Archbishop praises hospice movement

The Archbishop of Armagh was at a special service on Sunday celebrating three decades of care by the Northern Ireland Hospice.

The service was held on Sunday at St Anne's Cathedral, Belfast, and was led by the Dean, the Very Reverend John Mann.

The leaders of the four main Churches in Northern Ireland came together in a presentation of candles representing the 28 years of the life of the NI Hospice.

The Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, Dr Richard Clarke, offered a personal reflection during the service.

He gave thanks in particular for the ministry at St Brigid's Hospice on the Curragh of Kildare, which cared for his wife Linda during the final days of her life.

"The business of dying, of watching a loved one come to the end of their earthly life and the prospect of letting go, for all the parties involved can never be easy, or less than sorrowful and distressing," he said.

"In that setting, however, to experience also not only gentle and superb clinical care and nursing but also the caring support for whatever you and the family circle believe is the right way of approaching death is indeed a wonderful gift and blessing.

"We received this at St Brigid's Hospice and I know that many thousands of people throughout Northern Ireland and this island as a whole have received that same blessing in different ways.

"Whatever else may be seen as expendable or disposable in our society, I hope that the hospice movement will always receive complete and enthusiastic support from all who can provide it. You deserve nothing less, and many of us will always be in your debt. May God continue to bless you."