It is a little
over a week since we celebrated a wonderful Christmas
midnight Mass at St. Mel’s Cathedral with a full
congregation. The choir was magnificent, the Cathedral
looked splendid, we had a team of servers, readers,
Eucharistic ministers, ushers, and a family to lay the
child Jesus in the Crib. We also had a team of people
to greet you at the entrances and to present you with
a prayer card depicting the Crib in the Cathedral.
As we ended Midnight
mass we went to the porches as we have traditionally
done and there we received and exchanged greetings and
expressions of friendship and of affection with you
As in past years,
we came into the Presbytery to share a cup of tea and
along with Bishop Colm we would have had a great sense
of occasion and a great sense of the privilege it is
to minister in such a wonderful parish and in such a
fantastic building as St. Mel’s.
And then some
5 hours later we were to receive the awful news and
to watch the fire grow and spread and devastate our
mother Church. The damage is extremely serious inside
but if there’s hope to be had, the early indications
are that the main superstructure that you’ve known
and loved all your life, is safe. So a major restoration
project has begun; it is going to take some years to
bring to completion but we are absolutely committed
and entirely hopeful that we will have a wonderful re-opening
in some years time.
That is our
hope and our dream and our goal.
We are very much
aware of the loss for each one of you in terms not just
of the physical building. We are keenly aware of the
affectionate place that St. Mel’s has in your
hearts. It’s where generations of Longford people
have come to pray, to give time to coming to know their
God, to celebrate their baptisms, weddings and funerals,
and to pray holy hours, rosaries and stations of the
cross - so our loss is immense.
Hall has proved to be a useful short term solution but
having considered the position we don’t think
it is the long term answer to our present needs. However,
we are fortunate to have facilities available to us
at St. Mel’s College. The Principal and staff
have been extremely welcoming and accommodating. We
have assembled a team of volunteers from our Pastoral
Council, Temperance Hall Committee and Finance Committee
and currently we are working hard at developing the
college chapel for daily mass and making the sports
hall suitable for Sunday Mass. It’s a little bit
of a walk down the avenue but perhaps we will discover
the joy of walking and the beauty of trees.
The College is
in the ownership of the local Church community and shares
the same name as the Cathedral. We are fortunate to
have it available to us and we hope it will become a
suitable place for our worship for the years in which
we are without the use of our Cathedral.
As you will appreciate
we have had to make decisions very quickly in the past
week. Every day has been extremely busy and full; there
are so many aspects to what has happed last week. So
we have yet to decide how best to facilitate the sacraments
of reconciliation and baptism and Parish Funerals but
we will focus a little more in the days to come on these
important aspects of parish life.
It will take
some weeks to bring these plans to completion –
please consult local media, our Parish Newsletter and
our new website www.longfordparish.com for further details
as they evolve.
I would like
to take the opportunity to offer our sincere gratitude
to so many people who have been in touch by texts, letters,
emails, and cards from all over the town, county, country
and the world. We have been overwhelmed by your messages
of sympathy and goodwill and offers of help from all
We are deeply touched by the care and support we have
received and in time we will try to acknowledge each
message. At the moment it is physically impossible to
do so but each message of support is recognised and
We express our
gratitude to the Garda, Fire Services, local Press,
other Church leaders and countless people who have assisted
in so many ways during these trying days. We express
our gratitude to Management and Staff at St. Mel’s
College, and the Temperance Hall who have been so cooperative
are also saddened by the death of our former Bishop
of 15 years, Cardinal Cahal Daly. We entrust him into
God’s mercy and care. May he rest in peace.
So the end of 2009 brought sad dark days for our parish
but we begin this new year with renewed hope and optimism,
buoyed by the Christian charity and support of our community.
The words of St. Paul come to mind - ‘Be joyful
in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer’
and in that spirit we move on and up.
On behalf of
the Parish Pastoral Team I wish you and your family
every happiness and God’s Blessings for 2010.
Thomas Healy (Rev.), Administrator, St.
of Parish Pastoral Team:
Fr. Nigel Charles, Sr. Angela Clarkson, Rachel Cooney,
Catherine Corkery, Deirdre Dalton Colm Dardis, Tom Dolan,
Fr. Tom Healy, Fr. Padraig Kelliher, Fr. Merlyn Kenny,
Anita Mollaghan, Fr. Brendan O’ Sullivan, Teresa
Neville, Kevin Victory,
St. Mel and St. Ciaran - pray for