Collon Church marks 150 years
The one thing that endears Archbishop Eamon Martin to many people is his humbleness. When he stood on the altar of the Church of Mary Immaculate, Collon, last Thursday night, you could sense he felt the presence of generations around him.
Exactly 150 years ago to the very moment, October 24 1869, Archbishop Paul Cullen of Dublin stood on the same spot and declared the church consecrated.
For Eamon Martin, it was special to follow in his footsteps all these years later.
'In 1869, the Church in Ireland was beginning to get back on its feet after centuries of persecution,' he stated.
'It must have been a great celebration for your ancestors.'
At the time, schools were re-opening, and parishes were renewed and young people were becoming priests and nuns.
'Today, perhaps we are in a time when the Church is beginning to fade. The number of vocations are in decline and we won't have a priest in every parish. We are starting to close churches,. not open them,' he stated.
But he said he dreams of a 'missionary impulse' - something heralded by Pope Francis in recent years - that will renew interest in the Church again.
Fr Peter Murphy, PP, said he had a great sense of 'joy and pride' about the celebrations in Collon and thanked everyone for the role they played in organising the event.
Michael Reid and Seamus Roe compiled a wonderful history of the church and it was sold on the night as part of a great evening in Mattock Rangers. 'It is superb, something we can all treasure,' Fr Murphy stated.
He said much had changed down the years, but 'the church was still dear to the people of Collon.'
The celebration mass showed off the Collon community to its best with the church choir and the school choir excelling, with standing room only on the night.