One of the largest Catholic churches in Dublin is to be demolished to make way for a much smaller building accommodating 350 worshippers instead of 3,500.
The scaled-back building on the site of the Church of the Annunciation in Finglas West on the city’s north side will also allow social housing to be built alongside it.
The current church opened in 1967 when John Charles McQuaid was archbishop of Dublin and there was a vogue for building very large churches.
However, the fall-off in regular Mass attendances in recent years have left such churches underused and parishes have also struggled with high maintenance and running costs.
Parish priest Fr Éamann Cahill said Finglas West parish had struggled for many years with extensive building problems in their church.
“Following recent research, discussion and much analysis, the parish pastoral council, the finance committee and the parish team agreed that it would be best to replace the present church building with a new church.”
He said the proposal had been discussed at a public meeting at which there was a clear majority in favour of building a new church.
The Dublin archdiocese had agreed with the plan and given the parish great support.
The new church building will include pastoral facilities, such as meeting rooms, a coffee/tea dock and offices.
In a posting on the parish website Fr Cahill said “preparations are well under way but it will take time. We will need lots of support, planning permission and a budget to see us through.”
Coda Architects has been asked to examine a replacement for the current church building.
Fr Cahill said many of the priests in Finglas West would reach retirement age in a few years and it was likely the number of priests serving the area would be halved.”
He noted how “in times of crisis in Ireland – for example, in penal times – faithful Christians took responsibility for the faith, and were supported only by an occasional visit from a priest to celebrate the sacraments. It is the same in many parts of the world today”.