is a popular destination for many faithful from different cultural backgrounds. On Saturday, it was the Irish who ventured out to Midland, Ontario for Mass and a day of prayer. It was for the annual Irish Peace Garden commemoration. It was ten years ago that the Peace Garden was erected at the Shrine. One of its founding members; Geraldine Sullivan was inspired by her brother who had been visiting from Ireland. She had taken him up to the Shrine where he saw how the many different cultures displayed their nationality and religious identity in various structures and places throughout the grounds. He asked why Irish Canadians didn’t have something to commemorate their Catholic devotion and Irish identity. In response to her brother’s question, Geraldine got together with two other members of the local Irish community, Eamonn Dorgan and Hugo Straney and they brought the project to fruition.
I came upon the event in my research for my Catholic Focus on the Northern Ireland Conflict. It was a perfect coincidence that it coincided with the filming for the episode. I spent a wonderful day of filming and meeting Irish Canadians at the Irish Peace Garden. It was a moving and significant ceremony that celebrated the Irish culture and their history in Canada. Speakers talked about their Irish heritage and the importance of praying for peace and their loved ones who have passed. They continue to pray for peace in Ireland and that there isn’t a return to violence. They also pray for other places throughout the world where political and religious conflicts still persist.
Bishop Peter Hundt gave a blessing in the Peace Garden before presiding over Mass with those gathered. Bishop Hunt is the vicar general and regional bishop of the northern and eastern pastoral regions for the Archdiocese of Toronto.
The strong Catholic faith of the Irish people has left such a great impression on me. I have met many individuals of exemplary faith and conviction both here in Canada and in Ireland. The story of the Irish Catholics has always been an important one to tell and I am honored to be able to be doing that. If you visit Martyrs’ Shrine, be sure to stop by the Irish Peace Garden. It’s a beautiful tribute to the legacy of the Irish in Canada. Keep an eye out for news on my Catholic Focus. I’ll be keeping you updated on its screening this fall.