Parishioners in Cranagh in the Glenelly Valley have been celebrating the centenary of St Patrick’s Church in Lower Badoney.
A series of commemorative ceremonies began with Fr Frank Bradley as guest speaker for the first Wednesday evening Mass. Fr Bradley has ancestral connections with the area being a native of St Mary’s, Rouskey, and recalled serving as a young altar boy.
Fr John Cargan was the guest speaker on the Thursday night and brought along an oak sapling which he suggested could be planted in the grounds of the Church to grow over the next 100 years. The sapling was carried up the church by grandparents and handed over to their grandchildren to signify the handing on of the faith to the next generation.
Fr Paul Farren was the guest speaker on the Friday night and he spoke about the importance of Confirmation and faith.
Each evening after Mass, an exhibition of materials, photographs and artefacts signifying life in the parish for the past 100 years was on display in the local hall. A commemorative book ‘Of Stone and Story’ was launched on the Thursday evening by Fr Donnelly PP, along with Colin Slack, the designer of the book and the centenary committee. It is now on sale. On Saturday, there was an open air Mass offered by Fr Donnelly PP for the dead on the site of the old graveyard and St Joseph’s Church. This concluded with a procession of the Blessed Sacrament from the site of the old church to the new St Patrick’s Church, just like the congregation did some 100 years earlier. Adoration took place in St Patrick’s Church for ten hours signifying the 10 decades of parish life and concluded with Benediction in the evening.
The Centenary celebrations concluded on the Sunday with a packed St Patrick’s Church with many of the congregation coming long distances including Australia, England and south of Ireland. The retired Auxiliary Bishop of Derry, Most Rev Francis Lagan was the main celebrant and was joined by Fr Declan Boland, Fr Francis Bradley, Fr Paul Farren, Mons Peter McBride and Fr Brian Donnelly PP.
Bishop Lagan said he was honoured to be present for the occasion. His uncle Fr James Lagan, had served in the parish from 1915 to 1922.
Fr Boland delivered the homily, saying there had been a church in the area since the time of St Patrick. The parish had a “rich Christian heritage, poised to meet the challenges and difficulties of this age with vigour..”