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New pastoral centre for Newtownpark parish

By Cian Molloy - 29 October, 2018

"We want to be bringing people into the Church as much as possible. This new pastoral centre is going to really help us to do that.” – Fr Dermot Leycock

A new pastoral centre was opened at the Church of the Guardian Angels in Newtownpark in Dublin yesterday by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin.

Parish priest Fr Dermot Leycock said the centre was a badly needed amenity, and would be used “for everything and anything”.

Although Newtownpark is a predominantly middle-class parish, it has relatively few community resources and leisure facilities. For example, there is no parish GAA club and the main shopping hubs are in the neighbouring parishes of Blackrock and Stillorgan.

“This centre will be much used for all kinds of activities,” said Fr Leycock. “We already have a roster of 150 volunteers who will help us with the running of activities for everyone from toddlers to teenagers and on to senior citizens. There will be a Montessori School here and there will be ballet lessons. It’s going to be so busy.

“We are setting up a new seniors’ club, modelled on what was developed in Killester parish 12 years ago. A lot of senior citizens in the parish only leave the home to go to the shops, go to church and go to the doctor or the dentist. Now they will be able to drop in to the coffee dock at the pastoral centre to meet their friends. All kinds of activities will be organised from here, for example, trips to places like Killarney with all of them using the free travel.”

The coffee dock is big enough to cater on its own for the numbers of people attending daily and Sunday Masses. The meeting room has the capacity to host larger events like wedding receptions or birthday celebrations.

Outside the pastoral centre, much thought and effort has been put into the planting scheme, to create an area that can be used during good weather. “It is a real oasis of peace and tranquillity,” said Fr Leycock.

Blessed and opened by Archbishop John Charles McQuaid in 1967, the Church of the Guardian Angels had one of the largest seating capacities of any church on Dublin’s south side, but some years ago the interior was remodelled slightly, with seating removed to create a gathering area just inside the church doors.

“It means that, say after a funeral Mass, people can mix with one another and console the bereaved without everyone standing outside in the cold and bad weather.”

“The Church is about liturgy and about life. I never understood why so much Church-related activity happens outside the doors of the church. We want to be bringing people into the Church as much as possible. This new pastoral centre is going to really help us to do that,” Fr Leycock said.

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