Tuesday, 16 October, 2018  
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#RedWednesday, 22nd November 2017. Last year Aid to the Church in Need launched
#RedWednesday, a campaign to stand up for faith and freedom,to promote awareness of
and solidarity with persecuted Christians, and to shinea light on the discrimi
nation andviolence faced by millions of Christians around theworld.
#RedWednesday saw many landmarks worldwide(including St. Patrick’s and St. Brigid’s Parish
Church, Ballycastle) illuminated in red.
For photographs from #RedWednesday see below







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Formal Opening of the New Access to the Crypt

 by Bishop Treanor on Saturday 17th June 2017































New lighting at the front of St Patrick's & St Brigid's Church after the recent works.









 Rathlin Church Renovation.

The Heritage Lottery Fund grant acquired toward the expense of the work on the church on Rathlin stipulated that the scope of works be as follows:

Existing slate roof to be repaired including replacing cracked slates.  Ridge tiles to be re-set.

Plant growth to be removed from the roof and walls.

Lead flashings to be replaced at the parapet walls.

Monopitch roof over sacristy to be replaced.

Cast iron gutters and downpipes to be restored in some areas and renewed to match existing in other areas.

Two stone crosses at the gable apexes to be reset.

Parapet wall capping stones to be reappointed.  End stone to be reset.

Excessively weathered sandstone quoins to door and window reveals to be cut out and replaced with new sandstone quoins.

Existing bell to be refurbished.

Drain to be installed around the base of the external walls.

Storm glazing to be removed.

Leaded glass to be restored.

Loose plaster to be removed from internal walls and replastered in a lime plaster.

Internal walls & ceiling to be repainted.

New universal toilet to be constructed off the entrance porch.






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Readings : 1 Sm 16.6-7, 10-13; Ps 22 ; Eph 5.8-14; Jn 9.1-41

My dear Sister and Brothers in Jesus Christ, it is a joy to join you on this beautiful day, an historic day in the annals of your beloved Rathlin, when we re-open your Church. I wish to compliment all who have initiated, planned and brought the repairs to completion. I know Fr Brian Daly, your Parish Priest, will thank all – architect, contractor, workers, the Heritage Lottery, parishioners and members of the parish Finance Committee – who have given their expertise, time and support over almost half a year to bring the Church to its present edifying splendour.

I Of gospel language and symbolic actions : earth, spittle, clay paste, waters of Siloam and new sight

Today, on this Laetare Sunday, the Sunday for rejoicing at Lenten mid-point, as we re-open this Church, dedicated to the Immaculate Conception, we have heard once again this beautiful and evocative extract from chapter 9 of the gospel according to St John. The encounter between Jesus and the man born blind features various people and types of everyman – the blind man himself, Jesus, the disciples, the Pharisees, the blind man’s parents. These dramatis personae transcend race and faith : they are everyman and everywoman !

The scenario itself is written against the background of the experience of the life, and then of the death and resurrection of Jesus. The text is charged with evocative actions and references from Jewish religious experience and tradition which set Jesus of Nazareth in the continuum of salvation history and now reveal him by his action and word as the incarnate Son of God and as Saviour.

With its earthy reference to clay, spittle, clay paste applied to sightless eye, the pool of Siloam, and the playful literary discourses on night and day, darkness and light, blindness and sight this gospel text opens our imaginations and minds to the restorative capacity and power of faith in Jesus Christ as Son of God and Son of Mary, to whom this Church is dedicated.

The author of this gospel is thus presenting Jesus, the risen Christ, as the source of the new creation. Jesus is portrayed as the divine and personal initiator/creator of new life and of a new vision on the world, humanity and history.

Encounter with this Christ – the Word of God, as this same gospel of John names him - undoes the scales of spiritual blindness, puts the weight of the inherited past into a new perspective of grace and offers a new hope-filled vision of self, life and the world.

This Church, now repaired, is a space, open to all, where in silence and in the celebration of the liturgy, parishioner and visitor are invited to encounter this same Christ, the personal and living Word of God and personal source of the grace of hope and salvation.

II The Word of God and Christian tradition

As we re-open this Church we are mindful that this historic and island congregation, like our local Church in this diocese of Down and Connor, constitutes a living cell of the universal Church. We are a living cell of the family of peoples who make up the Church and the entire Christian people throughout the world and in the continuum of human history.

Throughout the centuries here on Rathlin, as you know, parishioners have gathered in prayer and worship and thus were enlivened and renewed in faith and grace, as we are in our time by celebrating the sacred liturgy, the sacraments and taking part in popular devotions, such as pilgrimages.

The island dominated a strategic location for seafarers and was therefore on the communication highway of the western world of the early centuries. So it does not surprise that your topography and landscape lays claim to significant visitors and to monastic sites, the centres of excellence of their time.

Oral tradition, or perhaps aspirational memory, has it that St Patrick or one of his disciples passed here, whence the local townland of Kilpatrick. Visits by St Columcille, who left Derry for Iona in 563, to settle disputes also form part of local lore – and indeed a certain credibility may be ascribed to them, for monks and the location of monastic settlements were often guarantors of settlements, mediators in our contemporary parlance. St Comghall too, famous abbot of Bangor, tried to establish a Church, or a monastic settlement, on Rathlin and it is claimed that he did so on the occasion of his second visit in 580, around the time St Columbanus departed Bangor with his followers for the European continent on his peregrinatio pro Christo. This of course links Rathlin with the famous Bangor, home of the Antiphonary of Bangor, Bangor of the famous monastic rule (Benchuir bona regula[1]) and abbey school, ultimate source of the radiation of Columbanian monasticism in present day France[2]. In the following century, in 635, Segene, abbot of Iona, established a Church here as Rathlin came under the care of Iona. In summary, the island, it is said, boasts a number of monastic sites : Cill Bhride at Ballygill, Cill na Bhruain in Knockans, where the monk or saint’s seat is still visible, Cill na Bhruain in Carrivindoon, and Kilpatrick with the main St Comghall’s monastic settlement having been on the site of St Thomas Church of Ireland[3]. None of this should surprise us for the seas and waterways were the highways of communication, commerce, and for the spread of ideas, skills, culture and religious faith in those bygone ages.

Oral tradition and records also recall that the people of Rathlin met for Mass in various locations, including in the shade of an overhanging rock at Ballynagarad, at a large stone in Kilpatrick, in a hollow called Lag an Sassanach[4] and in this spot, the site of an old mill (part of its wall still visible opposite the northern wall of the Church) purchased from Robert Gage (whose great-great grandson, Commander Peter Campbell, has graced us with his presence today) by a Mr Alexander McDonnell in or around 1816 and converted into a Church which was replaced by this present structure opened and dedicated by Bishop Patrick Dorrian in 1865[5] and renovated in 1989.

As an island community, and one rightly proud of its traditions, Rathlin, like all parishes, is a cell of living Christian faith. Like every parish, and Christian community and congregation, Rathlin’s parishioners are a vital constituent of the Christian presence throughout the world.

As part of that global mosaic, each local constituent reflecting the particularities of local culture, history and identity, we all have a shared responsibility for the vitality and concrete impact of the gospel, its values and vision, on our time, on its public narratives as it shapes fundamental policy choices.

We are all invited, in the words of the second reading from the letter to the Ephesians, to “be like children of the light, for the effects of light are seen in complete goodness and right living and truth” (Eph 5. 8-9). Christians, those who cast the light of the gospel on history, do not just happen : they are shaped, formed, enlightened by former generations in family and community life. Ours it is, our responsibility before God and human history it is, to shape and foster the Christians of tomorrow.

III From local community at worship to God’s presence in the world

A moment and event such as this re-opening may seem utterly local and even isolated at first view. And in terms of immediate experience it is !

At the same time, no man is an island ! And for all the lore concerning the Charybdis Brecani, Sloch na mara, the conflux of the different seas on Rathlin’s shores, that have made access difficult for those who do not know these local tides, today Rathlin, like ourselves, is part of a world and of a society which, for all the achievements of modernity, is now searching for, indeed sometimes screaming for, ultimate meaning, purpose and hope. Living in the world-wide-web we cannot escape the questions and challenges of human existence in our times.

If the narrative of atheism, which made a remarkable ascent in public discourse in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, has finally disappointed and left many unsatisfied intellectually and spiritually, its collateral impact has diluted the public appreciation and mastery of the Christian heritage as well as the language, grammar and vocabulary of the Christian faith tradition.

We live in a spiritually arid time and culture, in a culture and time in need of a catechetical irrigation for child, youth and adult. Like the blind man in today’s gospel text (Jn 9.1 – 41), we stand in need of new, or at least, renewed religious sight. It is heartening therefore to see and hear of the many faith-formation projects and initiatives, from GIFT for our youth to the many adult education initiatives in our parishes, and the preparatory catechesis for the August 2018 World Meeting of Families. Such initiatives involving gathering in community, exploring together faith in Christ, the Christian tradition through the ages in its ups and downs, prayer and worship, are the stuff of living and sharing the Good News. They provide contexts in which we deepen and energise our appreciation and understanding of our faith.

Such deepened and renewed understanding of the gospel energises and strengthens us in the public expression of faith. In this context it is again heartening to see the countless faith-inspired initiatives supported by our young people, whether in the form of the diocesan Youth Lourdes Team, Habitat for Humanity, support for Trocaire, to mention but a few.

In similar vein it is good to recall on an occasion like this all the faith-inspired voluntary work generated by thousands in our diocese, as in other dioceses in Ireland and around the world. How cold, uncaring and impoverished a place the world would be but for the massive volume of Christian charity, known and unknown, that abounds year in year out! To speak of this reality of charity and faith-inspired voluntary work in home, shop, pub, or hotel, now and then, or particularly when necessary, harrows and irrigates the soil of a living Christian faith.

This weekend marks the sixtieth anniversary of the treaty of Rome and the signing of the treaties which instituted the European Economic Community and the European Atomic Energy Community. These treaties marked a step taken by courageous political leaders, keenly aware of the risk of the trust they made in each other as former enemies, yet imbued with a steely determination to forge together the common good for generations to come. Of their initiative, when speaking to the Heads of State and Government of the Member States of the European Union on Friday past, 24 March 2017, Pope Francis said :

“ I have devoted this first part of my talk to the founding fathers of Europe, so that we can be challenged by their words, the timeliness of their thinking, their impassioned pursuit of the common good, their certainty of sharing in a work greater than themselves, and the breadth of the ideals that inspired them. Their common denominator was the spirit of service, joined to passion for politics and the consciousness that “at the origin of European civilisation there is Christianity” (12), without which the Western values of dignity, freedom and justice would prove largely incomprehensible .... ”[6]

Today, sixty years later in the ebb and flow of human history and of our civilisation and societies movements, we stand in urgent need of that same political ingenuity and restorative faith in humanity at local level here in Northern Ireland, in Europe at the level of our weakened institutions of global governance.

In this address Pope Francis remarked that “those who govern are charged with discerning the paths of hope “ and indicated five vectors for such leadership for Europe and its societies today. At the heart of his speech, which is well worth reading, there is the elucidation of the link between faith in the person of Christ, the Christian heritage and hope for humanity.

His remarks and the citations from the founding figures of the European project remind us of the fact that the gospel, faith in Jesus of Nazareth as Son of God, and a critical understanding of the Christian heritage, irrigate and fuel an untiring quest for God and the things of God (1 Cor 2.11 – literally, the deep things of God) and for the work of justice, solidarity and peace in human time and history. They and the things of God ennoble our humanity. Without them our existence in partially achieved only.

Today we pray that this Church, now repaired and renewed, will continue to offer an oasis where thirst of God and knowledge of Jesus Christ and faith-inspired contribution to society will grow and be fostered.





Accord Counselling Services

Accord provides a counselling service for any couple who may be experiencing difficulties or challenges in their relationship. We also offer pre marriage courses for all couples preparing for marriage, with a comprehensive programme delivered by trained facilitators. The Ballymena Centre is situated in All Saints Parish Centre, 9 Cushendall Road, Ballymena.The Coleraine Centre is situated in St Malachy’sParish Centre, 72 Nursery Avenue, Coleraine. (  02890339944. * This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it




The Parish Bingo continues every Friday evening in the McAlister Hall at 8.30pm sharp. There is £1,770 in prize money available every week. The normal game offers £20 a line, £50 for a house. The 6th game pays £30 a line, £80 a house. The 11th game pays £30 a line, £200 a house, but £1,000 if you check for a house on52 numbers or less on 9th June 2017. Each week this number will increase by one. However, should the £1,000 be won, the check will revert the following week to 45 numbers.






















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