Monday, July 08, 2024

Community comes together to keep doors of Tipperary church open

Franciscans bade sad farewell ...

A Clonmel church that was closed last year has celebrated the first anniversary of its reopening as a place of prayer.

The Franciscans departed Clonmel in January of 2023. 

There was some concern locally that the Friary church in Abbey Street would be lost as a place of worship, given its historical place in Clonmel’s past.

At the time of its closure a group of concerned members of the community met and a steering group was formed to examine options.

The normal obstacles were examined – how the project would be financed, how would it be managed.

However, there was one common and clear objective - that the church should remain open, if at all possible, and should not be lost as a place of worship for the Clonmel community.

This was underpinned by remarks made by the Bishop of Waterford and Lismore, Most Rev Alphonsus Cullinan, at the final Mass celebrated on the departure of the Franciscans on January 5 2023, when he said “it will be up to the people of Clonmel whether this church remains closed”.

Under the chairmanship of Rev Fr John Treacy, Parish Priest of Ss Peter and Paul’s, an agreement was reached with the Franciscans and the church reopened within five months of closing, on the Feast of St Anthony June 2023 - a year ago.

Many were sceptical that this could be done without a resident priest, but thanks to the cooperation of many people it has gone well. 

The church celebrates two Masses a week and it is open for daily prayer between 11am and 4pm.

Some considerable progress has been made in the first year to improve how the church functions.

The heating system, which had been misfunctioning for some years, was replaced last year with a new system and is now fully operational.