Church of the Immaculate Conception
Sunday, 25 September 2011
My dear friends, brother priests and sisters, people of the Parish of Botha,
Almost every little rural parish inIrelandis steeped in history and has its own story to tell. You are fortunate in this parish in having your own chroniclers. One of your well respected and much loved priests, Fr. Paddy Gallagher, a fellow townsman of my own, along with others, has researched your past and recorded it for posterity. Not only that, Fr. Paddy Gallagher oversaw the renovation of this Church, using the considerable skills of the late Tom Mullarkey (who was I understand a Fermanagh man originally) as architect. I would like to record our gratitude to Sr. Edel Bannon and her committee for including the story of worship in Monea in the excellent little booklet which has been prepared to grace the occasion.
History tells us that there was a chapel on this site built by Fr. James Duffy in 1812. The present Church was built by a very dynamic Parish Priest Fr. Pat Maguire. He was a Cavan man, ordained in Maynooth in 1886 for the diocese of Kilmore. He later joined the diocese of Clogher and, after other appointments, found himself in Monea. He saw the need for a new Church and started a campaign to raise the necessary funds.
The Church was designed by a well known architect of the time, William Scott. The builder was a local, John Flanagan, and the stone was taken from local quarries. The Church was dedicated on the first Sunday of July 1911 by Dr. McKenna, Bishop of Clogher and the sermon was preached by Very Rev. P.A. Beecher, Professor of Sacred Eloquence at Maynooth. The graveyard was also consecrated on the day. The high altar in the Church was a gift from a woman of the parish, Ms. Bridget Gallagher, later ofNew York. The triple stained glass window behind the high altar was a gift of the family of the late Peter Magennis (author and poet).
After the Second Vatican Council, new directions were given by Church authorities on the reorganisation of the sanctuary of Churches. In 1983, the renovation already mentioned was undertaken. The altar was moved forward from the reredos. Side altars and altar rails were removed to extend the sanctuary area. A new lectern, celebrants chair and baptismal font (all in marble) were built by McGroarty of Belleek and Rossnowlagh. New flooring and a new Confessional were the work of Philip Meehan of Derrygonnelly. Amplification and lighting were supplied by Reilly & McGuinness; carpeting was laid by Gosling and Scallon. The painting was the work of the McSherry brothers and tarmacademing was done by Love of Derrygonnelly. It’s a long way from the narrow roads of rural Irelandto the advanced motorway systems of a developed modernEurope. There, service stations are a familiar sight where one can turn off for refuelling or a sandwich. InGermany, the service stations often include a church, offering the weary driver the opportunity for a few moments of peace and quiet and prayer. Many of these ‘Motorway Churches’, as they are called, keep a Visitors’
Book, where weary road-users can record their thoughts and prayers as they go on their journey.
One man wrote out of an anguished reflection on his life : ‘Dear God, please let my wife become the woman she used to be’. The most frequentedMororwayChurchinGermanyis St. Christopher’s, inBavaria, which is in the care of the local Catholic priest and situated on the busy network of roads betweenMunichandBerlin. A B.B.C. journalist did some interviewing there recently.
The head of a textile firm, driving 50,000 miles a year, remarked that in life power comes from silence; and coming into the quiet of St. Christopher’s, gives him the power to get on with his life and business. The managing director of a factory said, “in my life I have to fight for everything. The construction business is an angry business but I must also fight to stay a human being. That is why I come here.” Before the tabernacle, in a few moments of quiet reflection and prayer, in the special presence of God, we can all recover something of our humanity.
There is a well known American minister and preacher called Fred Craddock who tells how he met a man one day in a restaurant. “You a preacher?” the man asked and Fred said “yes.” The man pulled a chair up to Fred’s table. “Preacher, I’ll tell you a story. There was once a little boy who grew up sad. Life was tough because my Mama had me but she had never been married. Do you know how a smallTennesseetown treats people like that? Do you know the words they use to name kids that don’t have a father?”
Well, we never went to Church, nobody asked us. But for some reason or other, we went to Church one night when they was having a revival. They had a big tall preacher visiting to do the revival, and he was all dressed in black. He had a thunderous voice that shook the little church. We sat towards the back, Mama and me. Well that preacher got to preaching, about what I don’t know, stalking up and down the aisle of that little church preaching. It sure was something. After the service, we were slipping out the back door when I felt that big preacher’s hand on my shoulder. I was scared. He looked way down at me, looked me in the eye and says. “Boy, who’s your Daddy?”
“I didn’t have no Daddy.” That’s what I told him in a trembling voice, “I ain’t got no Daddy.” “Oh yes, you do,” boomed that big preacher, “You’re a child of the Kingdom, you have been bought with a price, you are a child of the King!” “I was never the same after that. Preacher, for God’s sake, preach that.” The man pulled his chair away from the table. He extended his hand and introduced himself. Craddock said the name rang a bell. He was a legendary former governor of the state of Tennessee.
My dear parishioners of Botha, you hardly need convincing of the importance of your Church. Your forefathers have expressed their beliefs in the sites, buildings and faith they have passed on to you. You have shown your appreciation in the manner in which you have cared for your Church and the adjoining cemetery where you have laid the bodies of your deceased members at rest. The Church is central to your community and the altar-table has played an important role in reminding you who is the giver of life and who nourishes your minds and hearts with food that enriches your living.
When you gather here for the Eucharist you support each other in your faith and in daily living. You grow in appreciation for all of God’s gifts especially the gift of His Son who taught us how to love one another and who enables us to live in harmony. The Church is the home of the sacraments. It is where God’s grace is given to us in the Word of God; where forgiveness is experienced; where we begin our journey in faith and where we end it. It is a place where God is present in a special way; a place of mystery, a centre of peace and of inspiration.
I commend and congratulate Fr. Lynch, Fr. Quinn and you yourselves, the parishioners, for arranging this celebration. One hundred years of service to the community is quite an achievement. You have suitably marked the occasion in the provision of extra space in the cemetery outside. It will be a privilege for me to bless this extension, as it has been to lead you in this Centenary Mass. I pray that the Church of the Immaculate Conception will continue to be a source of life to this community; that you will continue to draw water from this well of salvation, and that as a result your homes and families will be graced by God’s love and peace. And may those who have gone before us be found worthy of eternal happiness. Amen
+Liam S. MacDaid
Bishop of Clogher
25 September 2011