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Tuesday 20 November 2018

Fitting legacy to Irish Dominicans

Over a period of 140 years the Dominican Fathers have laboured in the mission fields of the West Indies, most notably in Trinidad.During that time a number of Dominicans from the Dundalk area, including Fr. Kevin Mulligan, originally from the Avenue Road, Fr. Lavery, who was reared on the Ardee Road and most recently Fr. Aidan Farrelly from Ardee all worked at one time or another with communities in the Caribbean islands off the south east tip of North America.

Over a period of 140 years the Dominican Fathers have laboured in the mission fields of the West Indies, most notably in Trinidad.

During that time a number of Dominicans from the Dundalk area, including Fr. Kevin Mulligan, originally from the Avenue Road, Fr. Lavery, who was reared on the Ardee Road and most recently Fr. Aidan Farrelly from Ardee all worked at one time or another with communities in the Caribbean islands off the south east tip of North America.

That mantle has been taken up for over 20 years now by Fr. Tom Lawson from Pearse Park in Dundalk who is the Dominican Friars Regional Prior attached to St. Finbar’s Church in Diego Martin, Trinidad.

Last week Fr. Lawson was in Dundalk and spoke of the Dominicans work over 140 years in the West Indies and of his ambitious plans to build a Pastoral Centre costing ?2.5m. which he hopes will be a legacy to the many Irish born priests who have worked in the area over the years.

Recalling the arrival of the Dominicans in Port of Spain, Trinidad in 1863 Fr. Lawson said “since the first eight Dominican Friars arrived they have played a vital role in the development of religious education as they were entrusted with the majority of parishes and over the years established 133 primary schools in the archdiocese”.

It became the official policy of the Dominicans to establish a local church with its own priests serving the people of the nation in all parishes. They directed all aspirants to the priesthood towards the local seminary which was founded in 1943. When the fruits of this were well established the Dominicans began to look to other ways of preaching and teaching within the archdiocese and within the Caribbean region.

“We realised especially in latter years with declining vocations in Ireland that we would have to consolidate our efforts in Trinidad with the Dominican Sisters and the laity” said Fr. Lawson who added that the inclusion of a Dominican school within the Pastoral Centre will be the key to the success of the venture.

“In a way this Pastoral Centre to be named after St. Dominic our founder will be a legacy to the outstanding work that was undertaken over the years by many fine Irish Dominicans like Fr. Mulligan who during his time in Trinidad built a church in the community he served” said Fr. Lawson.

The cost of the centre, ?2.5m. would be too heavy a burden for the community in Trinidad to bear, and Fr. Lawson who is directly in charge of the project has been encouraged by the ?1m. donation he has received from the Irish Province in Tallaght. He is however looking for any support from his home town, or indeed any benefactor in Ireland to help out.

“Raising the shortfall of ?1.5m. in Trinidad will be extremely difficult and take a very long time” said Fr. Lawson adding “it is for that reason that I am appealing for funds from Ireland to help out. I have already tried to make contact with a number of people in the area who I know have helped out projects of this nature in the past and I am appealing to their generosity”.

The Centre will be built on the Dominican compound in Diego Martin and will include, a school with state of the art audio visual facilities, and there will also be accommodate for parish offices, meeting rooms, employment agency, medical clinic, legal aid assistance, facilities for St. Vincent de Paul, after school tutorial programmes and a soup kitchen.



Fr. Lawson can be contacted at St. Finbar’s Church, Morne Coco Road, Diego Martin, Trinadad.

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