175 years on the Dublin church that is thriving

ANNIVERSARY: US channel CBS attends Cabinteely celebrationsFAITH: TDs Mary Mitchell O'Connor and Peter Mathews, far left, joined parishioners and Cabinteely's renowned Gospel Choir, above. Below, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, Fr Arthur O'Neill and Fr Tom O'Keeffe with mass servers. Below left, Fr Arthur attends to plans for the Special Mass.

Geraldine Gittens

IN 1836, Cabinteely Church was built to cater for a small village population of just 350 worshipers. Now, some 175 years later, the church caters for as many as 3,000 worshippers.

To mark the anniversary of the suburban church's founding, there was a huge turnout last night for a special Mass celebrated by a former curate here, Archbishop Diarmaid Martin.

Here's a parish that's thriving and appeals to young Massgoers. Parish Priest Fr Arthur O'Neill explains the acclaimed Cabinteely Gospel Choir is one of the things that helps attract younger parishioners.

Fr Tom O'Keeffe, who was parish priest for 20 years, said the community is very strong, and locals packed into the church to celebrate 175 years

"It's a very historic occasion for us. It's a community celebration, and since there are so many negatives about at the moment it's nice to have something to celebrate.

"It's a very strong community whose roots go back a long time in the parish, through families."

Film crews from US channel CBS's 60 Minutes programme gathered to hear Dr Martin, who was curate at the church from 1973 to 1974, describe the parish's history.

"It is hard to imagine what life was like here in Cabinteely 175 years ago.

"What sort of community of Cabinteely existed at the time? Why was it that in the very first years after Catholic Emancipation the Cabinteely community desired to be one of the first local Catholic communities to have its own proper Church, way ahead of the other neighbouring communities.

"Anyone can see still today that their ambition was to build a Church that would last."

A diverse range of Masses take place every weekend, including the Taize Mass which is a more reflective Mass at 4.30pm every Sunday, and a family oriented Mass every Sunday at 11.30am.

Fr O'Neill added: "We're very lucky. We've a very good gospel choir which has brought out CDs and sang at the National Concert Hall, and they sing at 12.30 Mass every Sunday. And they've been bringing a lot of young people to the Mass for the last eight or nine years."

Fine Gael TDs Mary Mitchell O'Connor and Peter Mathews attended the service.

Ms Mitchell O'Connor told the Herald: "It's a vibrant community where parishioners get involved. We have priests who are interested in human lives."