Almost three decades of Northern Ireland Hospice care will be celebrated at a special service in St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast on Sunday April 28.
The service will celebrate the charity’s achievements over the years and support fundraising plans to build a new hospice at Somerton Road, Belfast.
The Dean, the Very Rev John Mann, will preach, and the leaders of the four main Churches in Northern Ireland will take part in a presentation of candles representing the 28 years of the life of the NI Hospice.
Dean John Mann said the service would be one of thanksgiving for the Northern Ireland Hospice and would encourage churches and all faith communities to have a part in its plans for redevelopment.
“It will give us all an opportunity to reflect on the vital work of the hospice movement in Northern Ireland over the past three decades,” said the Dean. “There must be few, if any, clergy who have not spent time with parishioners receiving loving attention at the Hospice in Somerton Road.
“Such care is, to my mind, a symbolic and real example of how communities should act towards those whose physical, spiritual or mental fragility is not hidden, but compassionately embraced, as we walk with others through times of suffering as well as times of joy.’
Dean Mann continued: “The ministry of the Northern Ireland Hospice is an example of the outworking, in a truly holistic way, of a mature faith in Jesus Christ. He who gave himself for others, asks of his disciples the same commitment to love, which is personified in well–trained staff and volunteers, in fundraisers and friends who value the life of others as much or more than their own. This vital work should attract the support of us all.”
The Most Rev Dr Richard Clarke, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, said: “As someone who experienced very much at first hand the truly wonderful work of a hospice in the final days of my late wife Linda’s time on earth, I am truly in awe of this vital ministry of care and support. I would not only wish to salute the hospice movement in Northern Ireland on this anniversary celebration, but also assure them of my support for the future.”
Encouraging the public to join and share in the Service of Celebration, Hospice Chief Executive, Professor Dame Judith Hill said: “We held our first service of Thanksgiving in 1985 at St Anne’s Cathedral to mark the opening of Northern Ireland Hospice and were deeply moved by the support and encouragement we received from so many local people who had understood the importance of building a hospice in Northern Ireland.
“We have built a solid foundation for an exciting new future and hope the people of NI will join us to celebrate and share in the vision to build a new hospice.”
The service begins at 3.30pm.