Rome; St Patrick’s Cathedral; Dublin, St Mary’s University London; Balaghdereen Parish, Co. Roscommon, where Syrian refugees will be accommodated; Mulhuddart, Dublin which has a high population of immigrants; and Clogher Diocese – to name but a few.

In Waterford, the bells of St Patrick’s Methodist Church and the Roman Catholic cathedral will ring out with us at 11 am.  Dr Rowan Williams, last Archbishop of Canterbury has offered his support for this initiative, as has Cardinal Nichols, the head of the Roman Catholic Church in the UK. H.E. Mr. Istvan S. Palffy, Ambassador of Hungary to Ireland and his wife, Judit Toth, will attend the service and the bell peal.

That the peal will ring out on St. Patrick’s weekend is pertinent. On that day we remember the immigrant who brought Ireland to faith as well as the millions of Irish emigrants who sought opportunity around the world. Let us mark this day by a show of solidarity with all desperately seeking welcome and new lives among us. 

We invite you to ring your bells as 11am on 19 March and let your community know what you are doing. Let us proclaim together through the bells our message of welcome, respect and solidarity with immigrants and refugees and people made invisible in their desperation.

This article was first published in The Church of Ireland Gazette.