On Sunday, December 15, Canon Hazel Hicks warmly welcomed a full church for a special carol and dedication service in St Thomas’ Columbkille Church of Ireland Parish.
Canon Hicks welcomed Bishop Ferran Glenfield, Bishop of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh and Fr McKeown from Columbkille Parish, organist Leila Beattie, and all of the visitors from surrounding parishes and churches. The service began with an opening prayer, before the congregation then joined in with the singing of well-known Christmas Carols and the Nativity story was also read.
Canon Hazel explained that while the church building will continue to be used as a place of worship, it will also be opened up as a community space for such activities as Messy Church, concerts, art exhibitions, meetings, training, keep fit and much more.
The inspiration for using the church as a community space came from St Thomas’ oldest parishioner, John Fitzpatrick and it had the unanimous support of the Select vestry. As the parish celebrated the completion of the work, they remembered life-long, faithful parishioner and vestry member, David Norris, who died in a tragic farm accident in May this year. David’s brothers, sister and their families attended the service.
Canon Hazel praised David Norris for his full support of the work of the church and a bequest left by David in his will, which enabled the parish to purchase 50 Church chairs. The remaining chairs were purchased by generous parishioners.
Appreciation was recorded to Gerry Reilly, Ballytherm for the gift of insulation and David Jones for the vestry door. A great debt of gratitude is owed to David Jones for his dedication and commitment, spending many hours in the Church doing practical tasks and project managing the work. Thanks were expressed to all the parishioners who helped in so many ways to ensure that the work was completed.
Danielle Hall then presented the parish with a painting of the Church and the Church wardens, Joe Gorman and Helen Hall, requested Bishop Ferran to dedicate a number of works and gifts to the Glory of God.
These were: Church Chairs in memory of David Norris, Oil-fired central heating Insulation for floors and walls donated by Gerry Reilly Ballytherm, Pitch pine wooden floor and wainscoting, Work to the Vestry, Installation of a Church Safe and the Vestry Door presented by David Jones.
Bishop Ferran thanked those who presented gifts and congratulated the parish for laying foundations for future generations. He then led prayers for the parish, before Bible lessons were read by Susan Bleakley-Smith, Rhoda Hall, Joe Gorman, John Jones, Barbara Jones and Canon Hazel.
Seamus Sheridan read a prayer for the local community, with Mary Geelan leading a prayer for those in need and local charities. Helen Gorman then prayed for the parish and David Jones prayed for parishioners to know the real meaning of Christmas.
Canon Hazel thanked Bishop Ferran, the organist, all who read lessons and prayers, the parishioners who decorated the Church so beautifully and those who provided goodies for the tea. Bishop Ferran then said Grace and gave a Christmas blessing, before all present enjoyed afternoon tea.