Reopening & Blessing of the Newly Resorted Friary Church:
After months of renovations and restoration, the reopening and blessing of the Friary Church was celebrated on October 23rd 2022. Hundreds gathered for the great occasion with Bishop Fintan Gavin and the Carmelite Community to give thanks for our past, celebrate our present and look forward to the future in hope and trusting in the providence of God
The Blessing was an opportunity to recall again with gratitude those whose foresight and generosity made possible the building of the Church in the early years of the ninetieth century. The spire and cut limestone façade of the Church, towers above the Kinsale skyline, which replaced an earlier Church that stood on the same site. Carmelites Fr. Callanan and Lullum are largely credited with the inception and vision to build, but we know that the same Church would not be standing today, were it not for the hundreds of faithful and generous families who financed the project to make the Friary Church the enduring spiritual home it is.
The history of the Friary is well documented. Though what is rarely captured in the annals of history is the ageless story of the faith, hope and love of those countless men and women who down through the generations have made significant sacrifices to support the Friary and the building up of the Church and Carmelite presence in Kinsale. We think of the many Carmelites who have ministered in Kinsale, preached the Word of God and celebrated the sacraments in our beautiful Friary Church. We remember the choirs, the organists, the cleaners, collectors, flower arrangers, the painters and skilled tradesmen who have, over the years, maintained its beauty and made it a place of welcome and hospitality.
October 23rd was truly a day Jubilee and celebration as we marked over 180 years of ministry from this Church in the 688th year of the Carmelites presence in Kinsale, beginning a new chapter in the story of the Carmelite Friary and Church. With its impressive vaulted timber ceiling restored, new plaster and paint work completed, new LED lighting system illuminating the dozen or so stone busts of saints and angels, the Church continues to give glory to God in its art and iconography and its restored stained glass; a reminder to all who visit the Friary of the love of God that sustains and nourishes His people.
The completion of this phase of restoration of the Friary church encourages each of us to think about the deeper reality of our Church building and we the people who are Church, who in this place come to praise, bless and preach; to sacrifice, intercede and thank; to bow and genuflect; to honour, consecrate and commune; to absolve and commission. Here in this place the most extraordinary thing occurs; bread and wine becomes Christ’s body and blood. But here too, we the faithful become what we receive and so our reopening is also an important moment for us to reflect on the Church as the Body of Christ. The People of God are more truly the Church than the chapels they build. Our faith therefore, the same faith that inspired our forebears to build the Friary church, the same faith that gathers us together in that same church, week in and week out, was never meant to be shut up or confined to the four walls of a Church building.
Churches really come alive when every single member of the congregation hears God’s call and serves in the way God is asking them to do by using their own individual gifts and talents. People often think that it is only those of us who wear vestments, who “Minister”. But actually, the majority of Ministry is done by people who are not bishops, priests or deacons, but by ordinary women and men doing extraordinary things with God and for God because of their faith and their personal relationship with the Lord. We all know that the Church is constantly called to self-reflection and renewal. The reopening of our Friary Church is one such occasions that offers us that opportunity to reflect on the type of faith community we want to have. To begin a conversation about ministry and renewal… all renewal ,, begins with the individual… at ground level. We have to begin with the call to renew our own individual faith, our own personal commitment and then from there -, collectively as a faith community, we recognise that together, we all have a role, we all belong, we all have a responsibility to strengthen our faith, be confident in it and then be willing, together, to share that faith through a variety or role and ministries: Worship, Education, Service, Community & Administration. The journey of faith was never meant to be taken alone and the building up of this faith community would be impossible if I, or anyone else, tried to do it alone. That’s not what Jesus wants for us… he doesn’t ask us to do the impossible. He wants us rather, to be sisters and brothers to each other, to travel the journey of faith with one another, to love, support and encourage one another, listen to one another and to build up a community of welcome with one another, for one another but also to extend the hand of welcome and invitation to others. That is fundamentally what the Church is meant to be, not an organisation that fails to speak to my heart… not an empty building or mausoleum to the past… but a community, illumined by the light of Christ’s mercy, compassion, forgiveness and healing.
The reopening of our newly restored, and much loved Friary Church is an opportunity for all of us to reflect and begin a new conversation about what we doing that works, and what are the areas in our shared ministry that needs work. It begins by proposing, not imposing. It is a call to ministry, not from me or the Carmelite Community, but through the community from Jesus himself. He calls you to himself through ministry, not for His own sake or for the Church’s sake but for your sake and the sake of the people’s whose lives you can touch.