Exiles Forum

Lisburn, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland

Minister and Priest from US visit Lisburn

Deputy Mayor Trevor Lunn with Presbyterian Minister Rev Barry Keating (right) and Father Peter Byrne. US33-126A0


A PRESBYTERIAN Minister from the USA who previously served in both First Lisburn and Kilmakee Churches returned to Lisburn this week along with one of his best friends who is a Jesuit Priest.

Rev. Barry Keating arrived in the city last Thursday with a party of three teenagers and three adults from the church of which he is now Minister - Maplewood Presbyterian in Edmonds, a suburb of the city of Seattle.

Meanwhile, Father Peter Byrne who is Parish Priest of St. Ignatius Church in Portland, Oregon, arrived on Sunday. Rev. Keating whose party is helping out with the Holiday Bible Club at First Lisburn explained he became a Minister at the church in 1978 and remained there until the early 1980's.

After marrying his US born wife Nancy he moved to the United States but later the couple returned to Northern Ireland and he spent some time during the 1990's as Minister at Kilmakee.

He and his wife then moved back to the US with their daughter Shea.

Rev. Keating is now keen to develop church links between Seattle and Lisburn to coincide with the links already being developed between the City Council and its Seattle counterpart.

He was also very keen that Father Byrne should visit Lisburn with him and was glad he was able to accept the invitation.

have become firm friends since meeting at a study programme last September and Rev. Keating explained what they hoped to achieve in Lisburn.

"Really, we are just hoping to try and enhance the relationship between some of the churches here," he said.

"We are also hoping some of the people from First Lisburn and St. Patrick's in Chapel Hill will be able to visit us in Seattle."

Rev. Keating is heavily involved with inter-faith work in the US and takes part in reconciliation programmes at a venue called 'Camp Brotherhood'.

He explained the aim of this is to develop and create dialogue between Christians, Muslims and Jews.

Since arriving he has met many people who knew him during his time as a local Minister.

He and Father Byrne whose parish is made up of around 1500 people have also met the Mayor Councillor Jonathan Craig and taken coffee with Councillor Paul Butler.

Father Byrne, however, has yet to meet any representatives of St. Patrick's Parish as his visit coincides with the departure of Father Sean Rogan for his new charge in Downpatrick.

"We arc hoping to visit some friends of mine in Belfast who are members of the Catholic Church," said Rev. Keating.

"Really, one of the main purposes of our trip is to let young people from Maplewood meet real Northern Ireland people instead of the political representatives they see on television."

Lagan Valley MLA Billy Bell has arranged a visit to Stormont for the party followed by lunch at Parliament Buildings.

They also hope to tour around visiting tourist attractions such as the Giants Causeway and have arranged to enjoy a day trip to Dublin by train.