Words from Fr Healy ADM
Letter from Bishop Colm
Recovery of Museum Artefacts
Words from Fr. Healy ADM
Christmas Day - 2009
Restoration Fund
News Updates
A Nightmare Christmas Story
2nd January 2010

Dear Parishioners,

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 our parishioners.

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.

The Temperance 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 over.

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 greatly appreciated.

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 to us.

Naturally, we 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. Mel’s Cathedral.

On behalf of Parish Pastoral Team:

Una Campbell, 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 us.