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.
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.