St Cronan’s

Belcarra Church Newsletter 14th January 2018

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Fr Denis’ Christmas Message

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Christmas Message

As we prepare to celebrate the Feast of Christmas I would like to express my thanks to all in the parish for your support and kindness throughout the year. A particular word of thanks to all who are involved in parish committees and liturgical ministry.  Thanks to all who care for St. Cronan’s and St. Anne’s and their grounds. It is only because of your involvement that our parish can function. Long gone are the days when the priest can do it on his own.


I congratulate all who had joyful celebrations during the year. To those who have had a bereavement and to all who are sick or facing any particular challenge in life.


I assure you of a special place in our Christmas Masses. I also wish to remember our emigrants. Wherever you are this Christmas I am sure that your thoughts are with us here in Balla, Belcarra, Clogher and Manulla. I assure you that as we celebrate this special season you are remembered at ceremonies at both St. Cronan’s and St. Anne’s. I extend our good wishes to you in whatever part of the world you now reside.


Next year will be a very significant year in our parish. We will mark the centenary of St. Cronan’s on Sunday May 27th when Archbishop Neary will join us. Other events will also take place during the year. At the moment the church is undergoing renovations. While work was taking place on the main altar window it was noticed that water was engressing the gable wall. This would eventually undermine the building. We are currently working on that gable. The work consists of raking out every joint and repointing it. The coping stones on top have also had to be removed and new leading put in. It is very slow and costly work.


I take this opportunity to thank all those who are contributing a little extra in their Weekly Envelope and also those who have made specific donations. It is this generosity that is allowing the work to take place. All donations no matter how big or small are welcome. When that phase of the work is done we will have to put a plan in place for the remainder of the building.


In October we will celebrate the centenary of The Columban Fathers. On October 28th a celebration marking this great event will take place in St. Anne’s recognising the fact that one of the co-founders was Fr. John Blowick. This should be a very special celebration. We can take great pride in what Fr. John did in the true missionary spirit of the Gospel. So please God we have much to look forward to in 2018.


In the meantime, I take this opportunity to wish you and yours a happy and peaceful Christmas. May the Lord pour down abundant blessings on you all.

Fr Denis








December update on works at St Cronan’s

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church 4WORK ON THE CHURCH is continuing. Most of the raking out of the joints is now done. It is very slow work – as particularly it has revealed that a lot of water has been trapped within the gable wall for some time. That water has to be removed before grouting and repointing begins. The coping stones at the top of the gable wall will be lifted off and all the damaged lead replaced. Our Architect is very happy with the work carried out. Again many thanks to all who are contributing extra in the weekly envelope and to the individuals, families and organisations that have made specific donations. It is this generosity that is enabling this essential work to take place.

Please click hereto see a fascinating up close and personal report where you will see images of the work in the December report to the parish.

Church Restoration update

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The raking out of all joints on the east gable has begun after permission was granted by the Mayo County Council Heritage Office. Some of the coping on the gable will be lifted to see if there is any water ingress there. This is very slow work.

When this is done the repointing will start and work on the window externally can commence. At the end of that work a full conservation plan for the entire church will have to be drawn up.

As the work progresses we will keep everyone one fully informed. A sincere thank you to allwho have increased their weekly contributions and to those who have made specific donations.

It is much appreciated I can assure you.

Sincere Thanks to Michael Durkan and John McEllin for their photos to keep us all updated on the fabulous work being done to preserve St Cronan’s for its next 100 years.

Conservation & Restoration Works

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Conservation and Restoration Works

As you are aware we will mark the centenary of this church next year. As I mentioned to you some months ago conservation and restoration work needs to be carried out on the main window over the altar here and also the toilet facilities in the sacristy need to be seriously upgraded with some renovation also needing to be carried out on the sacristy itself. The fire alarm system has to be upgraded to comply fully with insurance demands on a listed building.

The Parish Finance Committee over the last few months have been working away on these projects under the guidance of Michael Horan of Axo Architects in Castlebar and in close consultation with Siobhan Sexton, Heritage Officer with Mayo County Council. Because the building is listed we have to adhere to the stipulations of the Heritage Officer.

Today I have a mixture of good and bad news. Three companies were asked to tender for the work on the window and the reports that they gave us were very varied- you could say totally opposed to each other. The good news is that the window does not have to be taken out. The conservation and restoration work can be done on site over a period of about seven weeks (depending on the weather) about three weeks inside and four weeks outside. We have also been able to secure a saving on the cost of the window works. It will now cost €45,000. Still a substantial sum of money but considerably less than we had feared. The work will start in the next 10 days or so.

As you can see in the newsletter we are now starting the tendering process for the essential works in the sacristy and toilets. For those of you not familiar with the sacristy there is only one very small toilet with very basic facilities and at the time of weddings and funerals you can have people queuing up out the yard or indeed coming over to my house to use toilets. The sacristy itself needs some decorating and electrical works carried out.

I had mentioned that work to you when I spoke a few months ago but unfortunately we have received some bad news about the building itself. When the company that will be carrying out the work on the window Aria Stained Glass from Galway were surveying the window they noticed that water was getting into the gable through cracks in the pointing. After consulting with the Heritage Officer we had the entire building investigated by a qualified person and we have been told that the same thing is happening all around the church and that the only remedy is to re-point the entire structure.

As the conservation and renovation work begins on the altar window we pray that all will go well with this phase of the work. It will take about three weeks internally and then the work will move outside. It is at this stage that work on the pointing of the gable will begin.

Centenary of St Cronan’s Church, Balla

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Homily by Fr. Denis
on Sunday February 19th 2017

2018 marks the centenary of St. Cronan’s Church. Over the coming months both the Pastoral Council and Finance Committee will discuss how best the centenary can be celebrated. Today I would like to invite the views of you and all parishioners on that. If you have any suggestions on how we might mark the centenary please contact me and I will bring it to the discussions.

Everyone  agrees that St. Cronan’s is a beautiful church building. It was built in very difficult times.  It started in 1913 and was dedicated in May 1918. At that time the First World War was taking place. Yet despite  the difficulties of the time when money was scarce the people of the time spared no effort in building a very fine church which 100 years later we can be proud of.

Some years ago when renovations were being planned the Architect asked me what I would like to do. I told him that I would like to honour those who put it here. I would like to do that again next year as well as celebrating the faith that has been witnessed to in this building for the last 100 years and which please God will continue to be celebrated here for many years to come. I would also like to see the centenary celebration as an inclusive community event.

As regards the building itself some work needs to be carried out on it. The priority is the conservation of the beautiful window over the Mass altar that depicts the Crucifixion scene. The window now urgently needs attention and at the moment some companies who specialise in stained glass work are engaged in a tendering process. While I do not have exact figures I would expect it to be anything up to €80,000.  It is very specialised and detailed work that will take a number of months. Some works on upgrading the toilet facilities also needs to take place. That means money has to be spent and while we have money in the account we will need to do some fundraising.  Over the last 30 years very few demands have been made for funding for the church. It is a topic I do not like discussing but at this time I have to. Fundraising will have to take place over the coming year but it will not be major. I would hope that most people within the parish community will respond in a positive manner.

While not everyone comes to Mass virtually every family in the parish uses the church at some time or other for a Baptism, a First Communion, a Confirmation, a Marriage or a family Funeral.An appeal will be made to all, seeking help and please God many will contribute Also some families might like to make a particular donation and that too would be most welcome.

At this time the new boxes of envelopes for the coming year go out.  I would like to thank those who deliver them. I thank all of you who contribute week in and week out towards the upkeep of the church.  It is your continued support coupled with so much voluntary work that keeps our heads above water.  If any of you are in a position to put a little extra into your envelope it would be of enormous help. Every euro adds up.  I would also like to mention that I have a weekly envelope myself. I do not say that as self praise . I have a weekly income and therefore have a responsibility to do my bit in the same way as everyone else.

We have a church that we can be very proud of. I have every confidence that this community will respond to its needs at this time and over the coming months as plans for the renovations and the centenary develops I will keep you informed and if anyone would like to help in any way or make any suggestions please contact me.