Father Micheal McGavigan enjoying his first Christmas in Carnhill parish

Father Michael McGavigan.
Father Michael McGavigan.

Fr Micheal McGavigan from Derry was only ordained a priest on June 16 this year.

After his year as a deacon in which he ministered in Dungiven, in St Columb’s College as chaplain and the Parish of the Three Patrons, he was assigned to St Brigid’s Church, Carnhill in October.

“I suppose I was a bit surprised to be somewhere on my own.

“But I’m not really on my own, I live in the house myself but there are two other priests in the parish. The parish priest, Fr Michael McCaughey, is in charge.”

So how has Fr McGavigan adjusted to life in St. Brigid’s?

“It’s just getting into a routine. A routine of being a priest, first of all in terms of saying Mass everyday and being on call and hearing Confessions. That’s really what the ministry is about.

“Going into the schools, meeting the children who are making First Holy Communion and Confirmation, keeping up the chaplaincy in St Columb’s, and visiting the sick every month.

“It’s enjoyable. And of course getting ready for Christmas and all the celebrations.”

Fr Mc Gavigan will be able to celebrate with his family on Christmas Day,

“On Christmas Eve we have two vigil Masses here, one at 6pm and one at 9pm.

“This is my first year saying Christmas Masses here and everyone tells me they’re packed. “It will be nice and exciting and everybody’s in good spirits.

“On Christmas morning I have Mass at 10.30am and 12.30pm and after that assuming nobody is sick or anything I will go over home.

“I will have dinner with my mother and father and my sister.

“My brother and his wife and my wee nephew are coming back too, they work in the Middle East.

“There’s always someone on call in the parish in case of an emergency, so I will be on call until 6 o’clock in the evening, and the parish priest takes it then for night time. I can be here in a couple of minutes. If you’re called you’re called.

“I’m looking forward to Christmas Day and the celebrations.

“There’s been lots of Penitential Services in the different churches and the schools, getting all the children to the sacrament of Confession and offering the sacrament around the parishes. Then there’s the carol services and nativity plays, good fun, good spirits. Getting prepared for the real meaning of Christmas. Busy, but enjoyable busy.

“Because we say Mass everyday and preach at the weekend and our own prayers and own readings it’s all very focused on waiting and expecting the birth of Jesus in our lives. Because the readings, and Mass and liturgy speak to us of the coming of Christmas it is the main focus of our day...

“To offer Mass on Christmas Day for so many people here in Carnhill is a privilege, to be part of their lives on that important day... We all gather together, just for forty-five minutes or an hour to say this is the real meaning of Christmas. To share that with so many people and to be part of it in such a privileged way is an honour.

“I’m looking forward to it because it’s my first Christmas in a parish, to have a busy parish and a lively parish, to be part of that is great.

“The people here organise so much, the choir has been practising, and the altar servers, the sacristan has the crib up and the tree’s up, everything comes together.”