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The President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgens, hosted a delegation of some fifty Baha’is, including children, youth, and adults, at a reception on 12 February at his official residence.
During the gathering, which was hosted to celebrate the bicentennial year, President Higgens offered remarks, commenting warmly on his association with the Baha’i community and highlighting the teachings and principles of the Baha’i Faith:
Quench ye the fires of war, lift high the banners of peace, work for the oneness of humankind and remember that religion is the channel of love unto all peoples. Be ye aware that the children of men are sheep of God and He their loving Shepherd, that He careth tenderly for all His sheep and maketh them to feed in His own green pastures of grace and giveth them to drink from the wellspring of life. Such is the way of the Lord. Such are His bestowals. Such, from among His teachings, is His precept of the oneness of mankind. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 36.
Speaking of the Baha’i principle of the oneness of humankind, President Higgens said, “It is this commonality, this ‘oneness’ of the human race that inspires the Baha’i Faith, which is inspirational to us all.
“Your kindness and generosity in looking out for the vulnerable, reaching out to people of all faiths, and indeed those of no faith, is both inspiring and humbling. It takes wholehearted and sustained effort and a generosity of spirit to open our hearts and homes to those who are different by virtue of language, history, religion, politics, perspective, culture, or identity,” he continued.
At the reception, the National Assembly of the Baha’is of Ireland presented President Higgens with a hand-bound copy of a selection of the Baha’i writings translated into the Irish language, also known as Gaelic. The translation was published during the bicentenary period and happened to coincide with a nationwide effort to promote the Irish language.
President Higgens thanked the Baha’i community for the gift, mentioning that it was a “practical and positive contribution” to the nation’s efforts.
Member of the National Assembly Brendan McNamara also spoke at the event, sharing the aspirations and efforts of the Baha’i community to contribute its share to the betterment of society and to an increasingly unified and just world.
“The President’s remarks will serve both as an encouragement to the Baha’i community and also as a challenge—that we do not falter in our efforts to live by the noble principles that animate our efforts,” said Dr. McNamara.
In his concluding remarks at the reception, President Higgens addressed the Baha’is of Ireland, saying: “The work you do within your faith communities, the work you do in the civic space to explain the character and needs of those communities, the work you do in contributing to the strength and diversity of the civic space—these are all vital investments in breaking down the things that get in the way of healthy, flourishing, communal relations. I know you will continue to inspire and motivate young people, and ensure the Baha’i Faith will go from strength to strength, continuing to bring people together here and around the world.”