By Sarah Mac Donald - 24 November, 2014
In his homily at a Mass on Sunday to dedicate a new altar in the inner city church, the Archbishop said it was a parish church “at the very heart of the community”.
He recalled, “When I came here the morning after the disastrous fire, you could experience the shock and the grief in the entire area. Today we come to the final moment in the celebration of the restoration of the church building, with the inauguration of the new organ and the solemn dedication of the new altar.”
Congratulating the Augustinians and all associated with the “wonderful restoration”, Dr Martin said, “Above all I thank the people of this parish of Meath Street and those who have an affection for this church for their determination in seeing this restoration through.”
The protected structure has been completely restored following severe fire damage which occurred in January 2012.
Specialist contractors were employed to restore the stained and leaded glass windows, remedial works to lime render and stonework, floor finishes, decoration, and the complete restoration of an 19th Century Telford & Telford Organ.
Works were also carried out to all fixtures, fittings, Stations of the Cross by professional furniture restorers.
In his homily on Sunday, the Archbishop said the celebration was about looking towards the future.
“We celebrate the restoration of the church and we begin to set priorities for the pastoral mission of the parish in the years to come,” he said.
Referring to Pope Francis uses of the term missionary disciples, the Archbishop said the mission of the Church is a task given not just to priests and deacons and religious, but to every believing Christian.
“We live in a world where there is much inequality, where children do not have the same opportunities not just in different parts of the world, but even in different parts of this city.”
“We live in a world where there is still corruption and violence. People are exploited in many ways and are trafficked and treated as slaves.”
“We live in a world where, alongside great and demonstrative wealth, many have difficulties in making ends meet. We live in a world where we throw away tons of food each week and where we have children coming to school hungry.”
He said the Church is a community where the kingdom of God is preached and lived and the task of Christians is to bring the message of Jesus into the complex situation of the world in which we live, so that the kingdom may be realised in the lives of ourselves and others and in our communities.
Asking what are the priorities that should be looked at in the coming years to foster the missionary activity of the Church in the parish, he said first of all the church doors should not just be open but should be welcoming.
“I sometimes feel that we have put invisible security checks on some of our churches, like at airports, which discourage those who might feel that they do not belong from coming near us,” he commented.
He said he hoped that the parish would strengthen its outreach to those who are on the margins through poverty, through anxiety, or through exclusion or through doubts and uncertainties.
A second area where renewal is needed, he suggested, was in the support of families.
“Too often in today’s world when we talk about the family we talk about problems and about tensions. Family life today is certainly not as easy as it was perhaps in the past. There are many new challenges. But the Christian family is also a special form of mission, supported by the permanent grace of the sacrament of matrimony,” Archbishop Martin said.
The third area he indicated in need of renewal is the outreach to young people to help them understand and embrace the message of Jesus Christ.
He said the celebration of the Eucharist renews our commitment to building a more just and fraternal society, thus anticipating that kingdom of justice, love and peace, for which all humankind longs.
“It is in this sense that we will now dedicate the restored altar. The Rite of the consecration of an altar is one of the most complex of the entire liturgy. The church, with the altar at its centre, is not just an ordinary building. It is not a theatre or concert hall. The church is a building set apart; a sacred space dedicated alone to the worship of the Lord.”