As we come to Christmas it is a good time to look back and reflect on what was a very special year in our parish. We celebrated the centenary of our parish church St. Cronan’s. We had some lovely events to mark the occasion – the Palm Sunday walk from the Blessed Well, the Centenary Mass with Archbishop Neary on May 27th, the family day on the grounds of the Secondary School, the talk on the windows and the talk on the influence on early Irish Christianity. They were all significant events and I thank all who participated in them.
In Belcarra we had the celebration in St. Anne’s to mark the centenary of the Society of St. Columban, co-founded by our native son Fr. John Blowick. Again it was a wonderful occasion when we welcomed Columban Fathers that have served in many different countries. Truly inspirational men.
The year saw Balla win the Pride of Place National Award. Our footballers won the County Junior title and the wonderful new playground opened in Belcarra. These are just some of the highlights of the year which demonstrate that our parish community is alive and well.
As in other years there were many happy family events to celebrate, births, baptisms, First Communions, Confirmations, marriages, significant anniversaries and we have a centenarian in the parish. Many happy events. Sadly there were the sad happenings also, illness and death visited many families throughout the year. I congratulate those who have had the happy events and offer sympathy and prayerful support to those who have had to endure bereavement, sickness or any other personal difficulty.
As the Christmas season comes upon us, I would like to thank all who are involved in any parish ministry or voluntary organisation within the community. It is your generosity that enables our parish and community to be as strong and active as they are. A parish or a community is nothing without its people. I thank you all for your help and support to me over the year and I pray the blessings of the Christ child on you and yours this Christmas. I extend Christmas greetings to all from Balla, Belcarra, Clogher and Manulla and to all our emigrants at this time. May the Holy Family of Jesus Mary and Joseph guide and support you all now and in the years ahead.