Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has announced the successful merger of three Dublin parishes into one with more expected in 2019.
More than three years of local planning and consultation has resulted in the establishment of the new Parish of St. Pappin’s in Ballymun, incorporating the former parishes of Shangan, Balcurris and Sillogue.
Priests in the new Parish said they had “overwhelmingly positive support” for the move.
The announcement comes as another Dublin Parish Church begins a new future today when Archbishop Martin joins Cardinal George Alancherry for the inauguration of the new Irish headquarters of the Syro-Malabar Church in the Church Lady of the Rosary of Fatima, in Rialto. The Syro Malabar Catholic Church is in full communion with the Catholic Church, with five million followers worldwide. Originating in Kerala in India, it has around 4,000 followers in Dublin alone. The Syro Malabar Community will share use of the Church for worship with Rialto Parish and will be using the newly named St. Thomas’ Pastoral centre for other activities.
In Ballymun, all three Churches of the former Parishes will continue to be in use; the Church of the Holy Spirit, Sillogue Road, which will be the primary Church of the Parish, as well as the Church of the Virgin Mary, Shangan Road and St. Joseph’s in Balcurris. All three are within 1.5km of each other.
The Diocese is providing financial support towards upgrading work on St. Joseph’s and the Virgin Mary Church with over €100,000 spent to date on both. At the same time, the former Presbytery at St. Joseph’s is being renovated and turned into a new Parish Pastoral Centre at an estimated cost of €250,000. The new centre will have a small Oratory where people can gather for prayer and reflection. It is envisaged that the Parish of St. Pappin’s will also use this space as a resource for pastoral outreach and community support, especially for those in the community struggling with mental health, bereavement or addiction issues. Three priests, Fr. Declan Blake, Fr. Ciaran Enright and Fr. Anthony Omolade will run the new Parish.
The amalgamation effectively began in October 2016 when the religious order, the Columbans returned the running of the parish of Balcurris to the Archdiocese. The Columbans carried out extraordinary outreach in the area during their time there, spanning over 40 years. At Mass of Farewell at that time, Archbishop Martin assured parishioners that St. Joseph’s would be kept open saying; “This is a turning point in the history of the Catholic community of Ballymun. Ballymun is a community, which encountered much suffering. It is a community, which was victim of many promises made, but never fulfilled. It is a community, which on many occasions must have felt abandoned. It was, however, a community, which never gave up. It is a community, which did so much for its children and young people exposed to pressures of drugs and violence. The community can be proud of its schools and indeed can be proud of its children.”
So began a process of bringing three congregations and parish pastoral councils together, beginning with the Easter Vigil in the Holy Spirit Church last year. The Church was full and parishioners gave very positive feedback, saying they found the new direction encouraging and hopeful. Throughout 2017, they came together for Advent and Lenten reflection evenings, Reconciliation Services and Reflection Days for those involved in various Ministries in the three churches as well as Child Safeguarding Representatives.
At the start of this year, the proposed amalgamation was discussed with all three Parish Pastoral Councils and there was broad support for the proposal. In May, parishioners across all three parishes were fully briefed on what was being planned and again there was a really positive response and local support for the merger.
Fr. Declan Blake, of St. Pappin’s Parish, said they were now looking to the future with confidence. “The gatherings of the faithful from the three Churches as one parish community has been encouraging and life giving and we expect the new parish will enable us to deepen this sense of belonging and worshipping together. We also want to reach out to the young people of our parish in every possible way. The youth from the three parishes are in school together and the new Parish Pastoral Centre opens up to us possibilities in the areas of faith development and pastoral care of young people.”
The amalgamation now leaves the total number of parishes in the Archdiocese of Dublin at 197 with further mergers expected next year.