Seapatrick Parish Mission came to an end after a week giving all who attended the opportunity to focus on their relationship with God, with each other, and the wider Christian Community.
Very Rev Father Ciarán O’Callaghan and Very Rev Father Noel Kehoe led the many celebrations which actively involved children, teenagers, parents and grandparents in worshipping together.
The Choirs of St Thérèse and St Patrick’s Churches and the Parish Folk Choir led the music and congregational singing.
One of the key events was the ‘Blessing of Babies and Young Children’. The lively participation of the youngest children, their laughter and openness was appreciated by the congregation.
At the Sunday Evening Celebration parishioners renewed their Baptismal commitment.
The procession of the Baptism Team, the presence of the most recently baptised child and her parents, the display of the Baptismal Register in which the first child baptised in the parish is entered, and the symbolism of water and light made this service deeply meaningful.
The baptism of the two little babies, Margaret Loy, baptised in 1843 and Isabelle Mary Austin in 2015 emphasised the continuity of faith and evoked the feeling of “belonging”.
The theme of healing was explored during the Monday evening service. Again the rich symbolism, the choice of music and the active participation of the congregation and Eucharistic Ministers enriched the worship.
One of the many highlights of the Mission was ‘Belonging in Community’ which celebrated the range of groups who work for the Parish and the Community. The procession of the sixty representatives of the groups, each one carrying a candle or a poster gave a visual demonstration of talents put to use on behalf of others.
‘Belonging in Family’ involved members of the congregation in a drama highlighting some of the frustrations and worries of family life from the perspective of a mother, a father, a teenager, a sporty younger child and a grandparent.
At the Service of Reconciliation, many priests from the diocese including Canon Liam Stevenson and Father Stephan Crossan were present when Father Ciarán O’Callaghan and Father Noel Kehoe led the congregation in a reflection on the effects of sinfulness in our lives.
The aridity and joylessness was conveyed symbolically in a depiction of a desert scene. All present were given a stone which represented the pain and powerlessness in us if we cannot repent and let go.
‘This is something we should do more often.’ was the most common response to ‘The Inter- church Songs of Praise’. It certainly was a key event and a highlight of the Mission which was also attended by Bishop John McAreavey.
Canon Stevenson welcomed the Ministers from Banbridge Methodist Church, Bannside Presbyterian Church, Holy Trinity Church, The Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church, Scarva/Lougnbrickand Presbyterian Church and the members of their congregations who had joined them.
The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul organised a Mass for the elderly and the sick on Saturday 7 March.
The mission was brought to a close at each of the Sunday Masses, culminating with a Family Mass at 12.00 noon. The Mission brought great blessings to the Parish and to the parishioners.
Canon Stevenson and Father Crossan expressed the gratitude of the parishioners and congratulated Father Ciarán, now Vicar Provincial of the Redemptorist Order in Ireland and Father Noel, now Rector in Clonard Monastery in Belfast.