Parishioners Past and Present Welcomed Back to St Mary’s Crumlin on 75th Anniversary
“A faithful community built this church and out of it grew an amazing worshipping community.”
St Mary’s Church in Crumlin was filled with current parishioners and old friends on Sunday evening for a special service to mark its 75th anniversary. During the service the congregation renewed their baptism vows and some of the very first people to be baptised in the church gathered around the font with some of those who were most recently baptised.
The preacher was the Bishop of Cashel, Ferns and Ossory, the Rt Revd Michael Burrows, whose father Canon Walter Burrows was appointed to Crumlin Parish in 1937 and presided over the planning and building of the new St Mary’s Church which was consecrated in 1942.
People travelled from far and wide to attend the service and many more who could not be present sent messages of congratulations. Clergy who robed for the service included Canon Adrienne Galligan, Canon Leslie Crampton and the Revd Willie Black and Shona Rusk diocesan reader from St Laurence’s in Chapelizod also assisted. More clergy, who grew up and had their vocations nurtured in the parish were in the congregation and were remembered during the service. Past choir members joined the current choir and many who had celebrated special days in the church returned.
In his sermon, Bishop Burrows said he was proud to attend the service. Thinking back to events of 1942 he said he could never hope to achieve or rival what had happened in the parish in the 1940s in an atmosphere of poverty and in the middle of a war. “A faithful community built this church and out of it grew an amazing worshipping community,” he stated adding that it was a new community on a fresh journey and this all took place in living memory.
The Bishop said he was never a resident in the parish. By the time he was born his parents had moved to Dundrum. “But I was brought up on the wholesome humour of this place,” he stated before recalling many stories from his father’s ministry in the parish and his visits to people in the parish when he was a child.
When his father crafted the church, Bishop Burrows said, he wanted a place where the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper could be celebrated with dignity so the sanctuary in St Mary’s is huge. “The sanctuary of this church is very dear and special to me. I think of it as a place of Eucharistic focus,” he commented. Through the Eucharist the Church continues to remember Jesus as if they were actually in the Upper Room, he said. In St Mary’s the events of 1942 are still remembered by people who were there but at the 100th anniversary there will not be people who remember the beginning, he suggested.
The Bishop said that the Eucharist also offered a foretaste of the future, a taste of heaven. “As we anticipate the future in heaven we should also learn to live comfortably on earth with whatever God’s future will be,” he said. He explained that his father had an ability to live ahead of himself and say: “Won’t it be great. When it happens it will be of God”. He cited the east wall of St Mary’s which remained blank until 1982 when a cross, which would have been unthinkable in 1942, was placed on it. “Don’t be afraid of the future. The future is already God’s and the message of Easter is that Christ is always going ahead to a future which is God’s,” he said.
He concluded by revealing that the consecration was an extraordinary event with all the bishops in the Church of Ireland in attendance and the Archbishop of Armagh, John Gregg, presiding. In his sermon Archbishop Gregg could not bring himself to say that the church was beautiful. “Seventy–five years on let us lay that to rest – this is a supremely beautiful place in terms of what it has been. It is a place of great spiritual energy… It is a place of sublime beauty mostly because of its people,” he stated.
Closing the service the Revd Willie Black thanked the Rector for all she had done in making the evening a reality. The congregation adjourned to the parish hall where a cake was cut by long standing organist Joy Elliott.