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PARISH ARCHIVE – 

  • HISTORY OF THE PARISH 1880 – 2007
  • CHRONICLE 1933 – 2015

HISTORY OF THE HOLY FAMILY PARISH 1880 – 2007

[Compiled by Paddy Scott RIP, Pat Carville RIP and Aideen D’Arcy]

A decision, prompted by deeply felt pastoral concern, made by Bishop Patrick McAlister, at his home in Chichester Park, Belfast, in the 1880’s, may justly claim to have laid the foundation of the development and social changes for the betterment of the Catholic community in North Belfast today.

The decision was to procure land in the Antrim Road district on which to build a chapel-of-ease to cater for the spiritual needs of the growing Catholic population, especially for the Catholic girls in domestic service in the big houses with extensive grounds, erected by prosperous merchants, newly rich businessmen who, either through marriage, industrial opportunism, government preferment or success in trade, enjoyed the affluence of Victorian Belfast. These mansions were on secluded sites “having the most desirable aspects and surroundings” in the fashionable and expanding Antrim Road, Fortwilliam Park, Cliftonville and Cavehill Roads.

The domestic servants, most of whom came from the country and working ‘upstairs-downstairs’ hours and conditions of the times, had great difficulty in getting to Mass on Sundays and Holydays of Obligation at St. Patrick’s in Donegall Street or St. Mary’s in Greencastle.

Bishop McAlister realised the position of workers and residents alike in a developing district when, at the age of sixty, he took up residence in ‘The Palace’, Chichester Park, Antrim Road, as successor to Dr. Patrick Dorrian, Bishop of Down and Connor, on March 28th 1886 – a vital year in the stormy history of Belfast. It was the worst year of sectarian and political riots in which ‘Home Rule – Rome Rule’ slogans were freely used by thumping politicians , lay and clerical, in what poet W.R. Rodgers called ‘their borborygmic roars of rhetoric’.

The new Bishop took up his Office having served for twenty years in Ballycastle as Parish Priest, and before that as a Curate in several Parishes in Connor and Down. Therefore he had vast pastoral and administrative experience and a tremendous vision for the future reorganisation of the Diocese. Within a year he established St. Patrick’s Orphan Society and the Association of the Apostleship of Prayer. He founded the Mater Hospital and helped set up The Irish News. He established independent Parishes in Holywood, Whitehouse and Ballyclare, and during his time the Sacred Heart and St. Brigid’s Churches were built. His last, and it is said ‘most special’ act as Bishop was, when his health was failing, to lay the foundation stone of The Holy Family “zinc” Church in Newington Avenue, on a cold October day in 1894.

He had set his heart on officially opening the first Church in Northern Ireland dedicated to ‘The Holy Family’ in compliance with the wishes of Pope Leo XIII who called for universal devotion to The Holy Family and on June 14th 1893 granted a new Office and Mass in honour of The Holy Family. But three days before the ailing Bishop was to open the new Church with Mass on Christmas morning, a hurricane swept the country leaving a trail of death and destruction. The Antrim Road suffered severely from the gale force winds which lashed the area for several hours and all but demolished the new Church. By the time the building was restored, Bishop McAlister was too ill to take part in the opening ceremony on St. Patrick’s Day 1895. He died nine days later on March 26th.

Seventeen years were to pass before the red brick Church at Newington, which replaced the original “zinc” building, was solemnly dedicated on Sunday, September 8th, 1912, by the then Bishop, Most Rev Dr John Tohill.

The opening of the new Church was recorded by one newspaper as follows: “The new edifice, one of the most beautiful in Ireland, was crowded with distinguished congregations, both morning and evening, and a magnificent response was made to the appeal for the completion of the building and equipment fund, with the result that on Sunday night, September 8th, the new Church was completely freed of debt”. (In addition to gifts totalling £2,000, £3,700 was collected in the city and the Diocese and £1,836 was realised in the collection at the Dedication Ceremony, thus the year’s fundraising campaign brought in a total of £7,541)!

“To Father McWilliams Adm. (later Archdeacon McWilliams, PP, Downpatrick), on the magnificent success of his work, to the Catholics of The Holy Family district in particular, and to all the faithful people of the Diocese of Down and Connor, the impressive proceedings of the day had a deep interest, and the remarkably successful completion of a great project for the advancement of religion will be hailed with general joy and satisfaction”.

The report went on to describe the new Church in these terms: “The new interior of the Church was a perfect revelation to all who saw it for the first time on Sunday morning. Complete in every detail, it is one of the most beautiful in the city, neither over-ornate nor unduly severe. The High Altar, side Altars, Communion rails, stained glass and woodwork all harmonise into a perfect vista as one enters the main door.”

The opening of the new Church did something else in addition to indicating the growing strength numerically of the Catholics in North Belfast. It also showed, in the names of the contributors at the Masses and Evening Devotions, an interesting social change in the emergence, rightfully, of Catholics in the professions, legislature, industry and commerce. This in itself was a tribute to the value of Catholic education by the primary schools, St. Malachy’s College, the Christian Brothers and the teaching orders of nuns. As an indication of the importance he placed in education, Father McWilliams, with the encouragement of Bishop Tohill, announced plans for the building of schools in the Church grounds to accommodate 400 pupils. These schools, it was reported, would be equipped with elementary science and cookery rooms.

By the time he left Holy Family, to take charge of Downpatrick Parish, in 1917, Father McWilliams had the satisfaction of knowing that, thanks to his efforts, the Parish he was leaving was on a sound footing – debt free, with schools capable of meeting the educational needs of children for generations to come and a magnificent Church for the worship of God.

This progress and steady growth was maintained during the 1920-22 pogrom, the 1935 riots and the building boom in the 1930’s when the north of the city spread up over the Cavehill Road, the Antrim Road, Ballysillan Road and the former exclusive parks opened their gates to new house owners with larger families.

It was at this time that the then Bishop of the Diocese, Most Rev Dr Daniel Mageean, decided to build a Church in the Chichester Park area, on the grounds of the former residence of the Bishop of Down and Connor, for the Catholic families who had moved into the district. But a restrictive covenant imposed by the landlord in the lease of the Bishop’s old residence in Chichester Park, made it impossible to build a Catholic Church or school there and a new site had to be found. It was decided to build in the grounds of the recently purchased Lanyon designed villa “Lisbreen”, on the Somerton Road. The freehold property cost £3,000.

Dr. Mageean made a passing reference to the restriction when he blessed the site for the new Church on Monday, 28th January, 1937. “We had great difficulty in getting a site. Thank God we have here a most beautiful one” he said.

During the construction of the Church of St. Thérèse, the dining room of “Lisbreen” was used as an Oratory in which all the parishioners were accommodated at two Masses and Benediction each Sunday.

The Church, which the Bishop described as “a beacon of light”, was opened in 1937. The building cost £12,000 and the furnishings £6,000. In 1950, a new side Chapel was added and the gallery extended, thus a congregation of 600 could be seated. In 1970 some minor renovations were carried out to allow for the interpretation of Vatican II recommendations concerning the celebration of Mass and also to accommodate young children and their parents. In 1938, “Lisbreen” became the official residence of the Bishops of Down and Connor Diocese.

The outbreak of war in 1939 was to make an impact on the Parish in a way few people could have envisaged. The “Blitz” of the early 1940’s caused death and destruction on a massive scale and Holy Family Parish did not escape unscathed.

The years immediately after 1945 were a time of consolidation in Holy Family as people adjusted to life in the post-war era. The austerity of the war years gave way to a new optimism and the 50’s saw significant developments in the educational field. Firstly, St. Patrick’s Intermediate School (Bearnageeha) was formally opened on Wednesday, 31st August, 1955. The school was constructed at a cost of approximately £250,000 and offered an enrolment to 800 boys.

Four years after the opening of ‘Bearnageeha’, the Little Flower Girls’ Secondary School was opened on 15th September, 1959, to cater for the post-primary girls from Holy Family, St. Patrick’s and St. Joseph’s Parishes. The school was built at a cost of £172,000, with an enrolment of 640 pupils.

The Congregation of Irish Dominican Sisters purchased the property “Walton” at 38 Fortwilliam Park, on 30th August, 1930. Almost immediately the Prioress, Sister Stanislaus Egan and six sisters took up residence there. It was at the request of His Lordship, Most Rev Dr Daniel Mageean, that these nuns opened a Commercial College for Catholic girls (15th September) and at the same time a Preparatory School. From the latter the present Dominican College developed, while the Commercial College was absorbed into Little Flower School. The contribution of each of these schools to the education of the girls and boys of Holy Family Parish is incalculable and we owe much gratitude to the generations of teachers who served so generously and tirelessly in each institution.

The early 1970’s presented the Priests and people of Holy Family Parish with more serious challenges and problems that were fraught with many dangers. The “Troubles” as they came to be known threatened the viability of a once peaceful neighbourhood. Street disorders, army raids, shootings and bombings had become so commonplace that an air of despair enveloped the Parish, drastically disrupting the lives of practically every family.

The Priests of Holy Family, who were struggling to cope with the many calls for help pouring into the Presbytery, decided that something positive must be done – and urgently. They invited the Rector of the Church of Ireland and the Minister of the Presbyterian Church in the area to join them in forming a Residents’ Committee. Representatives of each street in the Newington area were invited to join the Committee and weekly meetings were held in Holy Family School to which army personnel and representatives from the Community Relations Branch of the Police were invited – thus a forum for expressing the opinions and concerns of the local residents was established.

At these discussions the views of parents and young people were aired frankly and freely and with a sincerity that indicated clearly that they wanted to live in peace and to introduce an atmosphere of normality again to a respectable and industrious neighbourhood. It was this initiative that opened the door to better understanding and it is not an exaggeration to state that more than any other development, this particular forum saved the Newington district from total disintegration at that critical time.

Despite the violence and unrest which blighted the 1970’s Parish life still flourished. In January 1975, the entry in the Parish Record reported: “This is truly an important date in the history of Holy Family Parish. Following a Public Inquiry, a letter from the Department of Housing, Local Government and Planning arrived to grant outline planning permission for a new Church on the Cavehill Road. This letter ended a long and difficult fight to get permission to build a Church on the Cavehill Road.”

But the battle to secure a site for the new Church was to prove but a mild setback compared to the disappointments, and as yet unforeseen trials, that lay ahead. The first hint of trouble came on 25th January, 1978, when threatening graffiti appeared on the corrugated surround at the site of the new Church. In April of that year the doors and walls of St. Thérèse Church, Somerton Road, were daubed with Loyalist slogans. A minibus parked in the grounds was set on fire. The signs were indeed ominous and the worst fears were realised   just 18 months later when, at 4.20am on 22nd November, 1979, a 25lb bomb ripped through the almost completed Church of the Resurrection causing extensive damage which resulted in the Blessing and Dedication Ceremony, planned for 30th December, having to be postponed.

Writing in the Holy Family Magazine of December, 1979, Father Patrick McGarry, the then Administrator of Holy Family wrote: “As I stood on the Cavehill Road after I had examined the wanton devastation, I felt a terrible sense of emptiness. Many priests over the past twenty years had worked hard to find a suitable site to build a new Church in that area to facilitate the needs of the growing Catholic population. Now, as this deed was about to be fulfilled, a few sticks of gelignite blew it sky high. Despair would have been a natural reaction; bitterness very tempting; self-pity an easy way out. But help came from many quarters.

After referring to the many letters of support he received from all over Ireland, Father McGarry went on: “One thing I have learnt over the past week is the great solidarity that exists between the Priests and Religious of the Diocese of Down and Connor. The Catholics of North Belfast reacted as I expected they would – with charity and compassion. The Bishop was a tower of strength. Whatever the future holds we will continue the work of building the Church. We will pray that bitterness and hatred in our society will change to love and brotherhood and with our Holy Father Pope John Paul II, who blessed our Altar Stone, that violence in Ireland will cease and that all men will return once more to love God and their neighbour”.

As Father McGarry had pledged, work on the new Church continued and on Easter Sunday, 6th April, 1980, the efforts, courage and determination of all involved were rewarded when the splendid new edifice was solemnly dedicated and opened by the then Bishop, Most Rev Dr William Philbin in the presence of a huge congregation. It was indeed a most memorable occasion; the culmination of a dream that had come to fruition despite many setbacks and a tribute to the Priests and people of a Parish that has been a source of comfort, joy and inspiration to countless members of the faithful for over 100 years.

The beginning of the 3rd Millennium heralded another significant development in the life of the Parish. A Condition Report indicated that the structure of Holy Family – our Mother Church – was unsound. Hard decisions had to be taken. Father Emerson consulted with Diocesan bodies and Parishioners and it was agreed that Holy Family Church should be demolished and a new Church built on the site. The construction of the new Church is progressing well and we look forward with hope and excitement to the Dedication and Opening Ceremony, scheduled for 25th March, 2007. Ad multos annos.

PARISH CHRONICLE

The Parish Records for the years 1933 – 2015 provide a fascinating account of events and developments as recorded by the Priests who served in the Parish.

What follows is a selection from the Parish Chronicle.

February 1933

A branch of the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association was established in Holy Family Parish. Members enrolled at the opening meeting on Sunday February 26th 1933.

June 9th 1933

On this date “Lisbreen” 73-75 Somerton Road was purchased as a temporary Chapel of Ease pending the erection of the proposed new Church. Purchase price amounted to £3,646.

September 17th 1933

“Lisbreen” was formally opened as a Chapel of Ease and the first Mass was celebrated on Sunday 17th September by His Lordship Most Rev. Dr D Mageean.

November 26th 1933

Opening of the Girls’ Club, Chichester Park. Girls resident as domestic servants in the vicinity were urged to join the club where they could have safe surroundings and legitimate recreation. The members of the local branch of the Legion of Mary were asked to take charge. The club is open on Wednesday and Sunday afternoons.

July 18th 1935

At all public Masses today in Holy Family Church the Pastoral Letter of His Lordship the Bishop was read exhorting the faithful to join in united prayers for the peace of the city. People were requested to offer their Masses and Communions and pray earnestly for the restoration of peace and order in the city.

December 1935

“Rathcoole” – a valuable residence situated on Somerton Road was purchased at accost of £971-3s-2d. It is designed, according to the Bishop’s directions, to serve as a Presbytery for the clergy attached to “Lisbreen”.

May 17th 1936

A large representative contingent left Holy Family district for Drogheda by special trains today. They were joined by large numbers from other districts in the city – and all arrived in Drogheda to visit the Shrine of Blessed Oliver Plunkett.

January 1937

Blessing and laying of the foundation stone for the new Church of St. Thérèse at “Lisbreen”, Somerton Road, took place on Monday January 25th. The ceremony took place at 12 noon and was performed by His Lordship Dr Mageean.

September 1939

Germany invades Poland. Second World War declared. 

December 1940

The Civil Defence Authorities converted the Holy Family Boys’ School into a rest centre to be used by the people in case of an air raid. They built blast walls in the corridors and strengthened the various class halls. The hall was also taken over as a communal feeding centre.

April 1945

The Perpetual Novena Devotion was introduced into Holy Family Parish on Friday April 7th 1945. It was determined that the Novena will be held on Friday evenings at 7.30

April 1947

Estimates were received and approved for the installation of a new heating system in the Church – it is estimated that almost £2,000 will be required. Besides the erection of a new boiler house, it is now found that owing to the peculiar construction of the Church, the pipes will have to be placed underground which considerably increases the cost. 

December 1947

We finally got the boiler installed and contracted for a supply of fuel (coke), which we fortunately obtained. So on Christmas Day the first heat was turned on in the Church. 

March 1948

Mr John Byrne, a Parishioner, presented the Church with a new candelabra, which is now placed beside Our Lady’s Altar. It was a most generous gift indeed.

June 1948

His Lordship the Bishop made an announcement that the Law of Abstinence will come back into force again on Fridays from 1st November. It had been discontinued during the war years owing to the scarcity of meat, eggs, butter etc.

April 1950

Already the pilgrimages were beginning to go to Rome for Holy Year. On Friday 24th April Fr. Farry went on pilgrimage and returned on May 12th. In October, Fr. Brady went to Rome and in November Fr. Walls also went so that all three Priests of the Parish were in Rome this year. Many Parishioners also went in the various national pilgrimages.

November 1950

November 1st saw the Proclamation of the Dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin. Various pilgrimages from all over the world were present in St. Peter’s Square where the Pope solemnly proclaimed the Dogma after High Mass before 500,000 people.

June 1951

Fr. Farry approached the Bishop and got his approval to erect new Stations of the Cross. The cost was approximately £80 each. 

September 1951

In order to meet Parish expenses, the people were asked to increase their copper contributions at the door from 1d (penny) to 3d. The response was magnificent and we have had a 100% increase. The copper amount at Mass used to be £13 - £14 and now it is £25 - £27 per Sunday.

September 1952

Winter activities in the Parish have begun. The weekly dance on Sunday nights is now in full swing and is a great success. As well there is a cinema show on Sunday afternoons from 2pm until 6pm, then the hall is left ready for dancing. 

December 1952

It has been decided to begin repairs to the Church organ, a scheme long overdue. The Bishop has given his sanction and the contract price of £234 has been accepted.

February 1953

Coffey & Rooney have the organ renovated after one month’s work. It seems that the organ was in very bad need of this overhaul as it hadn’t been attended to for years. My information is that the organ is now worth £5,000 - £6,000.

November 6th 1953

A dreadful accident happened today at the building of the new intermediate school at Bearnageeha - a portion of the building fell, killing two workmen. 

July 1954

It was decided to remove the hedge surrounding the Presbytery and put in its place iron railings with a concrete foundation and plinth. It has made an immense improvement to the grounds generally. 

April 1955

We learned that it would be possible to open Bearnageeha in September and the task lay before the Governors of selecting a Principal, Vice-Principal and staff. From a very large number of applications, Mr Patrick O’Neill, MA, a member of Trench House staff was selected Principal. Mr William Steele, BA, was selected Vice-Principal. He formerly taught in St. Mary’s Grammar School. Seventeen fully qualified teachers were also selected. 

August 1955

St. Patrick’s Intermediate School (Bearnageeha) was formally opened on Wednesday 31st August. Solemn High Mass was celebrated by His Lordship the Bishop. The school was erected at a cost of roughly £250,000 and has accommodation for 800 pupils. 

May 1957

The contract for the building of the Girls’ Intermediate School (The Little Flower) situated at Somerton Road was signed by the four Governors. We hope the total cost will be under £155,000

September 1958

The Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes left in fine weather on Sunday, September 7th. We had hoped that His Lordship, Dr Mageean would accompany us but his medical advisor was against this journey and so Dr O’Doherty , Bishop of Dromore, took his place. We had a wonderful time at Lourdes and got all the facilities that were available. One thing of note – the plane carrying the sick on the return flight could not land at Nutt’s Corner owing to fog and had to touch down at London. 

September 1959

The formal opening of Little Flower Girls’ Intermediate School took place on September 10th, with Sister Domingo OP as Principal and Sister Aimée OP as Vice-Principal. The proceedings opened with High Mass in St. Thérèse at 11.00am presided over by His Lordship Most Rev Doctor Mageean. The total estimated cost of the new building was put at £172,000 

March 10th 1960

Owing to the indisposition of Dr Mageean, Most Rev Dr Eugene O’Doherty, Bishop of Dromore, administered the Sacrament of Confirmation in Holy family to 146 boys, 192 girls and 7 adults. 

May 1961

The first evening Mass was celebrated in Holy Family on May 1st – the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker. The Church was crowded. 

January 17th 1962

The death of His Lordship Most Rev Dr Mageean at his residence on Somerton Road is announced. His last visit to Holy Family was on December 19th when he presided at the Requiem Mass for John Loftus who had been a school friend of his at Saintfield. 

August 30th 1962

Dr William Philbin enthroned in St. Peter’s as Bishop of Down and Connor.

September 8th 1962

Holy Family Church was dedicated on Sunday September 8th, 1912, by Dr Tohill. It is therefore 50 years open today. There is no ceremony to commemorate the event as Dr Philbin has just arrived in the Diocese.

April 1964

During April and May various meetings were held with the Ministry of Education regarding the School Building Programme. It is now agreed that a new school for 450 girls be erected; that the old Parochial Hall (which is of zinc and has stood since 1895) should be demolished and in its place be erected a school assembly hall and meals centre. The existing boys’ and girls’ schools to be modernised and given over to the boys completely.

March 7th 1965

Mass in English begins today. The people answer their part quite well. Most people are pleased with the change. Older members of the congregation do not like it.

July 2nd 1965

The Little Sisters of the Assumption take over 222 Limestone Road as a Convent. Mother Provincial, Sisters Gemma and Louise arrive from Dublin. These sisters will be engaged in nursing the sick in their own homes. They will travel by motor scooters to the homes of their patients

January 1968

A Credit Union has been formed in the Parish with headquarters in the new hall. The aims and objectives of the new union were explained at a public meeting held on January 9th. Despite the inclement weather more than 300 people turned up at Holy Family Hall where they were welcomed by the President of the new branch, Mr Henry McCollam.

December 1968

Because of heightened tension caused by the violent reaction to Civil Rights marches, a special day of prayer was requested by the Bishop to be observed on December 15th

15th – 28th May 1974

For 14 days and nights the Parishioners lived through the effects of the Ulster Workers’ Council strike. The DACRAS organisation, under the leadership of Father John O’Connor, ensured that we had some emergency supplies of foodstuffs, fuel etc. 

January 1975

This is truly an important date in the history of Holy Family Parish. Following a Public Inquiry, a letter from the Department of Housing, Local Government and Planning arrived to grant outline planning permission for a new Church on the Cavehill Road. This letter ended a long and difficult fight for permission to build on the Cavehill.

March 1975

In order to make some effort to open up the bricked up houses in the area, a Housing Association was set up in Holy Family at the instigation of Mr Seamus O’Hara. We invited the Clergy of the Church of Ireland and the Presbyterian Churches to act as members of the committee. 

March 1977

This month saw the start of negotiations about the Day Centre for Senior Citizens of the Parish. It is hoped that the Parish will be able to purchase property at the corner of Newington Avenue and Atlantic Avenue for this project.

April 17th 1977

Cardinal Conway, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, died today at 10.30am. His funeral is to take place on Friday 22nd and Bishop Philbin is to be the main Celebrant and Preacher.

September 28th 1977

The new Nursery School in Baltic Avenue was officially opened today by His Lordship Dr Philbin. Mrs Alma Loughrey is the Principal of the Nursery School and the full quota of 50 children are now about to enter the new premises.

January 9th 1978

Work began on the new Day Centre for Senior Citizens at the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Newington Avenue. Total cost estimated at £72,755

January 25th 1978

Threatening graffiti on corrugated surround at site for new Church on the Cavehill Road. Got army and police at midnight to erase it.

April 3rd 1978

St. Thérèse Church painted with loyalist slogans. A minibus belonging to the Secondary School and Youth Club was burned out. Father Hilary Armstrong told The Irish News that he was awakened around 3.50am by an explosion. ”When I came out on to the landing I could see flames through the window. A couple of minutes later I went down to the car park and there were other minor explosions. The minibus was on fire. Everything was covered with loyalist paramilitary graffiti and the doors of the Church were daubed with the most vile and obnoxious slogans”.

June 5th 1978

Work begins on the new Church at Cavehill Road.

September 1978

Miss Anne McGrath takes up her position as the first lay Principal of Little Flower School, she is also the youngest Principal to be appointed to the post-Primary sector in the North of Ireland.

September 10th 1978

Senior Citizens Day Centre opened to the public. Great interest in this venture. The building is really beautiful and it is hoped the older people of the area will make full use of it. Over 1,000 people visited the Centre today and were much impressed.

September 1979

Pope John Paul 11 visits Ireland (Saturday 29th September, Sunday 30th September and Monday 1st October). The Parish really responded – buses were organised to go to Phoenix Park, Drogheda, Galway (Youth Mass) and Knock. Everyone very tired but any inconvenience well compensated for by the magnetism of this Most Holy Vicar of Christ. 

During his visit to Knock on 30th September, the Holy Father blessed the foundation stone for the new Church of the Resurrection at Cavehill Road.

November 1979

At 4.20am on 22nd November a bomb severely damaged the new Church of the Resurrection at Cavehill Road. As a result the Blessing and Dedication ceremony planned for 30th December has had to be postponed until further notice.

January 8th 1980

After living in the Parish for 15 years at 222 Limestone Road, the Little Sisters of the Assumption left to take up residence at 122 Antrim Road in St. Patrick’s Parish. 

April 1980

The new Church of the Resurrection has indeed “risen from the ashes”. In an incredibly short time, due mainly to the drive of Fr. McGarry, the building and furnishings were completed in time for the opening on the Feast of the Resurrection – Easter Sunday, April 6th

September 1982

His Lordship Dr. Philbin resigned as Bishop of Down and Connor. To mark the occasion the Priests of the Parish held a dinner for him in Somerton Road Presbytery.

October 1982

Dr. Cahal Daly was installed as Bishop of Down and Connor in St. Peter’s Pro-Cathedral on 17th October.

August 1988

On Friday 12th August the Parish officially received custody of the new St. Thérèse Primary School from the builders. The school was blessed and formally opened by Bishop Cahal Daly on Friday 30th September.

January 1989

The beginning of this year saw the official entry into the Parish of the Sisters of Mercy to work alongside the Priests in Pastoral Ministry. 

June 1990

Work begins on preparing the site for the new Parish Centre in the grounds of the Church of the Resurrection, Cavehill Road.

August 1990

Father Sean Emerson is appointed as Administrator. He gave assurance to all Parishioners that he was well equipped for the challenges of his Ministry in Holy Family Parish having served on Rathlin Island for 1 year, 9 months, 10 days and 2 hours! 

The Parish Finance Committee is formed.

March 1991

Rev. Jimmy O’Rawe, a Deacon, dies in Maynooth – a parishioner who had worked in the community as a doctor.

May 1991

The Pastoral Centre, 222 Limestone Road is opened. It will provide facilities for adult education and group meetings. 

The Parish Pastoral Council is formed.

March 1992

The Parish Centre is blessed by Bishop Farquhar. The occasion is attended by local Ministers and many Parishioners.

On a sad note, Sr. Ita Carroll, a member of the Dominican Community and Principal of Fortwilliam College, dies after a long illness.

October 1992

Hugh McCaughan, former Principal of Holy Family Boys’ School and great worker for the Credit Union dies.

March 1993

Official celebrations to mark the opening of the Centenary Year of Holy Family Parish got underway on 17th March.

1994

Holy Family Boys’ PS and Holy Family Girls’ PS amalgamate 

1998

A decision was taken that Holy Family Church would have to be demolished, following a Condition Report on the structure and fabric of the building. This initiated a long period of consultation and research with a view to appointing a suitable Architect with the essential faith, vision and experience required to undertake the Project.

October 2000 

As part of the Jubilee Year celebrations a 5 year Twinning Project was initiated. Nuala Moore, Fr Colm McBride and John Walls [RIP travelled to Holy Family Parish, Labasa, Fiji, our twinned Parish, so as to meet and establish links with the Columban Fathers (Fr Martin Dobey and Fr JJ Ryan), school Principals, St Vincent de Paul members and the Project Co-ordinator in Labasa, Mrs Doreen Robinson 

September 2001 

A Youth Faith Development Team was founded with a view to developing a policy for faith development among young people (11-18 years) and to devise strategies for implementing the policy.

March 2003

The parish website was launched. 

August 2004

Miss Anne McGrath retired as Principal of Little Flower School. The 26 years of her Headship were characterised by faith, leadership, dignity, dedication and vision. 

September 4th 2005

The final Mass was celebrated in Holy Family Church by Bishop Patrick Walsh. It was a day of sadness, nostalgia and memories but above all a day filled with hope, excitement and promise for the future of the faith community of the Parish.

October 8th 2005 

The demolition process begins. 

January 2006

The foundations of the new Church have been laid and the task has been facilitated by an unusual spell of mild and dry weather.

January 11th 2006 

It was with great sadness that the death of Mrs Christine McLaughlin, Principal of St. Thérèse

Primary School, was announced. She was a lady who was much loved by staff, pupils and parents. Her warmth, cheerfulness and brightness endeared her to everyone. Her professionalism inspired her colleagues and earned her great respect in the educational community.

December 21st 2006 

Sister Rosaire Boden OP retires as Principal of Dominican College, Fortwilliam. She is the last member of the Dominican Congregation to hold the Headship of a post-Primary School in the North of Ireland. She will be succeeded by Miss Sally McGahan.

A huge debt of gratitude is owed to the many Dominican Sisters who committed their lives to the education of young people in our Parish community and beyond since the establishment of the College on 15th September, 1930.

December 2006

The construction of the new Church of the Holy Family is progressing well. The Contractor is scheduling the end of March 2007 as the completion date. In time honoured tradition, the Parishioners have been very generous benefactors. They have supported the ‘Buy-a-brick’ campaign as well as sponsoring the Elements, Vestments and other key furnishings. The new Church will be a beautiful Liturgical space.

March 25th 2007

The Ceremony of Solemn Dedication and Blessing of Holy Family Church was celebrated at 3pm by Most Rev, Patrick Walsh, Bishop of Down and Connor. The Con-celebrants were Very Rev. Sean Emerson Adm; Very Rev. Canon Brendan Murray; Very Rev. Fred MacSorley and Rev. Senan Timoney SJ. Very Rev. Hugh Kennedy Adm. [St. Peter’s Cathedral] and Rev. Brendan McMullan CC fulfilled the role of Master of Ceremonies. There was a full congregation. The combined Parish Choir, under the leadership of Mark P Laverty, enhanced the Liturgy with magnificent singing and music. A reception was held afterwards, for all those present, in Holy Family Youth Resource Centre. It was a wonderful occasion and a very blessed day for the Parish.

June 29th 2007

On Friday 29th June, Canon Brendan Murray con-Celebrated Mass with Father Fred MacSorley, Father Sean Emerson and Father Brendan McMullan, in the Church of the Resurrection, to mark the occasion of the Golden Jubilee of his Ordination [23rd June 1957].

A very heart-warming number of Parishioners were at Mass to share in Canon Brendan’s joy at having reached this milestone and to offer congratulations. Ad multos annos.

February 3rd 2008

The Last Mass was celebrated in the Church of the Resurrection at 11.30am by Father Sean Emerson Adm. On Easter Sunday, 6th April 1980, the Church had been solemnly dedicated and opened. However, for health and safety reasons a decision was taken to close the Church, causing many Parishioners to experience great sadness. Relief was felt when Bishop Walsh announced his decision about the future of the Church and the site – firstly to retain a place of worship on Cavehill Road and secondly to have a new Church constructed. Almost coinciding with the first day of spring, this news gave Parishioners great reassurance, hope and confidence. 

February 10th2008

The news was announced that Sister Carmel Laverty had died. Sister Carmel was a member of the Mercy Congregation and she had been professed in 1944. She became the first Principal of Immaculata School and then of Our Lady of Mercy Girls’ post-Primary School, Ballysillan. For more than the past 20 years she has been one of the Parish Sisters, residing in 252 Limestone Road. During her life, Sister Carmel made an enormous contribution to education and to the faith and spiritual development of her many pupils and Parishioners. She left her sterling hallmark on many people and projects and she will be greatly missed. May she rest in peace.

February 22nd 2008 – Feast of The Chair of St. Peter, Apostle

The successor to Bishop Patrick Walsh was announced today. Monsignor Noel Treanor will take up his appointment on 29th June. Until then Bishop Walsh will fulfil the role of Apostolic Administrator. Bishop Walsh has been an Auxiliary Bishop of Down and Connor since 1983 and Bishop since 1991. We wish Bishop Walsh well in his retirement and give thanks for his many years of loyal service and dedication. 

June 29th 2008 – Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles

Today we joyfully celebrate the Episcopal Ordination of Monsignor Noel Treanor as 32nd Bishop of Down and Connor Diocese. The venue for the celebration was St Peter's Cathedral at 3.00pm. Cardinal Sean Brady was the Main Celebrant, assisted by Bishop Patrick Walsh, Dr Joseph Duffy (Clogher Diocese) and Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza (Papal Nuncio to Ireland). Bishop Noel has chosen the Motto: Sicut Filii Lucis Ambulate - Walk as Children of Light, based on St Paul's Letter to the Ephesians. The Parishioners of Holy Family offer Bishop Noel their prayerful support during his ministry. Ad Multos Annos

 October 2008

Father Colin Crossey took up his appointment as Curate. Father Colin was a ‘late vocation’ and consequently he brought a wealth of diverse experiences, energy and creativity to his ministry. He enthusiastically formed a Social Committee, Hospitality Team, Film Club to name but a few initiatives. He had a keen interest in choirs and music and also established the monthly celebration of Taize Prayer Around the Cross. He led Pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela, Oberammergau for the Passion Play, The Holy Land and a journey in the Footsteps of St. Columbanus which concluded in Bobbio, Italy.

February 8th 2009

Father Fred MacSorley died today in the Mater Hospital. He was 80 years of age. After his ordination in 1952 he served as a curate in Cushendun, as a teacher of chemistry and physics in St MacNissi's, Garron Tower, as a Curate in Newcastle, then as Parish Priest in the newly formed St Bernadette's Parish. In 2003 he was appointed to Holy Family Parish as assistant Curate and latterly as a Priest in Residence. He was a wonderful Priest, teacher, Pastor and friend. He will be greatly missed by all those who knew him. May he rest in peace. Amen. 

September 7th 2009

Bishop Noel Treanor addressed a large gathering of Parishioners in the Parish Centre to announce his decision concerning the Church of the Resurrection. He informed those present that the 'Church of the Resurrection will neither be repaired nor rebuilt' and went on to outline the reasons for his decision. He described the situation as a 'source of anguish' and that the issue of the Church of the Resurrection had 'never been far' from his mind since his appointment as Bishop of the Diocese.

Fr Emerson added that a Planning Application would be made to demolish the Church.

September 13th 2009

To mark the occasion of the Golden Jubilee of Little Flower School, Bishop Anthony Farquhar concelebrated Mass with Canon Murray and Fr Emerson in St Therese Church at 3pm. The congregation comprised past staff and pupils and three former Principals - Sr Aine Killen OP, Sr Magdalena McParland OP and Miss Anne McGrath. Afterwards the doors of the School were thrown open, refreshments were served and everyone was invited to task a nostalgic journey down memory lane.

October 8th 2009

In the recent Clerical Changes, announced by Bishop Noel Treanor, Father Emerson has been appointed Parish Priest of St Comgall's and St Joseph's in Antrim and Father Gerard McCloskey has been appointed to the position of Administrator of Holy Family Parish. Father Emerson has been the Administrator of Holy Family Parish since 1990. We thank him for his service and commitment and wish him well in his new Parish. We extend a warm welcome to Father McCloskey who has been the Parish Priest in St Agnes Parish, West Belfast since 2001.

December 31st 2009

His Eminence Cahal Brendan, Cardinal Daly RIP

The sad news was announced that Cardinal Daly died today, aged 92, following a short illness.

His remains will repose in St Peter's Cathedral, Belfast, until Sunday 3rd January when the Liturgy of the Word will be celebrated at 3pm. Then a period of repose will follow in St Patrick's Cathedral, Armagh, until Requiem Mass at 12 noon on Tuesday 5th January. The Cardinal will be buried in the Cathedral grounds.

Cardinal Daly was born in Loughguile in 1917. He was educated at the local National School and at St Malachy's College Belfast. He took a Classics degree at QUB before going to St Patrick's College, Maynooth. He was ordained in 1941 for the Diocese of Down and Connor. After further studies in Ireland and Paris he became a Classics master at St Malachy's College and then took up an appointment as a Lecturer in Scholastic Philosophy at QUB for the next 21 years. He was appointed Bishop successively in Ardagh and Clonmacnoise, 1967 - 1982, Down and Connor, 1982 - 1990 and Armagh, 1990 - 1996, where in 1991 he was elevated to the College of Cardinals.

Cardinal Sean Brady was the main Celebrant at the Requiem Mass for Cardinal Daly. During his homily Cardinal Brady said: ' Cardinal Cahal Daly was a prophetic, renewing and transforming figure in a time of immense change in the history of this Island. But his mission would be misunderstood, his legacy misrepresented, if it focused solely, or indeed principally, on the social and political aspects of his work. Cahal Daly was first and foremost a man of faith, a man of prayer, a man of God'. Powered by prayer he worked tirelessly to address violence, social injustices, deprivation and sectarianism. Cardinal Sean Brady asked all politicians and leaders to 'continue to work together to address social, economic and environmental challenges and thereby create the kind of country which Cardinal Daly and so many others yearned to see. I am certain that a reconciled, stable and sustainable future would be the best monument you could build to his memory'.

Cardinal Daly directed that his favourite words from the Acts of the Apostles be engraved on his tombstone:

'Life to me is not a thing to waste words on, provided that, when I finish my race, I shall have carried out the mission the Lord Jesus gave me - and that was to bear witness to the Good News of God's grace'.

May he rest in peace. Amen

May 30th 2010

Twenty one years after the establishment of their community in The Glen the tough decision was taken that the Sisters of Mercy should re-group into other Mercy Communities. During those years the Sisters were engaged in many roles ranging from pastoral care, education, nursing, care of the elderly, spiritual direction and prayer ministry in addition to being a powerhouse of prayer in our Parish. On behalf of the Parish community Fr Gerry McCloskey expressed deep appreciation for the dedication, commitment and witness to the consecrated life which the Sisters gave so generously and enthusiastically. We ask God to bless the Sisters during their time of adjustment and assure them of our prayerful support in the new Ministries they will undertake. 

July 7th 2010

Fr Gerry McCloskey celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving at 7pm in St Therese Church to mark the occasion of the Silver Jubilee of his Ordination to the Priesthood. Bishop Emeritus Patrick Walsh, Canon Brendan Murray and Fr Colin Crossey were con-celebrants. The congregation comprised Parishioners, members of Fr Gerry's family, friends and Priests who were also Silver Jubilarians. The Hospitality Team served refreshments in the Presbytery after the Mass. The Parish community warmly congratulates Fr Gerry and wishes him many more years of service and fulfilment. Ad multos annos.

October 13th 2010

Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration was initiated after 7pm Mass in St Therese Church. The venue is the former Cry Chapel which has been beautifully transformed. Some of the furnishings originally belonged to the Oratory in the Sisters of Mercy Convent in The Glen and the Sisters of Mercy Convent in Bessbrook.

On Monday 18th October Eucharistic Adoration was initiated in Holy Family Church after 9.15am Mass. The hours available for Adoration are Monday 10am - 4pm.

We pray that this devotion will bring countless blessings on our Parish.

November 3rd 2010

Fr Gerry celebrated Mass with the members of the Christian Brothers Community in Jubilee Avenue. After 11 years in Holy Family Parish the members will sadly be leaving to engage in new ministries. Fr Gerry thanked the Brothers for the sterling contribution they made to our Parish and also to the city of Belfast since their arrival in 1867. He assured the Brothers of the prayerful support of all of us.

December 2010

Due to the prolonged period of unprecedented treacherous weather, (the lowest temperatures for 120 years were recorded), Eucharistic Adoration had to be suspended.

January 1st 2011

Eucharistic Adoration resumed after Midnight Mass. This Mass was celebrated by Bishop Noel Treanor and Fr Gerry McCloskey. Bishop Treanor took the opportunity to deliver his message to mark the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God and World Day of Peace. 

May 7th 2011

Dr Cyprian Lwanga, Archbishop of Kampala, Primate of Uganda, President of Caritas Uganda and President of Caritas Africa concelebrated the 6.30pm Vigil Mass in Holy Family Church with three fellow Ugandan priests, Fr Joseph, Fr Vincent and Fr Aloysious along with Fr Gerry McCloskey and Fr Colin Crossey. The wonderful music and singing were provided by the Folk Group under the leadership of Miss Fiona Keegan. The visit was arranged through Bishop Donal McKeown and the Developing World Group. Fr Gerry hosted a reception in the Presbytery afterwards. Also present were five Ugandan teachers, they were part of a CCMS exchange programme.

Other guests at the reception included four visitors from Porto, Portugal. Their Parish will host 50 young people from the Diocese of Down and Connor who plan to attend WYD 2011 in Madrid.

June 10th – 17th 2011 ~ 50th International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin

Theme – ‘Communion With Christ And With One Another’

On Sunday 17th June two coaches departed from Holy Family Church to bring Parishioners to Croke Park, Dublin, for the celebration of Statio Orbis, the Final Mass of the Congress. Father Gerry McCloskey Adm. and Father Colin Crossey CC accompanied the Parishioners. Approximately 75,000 people from all corners of the world filled the Stadium. The main Celebrant was Cardinal Marc Ouellet from Quebec who represented the Pope. Towards the end of the Statio Orbis a message from Pope Benedict XVI was transmitted electronically. The Pope also announced the venue for the next Congress in 2016 - Cebu in the Philippines. A spiritually enriching, uplifting and memorable day was enjoyed by all.

December 2011

The Living Church Office was established by Bishop Noel Treanor and was tasked with developing a Diocesan Pastoral Plan.

May 2012

The Living Church Team was established comprising Father Alan McGuckian SJ [Director], Jim Deeds [Parish Development Co-ordinator and Training and Facilitation Officer], Paula McKeown [Director of Faith Development], Collette Corrigan [ Training and Facilitation Officer]and Geraldine Mullan [Office Manager].

August 2013

Bishop Noel Treanor announced new Clerical appointments which impacted on our Parish. Father Gerry McCloskey is to become Parish Priest of Dunsford & Ardglass and Father Colin Crossey is to be Chaplain to the Royal Group of Hospitals and also to the Adoration Sisters. Feelings of appreciation and sadness were expressed as both Priests moved to new pastures.

Bishop Treanor also announced that Father Paul Strain [currently Parish Priest in St. John’s and Chaplain to the Deaf Community] would be the new Administrator of the Parish. He was very warmly welcomed upon his arrival and assured of the prayers and support of Parishioners. 

September 28th2013 – Diocesan Congress

The Diocesan Congress, held in The Waterfront Hall, was a landmark day for our Diocese. Delegates from all the Parishes assembled for a full and exciting programme, planned and co-ordinated by the Living Church Team. It was an inspirational day comprising prayer, a keynote address by Breda O’Brien, discussion, stimulating workshops and an address by Bishop Treanor. A key aspect of the day was the presentation of the Diocesan Pastoral Plan consisting of 5 strands, namely: Open, Welcoming Community; Faith & Worship; Clergy & Religious; Lay Participation; Passing on the Faith.

The day concluded with a delightful concert featuring The Priests, Cappella Caeciliana, the Schola Cantorum, Eamonn O’Faoigain, dancers from St. Louise’s College and a Diocesan Youth Choir. The theme of the Congress - ‘Our Church, Our Community, Our Commitment’ – was truly tangible. The Living Church Team deserves congratulations and thanks for its vision, leadership and courage and for generating a sense of hope, confidence and co-responsibility in the shaping of the Diocese for the future.

October 2013

Deacon Andrew Black was appointed to assist Father Paul Strain. Deacon Andrew settled into his role very quickly and he generously shared his many skills and talents as he ministered to Parishioners and engaged with Parish groups and committees. He undertook an extensive workload in the schools and in the development of the Liturgy. In particular, he was renowned for the preparation and delivery of his Homilies.

October 25th /26th 2013 – North Belfast Pastoral Area Team 

Following a series of lead-in meetings, the 5 Parishes in the North Belfast Vicariate [St. Patrick’s, Holy Family, Sacred Heart, Holy Cross and St. Vincent de Paul] have been invited to pilot a collaborative approach so as to share good practice and resources and develop in a way that would continue Christ’s mission in our time and place. Representatives of the 5 Parishes met in Drumalis to agree Office Bearers and identify Areas of Work that we could all engage in. The Parish representatives are:

St. Patrick’s – Father Michael Sheehan, Maire MacDermott [Chairman], Patricia Shearer, Daniel Byrne

Holy Family – Father Paul Strain, Ann D’Arcy [Secretary], Maire Hughes, Brian Shannon

Sacred Heart – Father Martin Magill, Cecilia McCloskey, Rosemary McCloskey, Marian Robertson

Holy Cross – Father Eugene McCarthy, Wilma Lynch, John Morrison, Sister Frances Forde RIP [10.09.2014]

St Vincent de Paul – Father Patrick Devlin, Aldrin Banas, Isobel Brady, Teresa Brad 

March 28th 2014 – Diocesan Pastoral Council

The Diocesan Pastoral Council was formed as an outworking of one of the aims of the Diocesan Congress [September 2013] which stated that a culture of co-responsibility among laity, clergy and religious at every level of the life of the Diocese was to be promoted. To this end, a Diocesan Pastoral Council was established to work with the Bishop to identify the key pastoral issues facing the Diocese and to discern the appropriate responses. The Mission Statement of the Council is: ‘Inspired by the Word of God, the Diocesan Pastoral Council supports the Bishop in discerning the pastoral concerns of all the people of the Diocese and makes recommendations – with a special concern for those who feel that they do not belong’. 

May 2014 

Under the auspices of Living Church, the Parish ‘Ministry of Welcome’ team was formed.

July 2014

‘A Vision for the Future’ – It was decided to undertake a strategic planning exercise to determine the future of the Parish. To this end, the Priests, Finance Committee and Pastoral Council will work collaboratively with Parishioners and commence an Option Appraisal exercise.

August 2014

Father Paul Morely, from Kerala, India, took up his appointment as a Curate in our Parish. Father Paul arrived in Belfast in January of this year. He has been residing in St. Paul’s Parish whilst undertaking a programme of study in St. Mary’s University College. He was given a very warm welcome.

September 13th – 14th 2014

Deacon Andrew Black will be commencing the first of two modules of the Certificate in Pastoral Education [CPE] in October. So as to wish him well and to express our appreciation to him, Parishioners were invited to come along for coffee and refreshments in the Gathering Space after the Vigil and Sunday morning Masses.

September 20th 2014 – Faith & Life Convention

Under the auspices of the Living Church Office a one day Convention was held in Our Lady & St Patrick’s College, Knock. The theme was ‘Living the Faith to Make a Difference’. The purpose of the day was to have conversations about the meaning of the faith and its relevance to every area of our lives. It was an opportunity for creating a culture of theological reflection on being a member of a missionary Church and how we evangelise our homes, our work places and the civic spaces in which we live. The day was fulfilling, challenging, reassuring and uplifting. The venue was ideal and the Living Church Team deserves great credit for planning and delivering the programme for the event.

 November 12th 2014

A Public Meeting was convened in the Parish Centre to listen to the opinions of Parishioners in respect of the consultation document –‘A Vision for the Future’. Approximately 250 people attended. Parishioners gave their support to the proposed Option Appraisal exercise as outlined in the document. Deep grief was expressed by many of those present concerning the closure of the Church of the Resurrection and the ensuing breakup of the community.

Thursday 5th March 2015

On Thursday 5th March our neighbouring Parish, St. Patrick’s, commenced a year of celebrations to mark the bi-Centenary of the Parish. The first event was a Mass celebrated by the Papal Nuncio, Charles Brown, and the con-Celebrants included Bishop Noel Treanor, Bishop Anthony Farquhar, Bishop Emeritus Patrick Walsh and the Priests of the Vicariate Parishes. Almost 1000 people filled the Church which was decorated resplendently. The Liturgy was magnificent and enhanced by excellent music and singing. Afterwards a delicious finger buffet was served and this offered an opportunity to chat and mingle. Many Parishioners in Holy Family have strong family ties with St Patrick’s so our Parish was well represented in the congregation. We extend congratulations to St Patrick’s. Ad multos annos.

April 2015

www.holy-familyparish.com The Communications Committee took on the task of planning for our parish website to be re-designed. After many weeks of gathering data the new website was launched. Additional features include the webcam in Holy Family Church, Facebook and Twitter. You can keep up to date with all parish Liturgies, news and events where ever you are!

Sunday 3rd May 2015

Deacon Andrew Black was ordained for the Ministry of Priesthood at 3pm in St. Colmcille’s Church, Holywood, Co. Down, by Bishop Noel Treanor. The Church, splendidly decorated with floral arrangements, was filled to capacity to celebrate this joyful occasion. Magnificent music and singing, led by Dr Gregory Skibinski and Mark Laverty, enhanced the Liturgy. Father Andrew chose as his motto: ‘Commit your life to the Lord; Trust in Him and he will act on your behalf’. [Psalm 37]

Tuesday 5th May 2015

Father Andrew received a rapturous welcome from parishioners when he returned to our parish to celebrate Mass of Thanksgiving at 7pm in Holy Family Church. Mark Laverty conducted the combined parish choirs and the music and singing were inspiring. After Mass, Father Andrew bestowed his individual blessing on everyone present. On behalf of the parish community, Aideen D’Arcy made a presentation of a cheque and an engraved pen to Father Andrew. This was followed by a reception in the Gathering Space, organised by the Social Committee. We assure Father Andrew of our prayerful support and wish him every blessing and fulfilment in his Ministry. Ad multos annos.

Saturday 9th – Sunday 24th May 2015

Our parish Mission, based on the theme of The Beatitudes was led by members of the Ceili Community. This was a mission with a difference, making a difference! On a practical note, the members of the Mission Team were home hosted and the evening meal was provided by parishioners and served in the Pastoral Centre, co-ordinated by the Hospitality Team. On a pastoral level the Ceili Team undertook the visitation of every household in the parish. The pupils in Holy Family PS, St Therese of Lisieux PS and Little Flower Girls’ School participated in a special week of prayer, drama, art and music followed by a presentation to their family members. During the second week of the Mission parishioners were invited to participate in a wide range of Liturgies and para-Liturgies including the Rosary, Holy Hour, Stations of the Cross, Sacrament of Reconciliation, blessing of babies and expectant mothers, Mass with Anointing of the Sick and remembering our deceased loved ones. The fruits of the Mission continue to ripple out in the daily life of the Parish. We are very grateful to the Ceili Mission Team and to all those who contributed in any way to making arrangements for the Mission.

Tuesday 9th June 2015

On Tuesday 9th June Father Paul Strain celebrated the 30th Anniversary of his Ordination to the Priesthood. The parishioners marked this occasion by serving refreshments, co-ordinated by the Hospitality Team, in the Gathering Space after the Vigil and Sunday Masses on the preceding weekend. These were blessed opportunities for the parish community to chat and to express support, appreciation and good wishes to Father Paul.

Saturday 26th September 2015

The second Diocesan Faith and Life Convention was held in Our Lady and St. Patrick’s College, Knock, Belfast. The theme was ‘What hope for faith?’ The keynote address was delivered by Father Alan McGuckian, S.J. followed by a panel discussion and in the afternoon various workshops offered the opportunity to explore themes such as the beginning of life, the pastoral response to suicide, sectarianism and reconciliation, ecology, movies that matter and youth ministry. It was a very enjoyable and a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the meaning of faith, its relevance to our everyday lives and some of the ways we are called to personal and ecclesial renewal today.

Saturday 3rd – Sunday 4th October 2015

The Pastoral Council organised a Celebrating Service event which was held in the Gathering Space. It was a tremendous opportunity for groups in the parish to share with fellow parishioners their work and role in parish life and in the life of the Church. It was also an opportunity for the parish to show appreciation and to acknowledge the commitment of so many parishioners who generously give of their time and talents in the service of others. The Gathering Space was transformed into a hub of energy, enthusiasm and creativity which inspired, challenged and encouraged the many visitors to the 37 exhibitions. The event was also a very enjoyable social occasion, enhanced by delightful refreshments served by the Hospitality Team. Taking to heart the words of Larry Krayzelburg ‘If it’s going to be, it’s up to me’ a significant number of groups gained new members – a very reassuring response so that our parish continues to be ‘a praying, caring community, centred in Christ’.  Sincere thanks and appreciation to everyone who participated in any way in the event.

Wednesday 06th January 2016

Father Paul Morely celebrated the 15th anniversary of his Ordination to the Priesthood.  To mark this occasion, refreshments were served after the 10am and 12 noon Masses in the Gathering Space on Sunday 10th January.

January - February 2016

During January and February, 3 consultation meetings were convened in respect of "A Vision for the Future". The following issues were addressed:

 - Thursday 21 January 2016 - potential use of St Therese Presbytery.

 - Thursday 28 January 2016 - potential to develop a Columbarium in the Parish.

 - Wednesday 03 February 2016 - use and suitability of the Parish Centre, Cavehill Road.

Monday 23rd May 2016

Holy Family Church was the prefect setting for a concert of sacred music and vespers, featuring the acclaimed university of Notre Dame (Indiana, USA) Folk Choir, directed by Steven Warner. Parishioners and friends filled the Church to capacity, and were uplifted and inspired by the magnificent singing and music. The Hospitality Team served refreshments afterwards, and the Choir members were generously hosted by Parish families, before travelling to their next destination in Co. Clare.