Portstewart parishioners were in celebratory mood as they marked the centenary of their church of St Mary’s Star of the Sea which was dedicated on 9th July, 1916.
Bishop Noel Treanor celebrated a special Mass and concelebrants were Fr Austin Mc Girr, the Parish Priest, Fr Raymond Mc Cullagh, University Chaplain and Fr Sean Mc Cartney, a native of the parish.
Good wishes were also received from Fr Eamon Adams from Portstewart who is working in Korea as a Columban missionary.
Bishop Treanor expressed his delight at being present “in this place of prayer, worship and Christian charity which people have visited together and alone, in times of joy and sorrow to be re-energised and to regain strength through faith.”
In his wide ranging homily, he focused on that Sunday’s readings emphasising the importance of going far beyond the minimum requirements regarding our treatment of others, in answer to “the heartbeat of our humanity.”
The Bishop referred to the “Centenary History of Star of the Sea”, book published some months ago, which celebrates the achievements of people in the past hundred years and the inventiveness and imagination of today’s organisations and initiatives and points to the future of the parish.
The book was written by local historian and author, Maurice McAleese with assistance from the editorial team of Margaret Campbell, Sean Farren and Roisin McCaughan. Aaron Doherty provided photographs.
Bishop Treanor dwelt on the challenge which demands that future generations care for people in crisis including migrants, asylum seekers and refugees.
He went on to stress the importance of participating in public discourse on issues which are crucial to our survival including respect for the dignity of the human person, care for our world and ways of managing markets. At the close of the homily, he urged the congregation to “salute the work of the last hundred years, take notice of to-day’s work and contribute to the moulding of public opinion on critical issues in the decades ahead.”
Fr Austin Mc Girr thanked Bishop Treanor for his “insightful ,inspiring and challenging words.”
He also expressed gratitude to the concelebrants and the choir and Mr Terry Cloughley, Head of Music at Dominican College who played the organ and conducted in the absence of John Donnelly who is in hospital. He thanked harpist Cariosa O’Harte , the Parish Council, those in charge of refreshments and all who had helped to prepare for this day. The celebration concluded with tea in a packed Parish Centre to the strains of music provided by the Mc Mullen family.