Down and Connor Diocesan Newsletter
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Royal Visit for Historic Belfast Church
Their Royal Highnesses, The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall paid a visit to St. Patrick’s Church, Donegall Street on the 21st May 2015.  St. Patrick’s celebrated its 200th anniversary in March, and the visit is one of the highlights in the Parish’s year-long calendar of celebrations.  It was the royal couple’s first engagement in Northern Ireland on their four-day tour of the Island.

Accompanied by the Lord Lieutenant of Belfast, Fionnula Jay-O’Boyle, the royal visitors were warmly welcomed by Parish Administrator, Fr Michael Sheehan.  Also there to greet them were civic and religious leaders.  First Minister, Peter Robinson, and Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness, along with Belfast Lord Mayor, Arder Carson, were in attendance.  So too were representatives of the four main Christian denominations, including Bishop of Down and Connor, Dr Noel Treanor.

Before their departure, Fr Michael, on behalf of the priests and people of the Parish, gifted the couple with a specially-commissioned painting by Dublin artist, Eve Parnell.  It is a depiction of St. Brigid from Lavery’s altarpiece.  A presentation of traditional Aran knitwear was also made to the royal couple’s grandchildren, Prince George and Princess Charlotte. 

For the full story and more pictures visit the Down and Connor website here
Quick Journey Through the Bible
Recently, the Quick Journey Through the Bible course ran in the Sacred Heart Parish in Belfast. The course saw members from the Sacred Heart parish and surrounding parishes taking part together. In the above video, participants explain how they became involved, what they had experienced during the course and what advice they would give to others beginning it. 
Portstewart Inter-Church Civic Project

The Portstewart Inter-Church Civic Project
6 local Church leaders from Portstewart nominated members from their congregations to become involved in discussions to explore the influence churches could have if they were to work together on issues that impact on Portstewart.  Following a number of meetings which have included discussions with local councillors, statutory and community representatives, church leaders want to strengthen the process through the formation of a new cohesive group.

The group will be know as Portstewart Inter-Church Civic Project (PICCP) and will operate in a strategic capacity. The churches involved are Agherton Church of Ireland, Burnside Presbyterian, Portstewart Baptist, , Portstewart Methodist, Portstewart Presbyterian, and Star of the Sea Roman Catholic.  The group’s role will include the creation of networks, seeking additional resources for the whole community and support for the local society at a time of significant change in Government.
A community audit will be distributed to all homes.  You are encouraged to complete the simple questionnaire and return to one of the collection points. The proposed themes of the work may include a community bank, youth activity, care for older people, improvement of services and engagement with respect to proposals for regeneration in Portstewart and active Community Consultation.  Other areas will be identified by the audit.
The group is supported by a number of local organizations and the Irish Churches Peace Project.
Holy Family Parish Mission

On 9th May, twenty-six members of the Ceili Community were warmly welcomed to Holy Family Parish. During the first week of the Mission the Visitation Team called with over 2400 households in the Parish with an invitation to attend the Mission and to ask God’s blessing on every family. 

Meanwhile the School Teams were working with the pupils in Holy Family PS, St Therese of Lisieux PS and Little Flower Girls’ School. 
The young people were inspirational – their whole hearted energy, creativity and enthusiasm shone out. The School Team also held discussion groups and assemblies with students in St. Patrick’s College ‘Bearnageeha’ and Dominican College, Fortwilliam. 

During the second week of the Mission an extensive programme of opportunities for prayer, reflection, participation in para-Liturgies and Mass was offered. 

We sincerely thank Father Paul Strain Adm., the members of the Ceili Community, the Principals and Staff of the schools and all those who generously helped with planning and organising the tremendous experience which helped us to made real our Parish vision of being  ‘ a praying, caring community, centred in Christ’. 

Read the full story and see more images from the two week mission here

Ordination of Rev. James O'Reilly to the Diaconate on 31st May 2015

James O’Reilly from the Down and Connor Diocese, along with 8 other men, reached a milestone in their priestly formation yesterday, Trinity Sunday, when they were ordained deacons by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of Ireland, during a Mass celebrated in College Chapel of the national seminary, Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth.  The congregation, of approximately five hundred people, was made of family, friends, seminarians, deacons and priests.

Many congratulations to Rev. James O’Reilly on achieving this milestone. Our prayers and best wishes are with Rev. O’Reilly during his Diaconate.

Read the full story here

Methodist Modern Art Collection in Ballymena
Some of the parishioners and friends who gathered for a prayer service in All Saints' Church as part of the celebrations based around the visit of the Methodist Modern Art Collection to Ballymena.

The exhibition continues in the Braid Arts Centre until the 18th June.

Look up the times and location here

Down and Connor Annual Pilgrimage to Knock

The Down and Connor Annual Pilgrimage to Knock will take place on Sunday 14 June with Bishop Anthony Farquhar as the main celebrant.
The ceremonies are as follows:
2.30pm:          The Anointing of the Sick
3.00pm:          Concelebrated Mass followed by Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, Rosary Procession to the Shrine and blessing of religious objects.
Further information is available from those who are organizing the pilgrimage in your parish or from Father Colin Grant, Aquinas Diocesan Grammar School, Belfast BT6 0BY.
Telephone Number: 028 9064 3939.
Theology of The Body Down and Connor
When John Paul II was elected Pope in 1978 he knew that people needed to understand the 'why' behind the 'what’ of Catholic moral teaching if it was to have meaning in their lives.  Pope John Paul wanted to demonstrate to the world the beauty of God’s plan for human sexuality and the joy of living it.  He did this in his teaching: The Theology of the Body. 

Bishop Noel Treanor has approved the TOB Team (Fr Peter O’Kane, Maureen McLaughlin, Jacinta Crockford, Joe Drew) to bring St John Paul II’s teaching to the parishes and schools in the Diocese of Down & Connor.  To date the Team has successfully run the adult faith formation programme An Introduction To The Theology of the Body: Discovering The Master Plan For Your Life in the parishes of Holywood, Ballymena and St Michael’s during the past year. 

For more information go to TOB Down & Connor Website:
Launch of the Diploma in Pastoral Theology at Drumalis

Pictured at the recent launch of the Diploma in Pastoral Theology in Drumalis from left to right is Maura Burns, Fr. Martin McAlinden Director of Pastoral Theology at Maynooth, Sr. Margaret Rose McSparran CP, Fr Perry Gildea CM

It will be a two-year, part-time intensive  course which will beginning in September at Drumalis, Larne.

  • Do you want to study and reflect on Christian life and ministry and the way ordained and lay ministry complement each other?
  • Would you like to combine a study of pastoral theology with the acquisition of new skills and supervised practical experience of ministry?
  • Are you willing to listen and to share the journey with others?

If your answers are ‘yes’, perhaps the Diploma in Pastoral Theology is for you.

Further information about the course is available from the Drumalis website –

Alternatively, please contact the centre directly during office hours (Mon-Fri, 9 am – 5 pm)

Telephone 02828 276455/02828 272196 

Living Church Down & Connor Lough Derg Pilgrimage
The third Living Church Lough Derg 3 day Pilgrimage will take place this year from Friday 3rd July to Sunday 5th July 2015. The pilgrimage will be the traditional three day format.  
The cost of the pilgrimage is £60.00.  The cost does not include travel to the island. For details of travel arrangements and to book a place please call the Living Church Office on 02890690920 or email  by Friday 12th June.

Registration form is available here
Upcoming Events 2015
Interchurch Art Venture, Ballymena 11th May to 18th June. Full details here
Lough Derg Three Day Pilgrimage Season 29th May to 13th August 2015. Link to the online brochure here.
Living Faith: Go Proclaim the Gospel, Ballymena 6th June, 1.30pm to 5.00pm. Full details here
The Pilgrim Life: The Gospel of Mark, Drumalis 7th June, 10.00am to 4.30pm. Full details here
A Quick Journey Through the Psalms 8th June to 29th June in Sacred Heart Parish, Belfast. Full details here.
Down and Connor Annual Pilgrimage to Knock  14th June. Full details here.
Annual Pilgrimage and Mass on St Patrick’s Mountain, Saul 14th June, 3.00pm. Full details are available here.
Clonard Novena 17th to 25th June. Full details available here.
SAVE THE DATE  Vespers in Good Shepherd Church 19th June, 7.00pm. Full details here
SAVE THE DATE  St Columbanus Commemorative Celebrations, Bangor 20th June, 9.30am to 8.00pm. Full details here
Rise of the Roses Summer Tour 20th June with the Adoration Sisters, Falls Road. Full details here
National Commemoration of St Columbanus, Armagh 21st June, 11.00am. Full details here.
Celebration of the Eucharistic, Special Youth Session: Clonard Solemn Novena 21st June, 8pm. Full details here
Blessing and Dedication of New Pipe Organ 26th June, 7.00 pm. Holy Trinity Church. Full details here.
Ordination of Rev. Conor McCarthy Sunday 28th June
Living Church Down and Connor Lough Derg Pilgrimage 3rd July to 5th July 2015. Link to full details here
Closing date for applications is Friday 12th June
Annual Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes 2015
7 nights
10th -17th July, £625* pps.
Accommodation Hotel Jeanne d’Arc
(*a single room supplement of £25 per night applies) Full details here
SAVE THE DATE Faith and Life Convention 2015 Saturday 26th September 2015 at Our Lady and St Patrick’s College Knock.
Diocese of Down and Connor
Diocese of Down and Connor
Diocese of Down and Connor
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