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Immigrants giving ailing Church a new energy

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Date Published: 05-May-2011

It’s been a bad few years for the Catholic Church in Ireland. An institution that was already in decline, with fewer vocations and more members opting to ignore Rome’s decrees, has been rocked by child abuse scandals and terrible tales of official cover ups.

But the Lord works in mysterious ways and, in some areas at least, the Catholic Church is thriving, with new energy thanks to the involvement of immigrants from India, Eastern Europe and Africa.

Nowhere is this more obvious than in the suburbs of Roscam and Doughiska on the eastern side of Galway city, where the Good Shepherd parish was established four years ago under the auspices of the Bishop of Galway, Dr Martin Drennan, to cater for this rapidly growing part of Galway.

A survey carried out in 2009 showed the area had a population of some 7,300 with over 70 per cent of the adults being Catholic. And the fact that the parish has 111 boys and girls for First Communion this year tells its own story

Seventy-six per cent of the Massgoers in the Good Shepherd parish are Irish. That’s followed by Indians, Africans, Polish and other Eastern Europeans. The mix is obvious at a packed Sunday Mass on May Day in the parish’s temporary accommodation at the Castlegar Sports Centre. The altar servers are African, one of the readings is given by an African, the other by an Eastern European, and the church ushers and Ministers of the Eucharist are Irish. It is a real melting pot, with people from 33 different nationalities in the parish. There are kids everywhere and the ceremonial dresses of the African women add a vibrant flash of colour to proceedings.

The hall where Mass is being said – rented from the Castlegar GAA – is spartan, with plain walls and tape markings on the floor that identify its intended purpose as a sports hall. But the atmosphere is upbeat, with everybody joining in the singing – the words of the hymns are projected onto a large screen beside the altar so everybody can take part.

Mary Okafor from Boireann Beag, is three years in the parish, having come here from Nigeria.

While Irish people celebrate Mass differently, “this is the nearest thing to home”, she observes of the Good Shepherd Mass. She is accompanied by a friend from another parish in the city. “I keep telling her this is best,” says Mary.

 

Certainly the Good Shepherd has an energy that many places would envy.

After Mass, tea and biscuits are served in an adjoining room and many people stay on for a chat, making Mass a real social event, which it traditionally was in Irish parishes. The difference here is that these Catholics come from all over the world.

“Faith brings people together; they share that common entity and they start to get to know each other,” says Nuala Keady, who is in charge of the rota for the Mass readings. She feels the Good Shepherd parish is playing a valuable role establishing a community in this city suburb.

The people charged by Bishop Drennan with setting up the parish were Fr Martin Glynn and Sr Laura Boyle. Fr Martin, who was initially appointed as chaplain to the area by Bishop Drennan’s predecessor, Bishop James McLaughlin is still here. For him, the defining aspect of this parish is the input of so many nationalities.

“The diversity of cultures is one of the big differences; people’s willingness to participate and their readiness to sing. For instance, there is no choir as such, it’s congregational singing.”

Another worshipper, enjoying the post Mass cup of tea thinks that Ireland’s newest Catholics “are a lot more religious than we are”.

 

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Galway Bay FM News Archives

Retail industry trade body welcomes B&Q announcement

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Date Published: 07-May-2013

Retail Excellence Ireland, the country’s largest retail industry trade body, has welcomed the news that 60 jobs have been saved at the city branch of B&Q.

It’s after the home improvements store successfully exited examinership.

Under the scheme, 2.4 million euro is to be invested by parent company Kingfisher plc, and B and Q will continue to trade at eight stores

This means 640 jobs have been saved nationwide, including 60 at the outlet in Knocknacarra.

However, David Fitzsimons of Retail Excellence Ireland says landlords need to be willing to help out smaller retailers too.

 

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Galway Bay FM News Archives

Foundation reports nine Galway heart deaths each week

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Date Published: 09-May-2013

Nine people die in Galway every week from heart disease and stroke.

That’s according to the Irish Heart Foundation, which is launching its Happy Hearts Appeal today. (9/5)

An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, launched the appeal today to help raise funds for the charity, which has seen increasing demand on its patient services.

The Foundation says it needs to raise at least half a million euro to maintain existing information services.

 

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Galway Bay FM News Archives

Call to tackle delays at Oranmore rail crossing

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Date Published: 13-May-2013

Concerns have been raised over traffic delays at the railway crossing in Oranmore.

Councillor Jim Cuddy says he has received many representations from local motorists who have been experiencing extended delays.

He says the closed barrier can sometimes cause a traffic tailback as far as the roundabout near the Maldron hotel.

Cllr Cuddy has brought the matter to the attention of Iarnrod Eireann and has asked for an explanation as to why the crossing is closed for so long.

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