FOUR CORNERS, TWO CHURCHMEN, AND ONE MAJOR AWARD
Rev Steve Stockman and Fr Martin Magill presented with joint CRC Civic Leadership Award
Two largely unsung heroes of cross-community work in Northern Ireland today jointly received a high-profile award to recognise their dedication.
The Community Relations Council (CRC) this afternoon presented the CRC Annual Award for Civic Leadership to Fr Martin Magill and Rev Steve Stockman in front of their respective congregations at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in North Belfast, and Fitzroy Presbyterian Church in South Belfast.
The two clergymen then came together later in the afternoon with their trophies.
Rev Stockman and Fr Magill are perhaps best known for their highly-regarded 4 Corners Festival in Belfast, which brings people from across the city together through cultural and arts activity.
The two clergymen accepted an invitation to speak together at the opening session of the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis last year. And Rev Stockman is set to speak at the Clonard Novena this week.
Both clergymen regularly write and broadcast on the theme of reconciliation and a shared future.
This is the third year of the CRC Civic Leadership Award, which seeks to recognise exceptional contribution to civic leadership in Northern Ireland and the demonstration of sustained leadership that has helped promote community relations, peacebuilding or intercultural work.
Previous winners were Lord William Hay and Máirtin O Muilleoir, and Linda Ervine in 2015, who is helping to change perceptions of the Irish language in unionist communities.
CRC Chairman, Peter Osborne, said that the award was fitting recognition for Rev Stockman and Fr Magill.
“Fr Magill and Rev Stockman’s enthusiasm for promoting reconciliation is utterly impressive and unrelenting. They epitomise what this award is all about, being very public in their togetherness, being highly creative in building understanding, and involving so many other people in working towards a more inclusive and integrated society. CRC is absolutely delighted and honoured to jointly present them with this year’s award,” he says.
Rev Stockman said: "I am surprised and humbled by this award. Fr Martin and I don’t do what we do with any intention of being given awards. I am particularly delighted that it comes from outside of the Church. I have always believed that my following of Jesus should benefit everyone and if it doesn’t contribute to society as a whole then it is useless and bears no resemblance to what we read about Jesus in the Gospels. I think that there will be moments when I will take a look across my office at this award to give myself encouragement to continue to do what we are trying to do.”
Fr Magill added: “I am pleased that the Community Relations Council has recognised the contribution that people of faith can and should make to civic society. I have been blessed by my friendship with Rev Steve Stockman which has given us both many different opportunities we would not have had as individuals. I would like to use this award as a platform to encourage more people, especially from the churches, to be involved in healing the wounds of our society and ensuring we never again return to the violence of the past.”
CRC Award for Civic Leadership
The Community Relations Council presented the inaugural award in 2014 to two individuals to mark their contribution to Civic Leadership. The individuals receiving the award were Lord William Hay, who was Speaker of the NI Assembly, and Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, who had just completed a year as Lord Mayor of Belfast. Linda Ervine was presented with the award in 2015.
The award took the form of a hand-crafted sculpture designed from bronze and limestone by the artist Kate Oram.
Nominations are by Members of the Community Relations Council and members of the public. The following criteria act as guidance in the consideration of nominations:
- Evidence of the exceptional contribution to civic leadership across Northern Ireland, particularly in recent times, in one or more fields of activity in civic life.
- Evidence that the nominee has demonstrated sustained leadership that has helped promote community relations, peacebuilding or intercultural work
- Evidence of influence in shaping positive attitudes towards peace-building and community relations issues.
About Fr Magill and Rev Stockman
Fr Martin J Magill was born in Aldergrove in 1961. He was educated in St James’ PS, Aldergrove, St Malachy’s College, Belfast, Queen’s University, Belfast, Gregorian University, Rome, Angelicum University, Rome and St Mary’s University College, Belfast. He was ordained a priest in 1988 and has served in the following Belfast parishes: Holy Family Parish, Nativity Parish, St Oliver Plunkett Parish. He is presently the parish priest of Sacred Heart Parish.
He has been a member of several inter church clergy fellowships, as well as a member of the Inter Church Addictions Project. Along with Rev Steve Stockman he is a founding member of 4 Corners Festival Belfast which is presently planning the 5th annual festival for February 2017.
Steve Stockman was born in 1961 in Ballymena. He was ordained in First Antrim Presbyterian Church in 1988 and after 5 years in Antrim moved to Dublin to be The Presbyterian Church’s Youth Development Officer for the Republic of Ireland. He moved back to Belfast in 1994 and was Presbyterian Chaplain at Queens until he became minister of Fitzroy in 2009.
Steve has been interested and involved in rock music, hosting his own radio show, writing books including Walk On; The Spiritual Journey of U2 and speaking about music and theology across the world. He blogs daily on his blog Soul Surmise about Jesus, Art and Social Justice.
He believes his interest in social justice and reconciliation comes from a blending of his interest in music and his commitment to following Jesus. As minister in Fitzroy he inherited involvement in the Pax Christi Peace Award winning Clonard Fitzroy Fellowship and along with Fr Martin Magill founded the 4 Corners Festival.
He is married to Janice and has two daughters Caitlin and Jasmine.