THE parish and community in Maguiresbridge is a hub of activity and hype as plans are finalised to celebrate the 200th anniversary of St Mary’s Church and its founding priest, Fr Andrew McGonnell.
Fr McGonnell is somewhat of an ‘illusive figure’, with little known of his background and journey to becoming the curate in Maguiresbridge.
A team of researchers, including Noreen Maye, delved into the history books in recent time and ‘became mesmerized’ with their findings.
They discovered that the Monaghan man died 200 years ago, in November 1822.
Fr McGonnell was interred under the floor of St Mary’s Church in Maguiresbridge.
A range of activities have been planned for November as a joint-celebration of Fr McGonnell’s life and the establishment of St Mary’s Church, which is also celebrating its 200th anniversary.
“There has been quite a bit of interest from parishioners recently and we felt that we could not let the date go by without commemorating it,” explained Noreen Maye, one of the organisers of the celebration.
There is a real need to celebrate the forgotten former priest [Fr McGonnell], and at the same time, celebrate this special anniversary.”
On Sunday 20 November, Bishop Larry Duffy, the Bishop of Clogher, is set to lead a celebration Mass.
Plans are in place to live stream the service in the Lisnaskea Parish Centre, for anyone unable to attend the Mass.
There are also plans ‘to involve all of the community’.
Members of the parish, especially the older generation of people, are being urged to record their memories of St Mary’s Church and Fr McGonnell. These will then be published on social media and shared with the wider community.
The local GAA club, Maguiresbridge St Mary’s, is set to play Truagh Gaels in a challenge game. The Monaghan side is the native club of Fr McGonnell.
Three local schools, St Mary’s Maguiresbridge, St Ronan’s Lisnaskea and Bunscoil An Traonaigh are all working on different aspects of the celebration.
St Ronan’s is researching a project on Fr McGonnell, the pupils at St Mary’s have carried out extensive research on the establishment of the church and Bunscoil An Traonaigh is writing a hyme or prayer in Irish for the special Mass.
Other plans in the early stages of development include the erection of a plaque with a list of names for all of their parish priests, a memorial stone erected in the graveyard at St Mary’s Church in memory of all deceased babies and infants and a commemorative booklet.
Canon Jimmy McPhilips has applied for a ‘Papal Plenary Indulgence’ from the Pope.
At the time of going to print, they are still ‘waiting for it to come through.’
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