Irish news – 7th June

Bangor Parish Church damaged in overnight blaze; President Re-Opens National Maritime Museum in former church; Armagh parish’s Jubilee service; Three reports on the current state of the Catholic church in Ireland

Bangor Parish Church damaged in overnight blaze
BBC News reports this morning, June 7, that the 130-year-old Bangor Parish Church in Bangor has been badly damaged in an overnight fire. The blaze started at 02:00 BST on Thursday in the roof of the Church at Hamilton Road in the town.

Part of the roof of the Church of Ireland building was destroyed and the inside of the church is badly smoke logged. It is thought the building will be out of use for a considerable time.

Police are working to establish how the fire started.

Fire station commander James McAllister praised the fast response of the police and fire crews.

“Within minutes they had got the fire on the roof of the church out,” he said.

“The breathing apparatus teams were faced with intense heat. But because of the speed of the response from the crews, there has been a limitation to the damage.”


President Higgins Officially Re-Opens National Maritime Museum of Ireland
Afloat – President Michael D. Higgins officially performed the reopening ceremony of the €4m restored National Maritime Museum of Ireland in Dun Laoghaire today, reports Jehan Ashmore.

An ecumenical service was held by Canon Victor Stacey, Dean of St. Patrick’s Cathedral Dublin, who up until recently was Minister at Christ Church & Mariners in Dun Laoghaire. The Dean was also joined by the town’s Rev. Christopher Kennedy from the York Road Presbyterian Church and Mons. Dan O’Connor, Parish Priest of St. Michaels Church.
Follwing the blessing, the President spoke of his admiration for the beautiful building and of those many people over the years that helped to establish the Maritime Institute of Ireland (M.I.I.) and its museum through it many functions and role in the coastal town.
In particular the President paid tribute to the late Dr. John de Courcy Ireland, who was a prominent member of the M.I.I. and was made honorary research officer of the institute which was formed in 1941. It was in that same year that the President remarked was the year of his birth.


Armagh parish’s Jubilee service
St Michael & All Angels’ Church, Castlecaulfield, was the venue for a local Service of Thanksgiving and Celebration for the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty the Queen on Tuesday 5th June. The event was organised and hosted by the parishes of Castlecaulfield and Donaghmore (Donaghmore & Donaghmore Upper, Diocese of Armagh) for the local community, and people came from far and wide to join the celebrations on what was a joyous occasion. The Lord Lieutenant was represented by Geraldine Eastwood, Deputy Lieutenant of the County of Tyrone.

The service was conducted by the rector, the Revd Dr Peter Thompson, assisted by Alan Willamson (parish reader). The preacher was the Very Revd Gregory Dunstan, the Dean of Armagh. The parish choir, accompanied by organist Anne Greenaway performed a selection of music with royal connections.

Each person present was presented with a Diamond Jubilee commemorative New Testament, bearing the royal arms, and on which is inscribed the words: “A bible was given to The Queen at Her Majesty’’s Coronation. It was described as the world’s most valuable gift. The churches in this land are giving you this gift to mark Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee”.

Each of the hymns represented significant events in the life of the Queen: “Praise my soul the king of heaven” was sung at her wedding, “All people that on earth do dwell” at her coronation, “O Christ the same”, and “He who would valient be” both at her Golden Jubilee celebrations in 2002.

Echoes of church teachings resonate loudly
Irish Times – Some of it we hardly notice: the Angelus bells, the hospital wards named after saintly figures, the crucifixes in the classrooms. They are so much a part of Irish life that they seem to fade into the background. But apart from religious names and iconography, what real and meaningful influence does the Catholic Church have on society today?

On one level, the church is undergoing hard times. Numbers attending Mass are falling, with fewer than one in five Catholics in Dublin attending. The number of vocations has slowed to a trickle. The institution’s reputation as a moral guardian has been battered relentlessly by revelations of clerical child sex abuse and cover-ups.

But on another level, despite several decades of social and moral upheaval, the church retains a great deal of residual power and influence in society. Nine out of 10 of the 3,129 primary schools are controlled by the church under a patronage system introduced 180 years ago. Many of the State’s largest publicly funded hospitals are owned or controlled by Catholic religious orders such as the Sisters of Mercy or the Religious Sisters of Charit


Canadian view – Why the Catholic Church is losing ground in Ireland
Macleans.ca –  An Irish deputy prime minister calling for the resignation of a Roman Catholic cardinal—the Primate of All Ireland, no less—would have been literally unthinkable not long ago. The Church …

Irish Church shows signs of renewal
CathNews – Ireland’s Catholic Church, host of the upcoming International Eucharistic Congress, has suffered a dramatic loss of credibility in recent years, but also shows signs of renewal after a decade of turbulence, reports the Catholic News Service.