Saint Bernadette’s Parish, Belfast, celebrated the re-opening of their church on Sunday 29 May with concelebration of Mass by Bishop Noel Treanor, Bishop of Down and Connor, Bishop Emeritus Anthony Farquhar and Parish Priest, Father Paul Armstrong.
The church can accommodate up to 1,200 people, making one of the largest churches in the diocese. This renovation marks a major event in the history of the Parish as it approaches the celebrations of the 50th Anniversary of the building of the church in 1967.
Bishop Farquhar preached the Homily during the celebrations and described how he remembered the turning of the first sod when building work first commenced on the church in September 1965 and the Church being opened several years later in 1967.
Speaking of the resilience and faithfulness of the parishioners of Saint Bernadette’s, Bishop Farquhar commented, “I remember how this church continued to be a spiritual presence on this road in very difficult times. This was at a time when unplanned demographic changes were taking part in this city, and we did not escape in this parish. They were indeed difficult times.”
Bishop Treanor described the ongoing vibrant pastoral and spiritual parish life of Saint Bernadette’s as “another green shoot and a sign of faith in the changing world” and commended the heroic efforts of this local parish: “Sometimes we can consider that this is a lonely time for faith, a time that is not too friendly for religious belief. Yet here we are in this Church, with all the energy of the Parish, where you have achieved this work of which you ought to be rightly proud.”
The current project, carried out by local architects, Kennedy & Fitzgerald, involved the replacement of all of the main dalle de verre panels, reusing over 25,000 pieces of solid-coloured glass. The project also included improved access and facilities for disabled users, new bespoke Nave and Altar furniture, pew and kneeler refurbishment, Baptismal Font relocation, thermal improvements, replacement of existing flat roofs and minor external works