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A Word of Thanks

A Word of Thanks – Fr. Gerald Powell

My father Frank Powell was born in Keady, Co. Armagh. God rest him.

Keady was a poor place in the early 1900’s and many of the people emigrated but many came to Gilford to work in the mill. In fact, we have a street called ‘Keady Row’. As we celebrate the rededication of our church, we reflect on a community that over the years overcame many adversities. The richness and quality of life within the Gilford district were sustained by the depth and quality of faith that survived the hardships of past generations. It is hoped that it reflects the ways their forbearers faced the problems of their days and retained their faith and culture and that the present generation will gain a better appreciation of the values that have been handed down.

I have found Gilford to be a community buoyant with a spirit of hope for the future. The people are a resilient, resurrection people with doses of patience and tolerance. You have borne the inconvenience of not having your church for 18 months – now at least we are back in the church – your own place of worship. The new marble and wood, glass and stone have harmonised into a unity of construction symbolising a newer, better parish spirit built out of individuals who are willing to knit themselves into a Pobal De – the people of God.

I thank you for your remarkable generosity in our appeal. I hope you are happy with the result and I will pray for all who have been involved in the planning and construction. We ask the Lord to give success to the work of their hands.

I thank our architect, Paul Monaghan, for the expeditious way he has completed a very fine job, especially your attention to detail in the design of the altar furniture and the overall restoration.

Full credit to the building contractor Paul Rainey, to Eamon McGrath the foreman and other members of Paul’s excellent team of workers and sub-contractors.

Thank you to our Bishop, Dr John McAreavey, for performing the rededication ceremony and for all your interest, advice and encouragement in this project.

Thank you to Father Arthur MacNeill for concelebrating and his assistance to me over the past 12 months as curate in Gilford. I wish you and Canon Des Knowles, who planned and began this project, continued good health to enjoy their retirement.

We are also very grateful to Fr. Feidlimidh and the Diocesan Finance Committee for the necessary permission to proceed with this project.

I would like to thank the members of the Cathedral Chapter who are with us, the neighbouring priests and former curates of the parish. Welcome back!

A very warm welcome to fellow Christians from other Christian denominations who join us today. Thank you for coming.

This church was erected in 1850 by Fr. John Byrne, parish priest of Tullylish. So it is fitting that the liturgy today should be entrusted to another Fr. John Byrne, curate in St. Peter’s Parish, Lurgan, who acted as Master of Ceremonies and kept everything flowing. He was ably assisted by our two seminarians of the diocese who are studying in Maynooth, Stephen Crossan from Bleary and James Doran from Banbridge. We all wish you every blessing and success in your studies. As usual our altar servers performed their duties very well and you can look back with pride in future years and say that you served at the rededication mass.

I would like to thank the Parish Finance Committee who considered and approved the capital expenditure and also the Restoration Committee who met frequently throughout the period of reconstruction. Their suggestions were always appreciated and taken into consideration. Thank you to Ciara and Catherine in the Parish Office for their valuable assistance.

A word of thanks to our lectors and ministers of the Eucharist, collectors and to all who took part in the Offertory Procession from St. John’s Primary School and the community. Special praise must go to Bernie Scullion for the beautiful floral arrangements.

The choir sang ‘this is holy ground, we’re standing on holy ground’ and that was expressed in a very wonderful way with the beautiful singing of our combined parish choirs and the children from St. John’s P.S. under the direction of our organist Miss Mary McCann, ably assisted by Pauline Power from St. John’s. Well done for all your hard work.

We look forward to meeting you afterwards for light refreshments in the G.C.C. Hall. Thank you to Noel Conlon and his dedicated committee for accommodating us during the period of renovation. Much appreciated.

In 1878 the Bishop of Dromore, Dr. Pius Leahy, requested Fr. Bernard O’Hagan, PP of Tullylish, to undertake a lecture tour of the USA and Canada to raise funds to provide a school in Gilford and repair Laurencetown church. Only a man of gifted talent, academic excellence and literary genius could have undertaken such a trip to America. If you don’t see me around for a few months, you know where I will be!

I have prayed and hoped for this day.

Your ongoing encouragement gives me hope for the future.

Thank you to one and all.



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