By Susan Gately - 04 February, 2017
The large iconic church in Finglas West, the Church of the Annunciation, which can cater for over 3,000 people, is to be demolished and replaced with a smaller church for 350 people, a parish centre, a coffee dock and offices.
According to parish priest Fr Eamonn Cahill, the decision was reached following “research, discussion and much analysis” in conjunction with the Parish Pastoral Council, the Finance Committee, the Parish Team and through a public meeting.
The decision also has the backing of the Dublin diocese.
“The wonderful parish of Finglas West has struggled for many years with extensive building problems in their church,” said Fr Cahill in a posting on the parish website. The consultation process led to the decision that “it would be best to replace the present church building with a new church”.
This proposal was discussed at a public meeting where there was a clear majority in favour of building a new church. The Archdiocese agrees with this plan and has given the parish great support. It is also proposed to build some pastoral facilities with the new church, he wrote.
“There are many beautiful features in our present church and we want to include some in the new building – the new being enhanced by the old.”
Fr Cahill said preparations were under way but it would take time. “We will need lots of support, planning permission and a budget to see us through. While it is early days yet, we have received very strong support and best wishes,” he concluded.
Finglas West was formally established as a parish in 1962 with a small tin church at its centre, located just in front of the entrance to the Church of the Annunciation. In July 1964 the turning of the first sod of the new church took place, with work commencing the following year. It finally opened on 8 October 1967.
A joint message from the clergy and Parish Pastoral Councils of the Finglas Faith Community, also posted on the website, said that in a few years many of the priests in Finglas will reach retirement age and the number of priests will be halved.
“Will this present a crisis or will it be an opportunity to build a new kind of faith community?” they ask.
They continue: “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. This can make for a stronger or a weaker church. More people than ever before are in training for the many different roles which the future Church needs. The former narrow idea of vocation is now much broader.”
A new way of living the Christian life is being born for those living in our parishes, the posting continues. “In the future, committed Christians will serve and reach out to the wider community. Parishioners will be the heart and the spirit for the greater Finglas population, and a vital part of its life.”
The Church of the Annunciation can hold 3,500 people. Generally, it has a small Mass-going congregation, but around 2,000 people attend key services like the Christmas Eve Mass. According to an Irish Times report, Coda Architects has been asked to examine a replacement for the current church building.