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Parish Life & Volunteering

Altar Societies

Holy Family

Members – Tilly Cash, Martha Woods, Nell Barbour, Pennamma Paise, Teresa Davis, Helen Armstrong, Ivy Vance, Breege McEldowney, Tom Hannon.

The duties of the Society include-

  • Dusting all the seats, window sills, main altar, credence table, lectern, confessional, stools, Holy Doors, Lady Chapel and surrounding area.
  • Cleaning the brass of the Holy Water Font
  • Flower arrangements
  • Laundering of Altar linens

Dusting is usually done after 9.15am Mass on Friday.

New members are always very welcome.

St. Therese

Members - Nuala Moore, Patsy Gillen, Regina O'Callaghan, Phil Beagon. 

The members take responsibility for the altar cloths, small linens, vestments, care of sacred vessels and brasses. They also arrange floral decorations for the Sanctuary in keeping with the Liturgical Seasons.

For more information please contact Patsy Gillen T: 9077 2467 or Nuala Moore T: 9077 1294 

Apostolic Society

Since 1927 Parishioners in Holy Family Parish have supported the work of Priests and religious in spreading the Word of God. 91% of money raised is sent directly to the Missions and used to build and maintain Churches and schools, provide sacred vessels, help with the education of catechists and young people [particularly girls] by paying school fees and assist with other needs in Parishes. Our mission includes praying as well as fundraising but we need new members. If you can give a few hours to help please contact Nuala Moore T: 9077 1294 

Baptism Preparation Team

Members: Brenda Killough & Frances Keenan

In conjunction with the Priests, the members of the Baptism Preparation Team have designed a preparation programme for first time parents. Godparents are also encouraged to participate in the session. In addition, when parents contact the Parish Office to book a date for the Baptism of subsequent babies, a member of the Baptism Preparation Team will make an appointment to visit the family home to ensure that arrangements are in place.

Bethany Bereavement Support Ministry

Members: Frances Parker, Nuala Prince, Ken McLaughlin, Sister Marie-Joseph OP, Anne Rea & Tom Rea

The name Bethany takes its inspiration from the visit of Jesus to Martha and Mary on the death of their brother Lazarus, a visit during which Jesus shows understanding and support, as well as compassion for the grief of his friends.

The Bethany Bereavement Support Ministry aims to offer support to those who are bereaved and grieving. It is stressed that this is not a counselling service. It might best be described as a listening ministry, in which trained volunteers offer their time and their attention in order that those who have been bereaved may be enabled to feel supported in their grief by a sympathetic human presence and to speak about their bereavement, if they so desire, in complete confidence.

Home visits – Bethany Bereaved Support Ministers will normally carry out home visits in pairs. The first visit will usually be made no earlier than six to eight weeks after the death of a loved one. The person being visited is under no obligation to invite the callers in but may wish to do so. Anything discussed during a visit is confidential. Callers will leave a card giving contact details and subsequent contact will usually be at the request of the bereaved person, who will also determine the period of time over which there is desire for support visits to continue.

If you wish to contact someone from the Bethany Ministry, either to request a visit or to express an interest in becoming a member, the Mobile Number is 07925 260592

Communications Committee

Members: Father Paul Strain, Nikki Sullivan, Betty Sowney, Marie Murphy, Ann D’Arcy

The members of the Committee have recently overseen the creation of our new Parish website and installation of the Webcam. We will endeavour to keep the website ‘live’ so that Parishioners can enjoy coverage of recent events, keep up to date with current matters as well as having an overview of Parish life readily available on phones, tablets, watches and laptops. Nikki and Betty ensure that the Bulletin is produced every week and over the next while we plan to review and enhance other Parish documentation and literature. 

Craft Class

The Craft Class started as a 6 week Christmas Craft Class in the mid-nineties and then as a sewing and crochet class the following year. Members make crocheted garments and blankets, sew patchwork quilts, wall hangings, cushions, curtains and Roman blinds. Some have even upholstered footstools and chairs. There are currently 15 members in the class. It meets in the Parish Centre on Wednesdays from 10.00am – 12.30pm from September to June. On the social side we have a cup of tea and a biscuit each week, go out for lunch once a year and go on at least one outing, usually in June.

Developing World Group

The Developing World Group was established in 2000.

The group aims to raise Parish awareness of development issues and to provide practical support for projects in developing countries.

To meet these aims, the group supports small scale projects, often with parish links, which fall below the radar of large scale funding. Our present project is the Twezimbe Centre, Jinja, Uganda. The Group also supports Trocaire and responds to emergency appeals.

Money is raised from ‘Coffee Mornings’ held once or twice a year, Fair Trade Stalls held twice a year, the ballot at the Film Club, the sale of hand crafted Ugandan jewellery, sale of Trocaire Global Gifts before Christmas and the Lenten Lunch [Trocaire].

We want to support people in the Developing World to improve their lives, meet their basic needs and ensure their dignity. It is not just about providing the fish, but rather buying the fishing rod to enable them to fish. 

Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion

Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist are ‘official’ assistants to the Priests in the distribution of Communion at Mass. They are members of the Church community who are appointed for 3 years to exercise this Ministry. The Ministers are commissioned during the celebration of the Mass of The Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday and then re-commissioned annually. The Ministry also includes taking the Eucharist to the sick and housebound.

Each Minister is assigned to a particular Sunday Mass and/or a weekday Mass, depending on their availability and personal commitments.

‘Holy Communion has always been seen as the highest external sign of our belonging not only to Christ but also to the Church’. [Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference 1998]

Co-ordinators –

Holy Family Church – Anne O'Kane, contact the Parish Office

St Therese Church – Bernadette Cunningham, contact the Parish Office

Girl Guides

Holy Family Girl Guide Unit was established over 40 years ago. It is aligned to the Catholic Guides of Ireland. The CGI’s Mission Statement is ‘to provide a challenging Guiding programme within a safe environment, to enable all girls and young women to develop their full potential’.

 The Unit is based in Holy Family Youth Centre on the top floor and meets as follows:

Rangers [14+ years] meet on alternate Monday evenings 7 – 9pm

Guides [11 – 14 years] meet on Monday evenings 7 – 9pm

Brigins [6 – 10 years] meet on Tuesday evenings 7 – 8.30pm

Cygnets [5 – 6 years] meet on Wednesday evenings 7 – 8pm

A weekly programme full of fun and learning experiences, including arts and crafts, games, cooking, trips, badge work, outdoor experiences, camps and opportunities to travel, is provided. The list is endless…..!

All leaders are volunteers and trained by the Catholic Guides of Ireland Organisation. New volunteers [age 18+] are always welcome to join us in providing challenging and fun opportunities for our young people.

Mairead Walsh is the Unit Leader, assisted by Meave Heaney. They can be contacted through the Parish Office or E: For more information please browse or call in to visit us! 

Holy Family Youth Resource Centre

Leader – Martin Kelly

224 Limestone Road


BT15 3AP

T: 9087 5150



Hospitality Team

The Holy Family Parish Hospitality Team is led by Carol McLaughlin and Nora Byrne and enthusiastic volunteers who generously provide ad-hoc support. We are a small team within the Parish Ministry of Welcome and aim to reach out and provide a friendly reception to all guests, visitors and strangers. We can be contacted directly:

Carol - Mobile 07713 323494 and Email – mclaughlin­

Nora – Mobile 07821 160696 and Email –

or via the Parish Office. 

IBDI [Irish Bishops’ Drug Initiative]

From February to June 2015 the Y7 boys and girls in Holy Family Primary School, their parents and Confirmation Sponsors will have the opportunity to participate in a Pilot Programme under the auspices of IBDI and the Public Health Agency. The Programme aims to help the young people through the transition from Primary to post-Primary School and to enable them to make good decisions about friendships and lifestyle choices.

Parents and Sponsors can participate in TATI [Talking About Tough Issues] workshops over a 4 week period and the boys and girls will engage in a 6 week classroom based programme during April and May. The Pilot Programme will conclude with a Day of Celebration in June.

Irish Language Class
An Irish class takes place in the Liturgy Room, Holy Family Church, on Thursdays at 10am.  This is an opportunity to enjoy a cup of coffee and learn Irish in a relaxed and informal atmosphere. All levels are catered for. If you would like more information, please come along or telephone Marcas Kennedy on 07724 199121.

Lay Franciscans

Lay Franciscans are ordinary people who try to go from Gospel to life and from life to Gospel following the example of St. Francis of Assisi.

We respect all God’s creation and we are eco-friendly.

We belong to the order of Secular Franciscans [formerly the Third Order]. We do not take sacred vows.

We aim at holiness – our goal is to become saints! We are not saints but we are trying to be. We feel that the Franciscan way is the way God is calling us. Our apostolate is in our homes, our work, schools and colleges. We make a daily effort to radiate Christ in our small world.

We are under the special protection of the Blessed Virgin of the Immaculate Conception.

If you think you would be interested to learn about Jesus and the Franciscans join us at 7pm on the 1st Tuesday of every month in the Gate Lodge.

Legion of Mary

The Praesidium meets every Monday evening at 7.30pm in The Gate Lodge, in the grounds of Holy Family Church.  Visit to download the official handbook, and find out about the Legion and the type of work with which it is involved.

New members are urgently needed. If you are interested please contact the Parish Office or come along to the meeting on Monday evening.

Liturgy Committee

Members – Father Paul Strain, Father Paul Morely, Canon Brendan Murray, Peter Bannon, Siobhan Harding, Mark Laverty, Trisha Nolan, Patricia McGuinness, Nuala Prince, Ann D’Arcy, Claire McCusker, Matthew Parish, Nuala Moore, Patsy Gillen, Bernadette Cunningham

Article 14 in the ‘Constitution On The Sacred Liturgy’ states: “All the faithful should be led to the full, conscious and active participation of Liturgical celebrations which the nature of the Liturgy itself requires and which, in virtue of their baptism, is the right and duty of the Christian people, ‘a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people’”.

The living out of this statement is the work of the Lord in progress!

The members of the Liturgy Committees meet several times a year to -

  1. plan and prepare for each Liturgical Season
  2. deepen their knowledge and understanding of Liturgy
  3. evaluate current practice and make suggestions for more enriching Liturgies
  4. plan how to make the environment of the Churches more welcoming and inviting
  5. develop and promote the worship of God and the prayer life of the Parish community

Please click here to read the Minutes of the most recent meeting.

Ministers of the Word

The Ministry of Reading calls you to grow in a warm and loving knowledge of the Scriptures – The Living Word of God.

Ministers of the Word are trained and commissioned on Pentecost Sunday for a period of 3 years. They serve on a rota basis for daily Mass, the Vigil and Sunday Masses in addition to Holy Days and other Liturgical celebrations, in Holy Family Church and St Therese Church.

Ministers of the Word should be a representative of the Parish, Baptised and Confirmed Catholics and participants in the life of the Parish.

The Co-ordinators are:

Holy Family Church – Siobhan Harding, contact the Parish Office

St Therese Church – Peter Bannon, contact the Parish Office

Music Ministry

From the time of the celebration of the first Mass in the Parish over 100 years ago, down through the generations to the present day, choirs and musicians have enhanced our Liturgical celebrations. We have been blessed with talented people who have helped us, through the expression of their creativity, to give glory to God. Today, that standard of excellence prevails and it is tremendously encouraging to see the commitment and example of our leaders as well as potential new leaders and members of the Music Ministry emerging. It is a testimony to this tradition that all our Sunday Masses, including Vigils, are enhanced by music and song in addition many other Liturgical celebrations throughout the year marking Seasons, Feasts and special occasions. Following on, three of our leaders, Mark Laverty, Claire McCusker and Matthew Parish share some thoughts. [Please refer to ‘Young People’ for the Children’s Choir]

The Choir for the Vigil Mass in St Thérèse is often referred to as the “Resurrection Choir”, having been formed for the opening of the Church of the Resurrection. When the Church closed, the Choir moved down to St Thérèse where it sings at the 6pm Vigil Mass on Saturdays. It is a 4 part choir, singing both motets and contemporary hymns. The organist and choirmaster is Mark Laverty. The choir rehearses from 5pm on Saturdays and is always looking for new members. If you would like to join you can speak to Mark after Mass or contact the Parish Office. [Mark Laverty]

St Therese Folk Group was formed in 1991 and has grown from strength to strength. Over the past few years membership has remained at around 15 people, with members leaving to go to greener pastures [often to University] and being replaced with new talent. The main role of the Group is to lead the congregation in singing and to enrich Liturgies through music and lyrics. Through this, members may also develop their own faith and relationships within the Parish community. We sing at 12 noon Mass on Sundays in St Therese Church as well as special Feasts throughout the year. The Folk Group has released two CDs to raise money for Parish funds. [Claire McCusker]

Grown from the CYMS Choir, Holy Family Choir established itself in 2009 as a four part, mixed Choir and sings regularly at the 12 noon Sunday Mass in Holy Family Church.   The Choir continues to go from strength to strength, currently consisting of more than 20 members across a wide age range.   Members do not need to have prior choral experience, giving anyone a chance to sing an array of music from classical composers such as Mozart to modern day composers including Chilcott and Lawton in a Liturgical setting. [Matthew Parish]

Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration Committee

Please refer to the Prayer section.

Newington Day Centre

Newington Day Centre was opened in 1978. Situated on the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Newington Avenue, the Centre looks after the elderly population in the community.
The philosophy of the Centre is: 'To promote the independence, well-being, dignity and self-esteem of members.’ The Day Centre aims to enable people from many different backgrounds to remain living in the community and to provide support and respite for carers. Offering a wide range of services, the Centre is a community by day but also a part of the wider community. Help is available with personal hygiene, hairdressing, chiropody, therapeutic services and a ‘Look after Yourself’ programme’. Carers can also avail of a range of services, including advice, training and support. Volunteers are supported by training courses and through regular contact with the Volunteer Manager. Morning and afternoon tea and midday meals are served daily. The Day Centre has justifiably been referred to as ‘the jewel in the crown’ in terms of caring for the elderly. Margaret McCrudden is the Centre Manager and she leads a wonderful team of committed, skilled and dedicated staff supported by volunteers who give generously of their time and talents. Visitors are guaranteed a very warm welcome. T: 9035 1947 W:

Sacramental Preparation Teams

The members of the Sacramental Preparation Teams engage with parents-to-be for the Sacrament of Baptism and with parents/guardians and children who attend non-Parish schools for the Sacraments of First Confession, First Communion and Confirmation. To arrange preparation for the latter three Sacraments parents/guardians are expected to contact the Parish Office at the beginning of the Academic Year so that dates, times and venues can be noted.


The role of the Sacristans is to take responsibility for the management of the Sacristies in Holy Family and St Therese Churches. As the Liturgical Year moves through the Seasons [Advent, Christmastide, Ordinary Time, Lent, Easter, Pentecost] the Sacristan ensures that the Priest’s Vestments are the correct colour and that Books are appropriately marked. They ensure that Communion Breads, Altar wine, candles and incense are stocked, and that linens and vessels meet the needs of the particular Liturgical celebration. The Sacristans also look after the Sanctuary area in both Churches and assist with supervising the Altar Servers. These tasks are carried out on a daily basis for the celebration of Mass as well as for special occasions i.e. baptisms, weddings, funerals, Confirmation, Stations of the Cross, Taize etc. In addition, the Sacristans oversee the general environs of the Church precincts.

Our regular Sacristans are supported by a team of committed volunteers who give generously of their time.


The following Scout meetings take place in the Parish Centre:

Beavers, Monday 7.00 – 8.00pm

Cubs, Wednesday 7.00 – 8.30pm

Scouts, Wednesday 8.00 – 9.30pm

If you are interested in joining, you are welcome to drop-in and have a chat with the Leaders.

Social Committee

Members: Carol McLaughlin, Nora Byrne, Kitty McCann, Angela Lowry, Aideen D’Arcy, Ann D’Arcy

The members of the Social Committee meet several times a year to plan talks, tours, tastings etc. and to select films for screening at the Film Club. We have enjoyed some thoroughly memorable and enriching visits to Armagh, Downpatrick, Dublin and closer to home to Stormont, Linen Hall Library, Clifton House – just to give you a flavour. On occasions we join forces with the Hospitality Team to combine and share our talents and resources. Information on visits, events and the Film Club are printed in the Bulletin and posted on the website. If you would like to join the Social Committee please contact the Parish Office.

SPRED [Special Religious Development – where faith and friendship meet]

SPRED is a vibrant community of 700 people who meet each week in over 40 locations across the Diocese of Down & Connor. The Mission Statement is: ‘Assisting people with learning disabilities in achieving their rights to belong to and to grow, both within the local Parish and wider communities, thereby enriching the life of the whole community’. SPRED treasures the following values [i] creating a loving and caring environment in which volunteers and Special Friends grow in faith together [ii] belief in the sanctity and rights of every human being irrespective of their ability [iii] to include and welcome people from all faiths and walks of life. The Parish SPRED group meets in the Parish Centre on alternate Tuesdays from 7.15 – 9.00pm. Mary Crummey [contact Parish Office] is the leader and Canon Murray is the Chaplain. For more information please browse

St. Vincent de Paul Conferences

The three Conferences of the St Vincent de Paul Society [Holy Family, St Therese, Church of the Resurrection] primarily aim to help families in our own community who are experiencing financial hardship as a result of ill health, unemployment, low wages or serious debt. We carry out home visits to assess what help is needed. We rely solely on the weekly contributions to the Red Box and occasional larger donations. The money is given to families who need food, fuel, clothing, white goods and /or furniture. At Christmas, we distribute food hampers to needy families and also gifts and toys kindly donated by Parishioners. 


Both Churches are served by teams of Ushers who could be regarded as ‘Meeters and Greeters’ to the Parishioners arriving for the Vigil and Sunday Masses. Primarily we ensure that the Mass and Hymn Books/Sheets are in place and then as the body of the Church fills, we would help anyone needing assistance to find a suitable seat. We are responsible for selecting volunteers to life the collection during Mass and also ask two or three members of the congregation to help with the Offertory procession.

While Mass is being celebrated we stay at the main door to assist anyone who needs help.

At the end of Mass we ensure that the doors are secured open and we hold the St. Vincent de Paul red collection boxes if required. We have two ushers on each team and operate on a three week cycle.


Since the foundation of our Parish, over a century ago, a hallmark has been the sterling tradition of volunteering. Down through the generations Parishioners of all ages have given generously of their time and talents to support the Priests and build and develop a vibrant Parish community. As we endeavour to address the challenges of our times, in a spirit of co-responsible leadership, volunteering is of even greater importance. You are invited to browse the extensive list of activities, organisations etc. and if you have a few hours to spare, please consider volunteering with a group that appeals to you. More information is available through the Parish Office. 

Welcome Ministry

The Welcome Ministry was established in Spring 2014, following which the Welcome Team participated in training facilitated by the Living Church Team, along with the other Parishes in the North Belfast Pastoral Area.

A truly Catholic community welcomes all people and the Parish Welcome Team is exploring how we can include everyone within our Parish, particularly the marginalised and disengaged, as well as those who have come to live in Holy Family Parish together with people from different ethnic backgrounds. We also want to support vulnerable people within the Parish, particularly sick, elderly and housebound people to enable them to continue to be part of the Parish faith community.

Members: Phil Gorman [Chairman], Maire Hughes [Secretary], Father Paul Strain, Nora Byrne, Aideen D’Arcy, Margaret Gunn,  Kathleen McKeever, Aileen McNicholl, Ann Murray & Tom O’Kane.