260 Years of Inner City Worship Celebrated at St Thomas’s Church
Friends of St Thomas’s Church on Cathal Brugha Street in Dublin 1 gathered just before Christmas to celebrate the 260th anniversary of its foundation. The service took place on the Feast of St Thomas the Apostle and was led by Archbishop Michael Jackson. While the current church building is less than 100 years old, it is located on the oldest church site in continuous use in Dublin 1.
The service was attended by representatives of the Indian Orthodox Church who use St Thomas’s for worship and members of Discovery Gospel Choir who are based in the church. Members of Dublin City Interfaith Forum and Dublin Council of Churches were also present and representatives of nearby churches including Abbey Street Methodist Church Minister, the Revd Dr Laurence Graham and Fr Paddy Gleeson representing St Mary’s Pro Cathedral.
The nearby Church of Ireland parishes of St Ann’s, Drumcondra and North Strand and the Christ Church Cathedral Group were also represented along with members of the church’s oversight committee. Former Bishop’s Curate of the parish, the Revd Katherine Poulton, also attended.
Speaking during the service, the Archbishop recalled the visit of Pope Francis to Ireland in August 2018. During his brief time in Dublin Pope Francis passed St Thomas’s twice and the Archbishop noted that a tremendous effort was made to ensure that he noticed the church. He thanked the congregation for coming to the service to ensure that the “fresh water of worship continued in the church and that the church continued to flourish”.
In his sermon, Archbishop Jackson looked at the life of Thomas. He said that too much energy went into agonising over what and why Thomas doubted. The words Jesus said to Thomas after he had seen Jesus’s wounds – “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe” were the call of Thomas to active mission, the Archbishop said.
Jesus raised Thomas up to be one of the most wonderful world missionaries – he was to the East what Paul was to the Mediterranean and the West, the Archbishop said. “Both of them were unlikely leaders. Both of them were fallen failures. So why were they chosen? It was because they were learning servants. That is what we are called in our day to be: learning servants,” he added.
St Thomas’s current building is unique in having been paid for by the Irish Free State Government as compensation for the original building’s destruction in the Civil War in 1922. During its reconstruction, Cathal Brugha Street itself was formed.
The foundation stone of the first St Thomas’s Church was laid in 1758 on land granted by the Right Honorable Charles Gardiner. Since then St Thomas’s has witnessed many changes in both Dublin city’s development and its local Protestant population. In 1825 for example there were 17,108 members of St Thomas’s Parish.
In April 2017, the Parish was closed and the church, which is now in diocesan control, has begun to seek new opportunities to build upon 260 years of Christian worship and service in the area.