History of the Ulster Project

 

    Following an extended pastoral exchange with a clergyman in Manchester, Connecticut, Canon Kerry Waterstone, a Church of Ireland (Anglican) priest, received a request from two congregations in that city asking him to formulate a plan in an effort to help ease the tensions in Northern Ireland. After the experience of his own family in America, Canon Waterstone felt that the attitudes of teens from Northern Ireland might be changed. If they could see and experience the way Americans have learned to live together in their “melting pot” society, they might influence the future in Northern Ireland.
 

    After obtaining approval from church leaders, Canon Waterstone travelled into Northern Ireland to secure the cooperation of clergy willing to help in the implementation of his plan. Forming the original guidelines for the Project, he focused on the prejudices and stereotypes, which are the root cause of the bitter strife labeled Catholic/Protestant. Nationally, the Project began in the United States in 1975, and in 2008 there will be 18 Projects here in the United States.

    Our efforts DO foster peace through observation, communication, bridge building, and interaction.  The New Orleans Area joined the program for the first time in 1991 and has received support from members of over 100 New Orleans Area parishes and congregations, along with a similar number of other organizations.  The clergy in our paired community of Castlederg DO believe that the Ulster Project has and is making a profound difference there.  The teen participants and counselors have agreed that the program has greatly stimulated "cross-community" relations, which are otherwise quite lacking. 

    The goal of the Ulster Project this year is to show in a small but increasingly important way what can be in a larger society!  The teens and counselors from Castlederg who will have been a part of our project by the end of July 2008 will have had experiences showing what the future can be.  All of the thousands of people and all of the helpful organizations in both Northern Ireland and the United States do prove the "Circles of Peace" are growing larger.