The golden jubilee of Lowertown’s Church of the Seven Sacraments will be celebrated by all the community this Saturday, as they look back on the last 50 years and forward to a bright future, writes Brian Moore
IT is a very special year for the parish of the Church of the Seven Sacraments in Lowertown, Schull.
Celebrations are about to begin as the community marks the 50th anniversary of the first mass at the church in 1967.
‘Preparations for the golden jubilee got underway after we formed a committee in May,’ committee member Ann Power explained. ‘We all worked on getting the church ready. We painted the inside, put in new lighting and we erected a statue of St Francis outside the church. We chose St Francis because he is perfect for a church in such a rural setting.’
It was back in 1966 when the then Bishop of Cork and Ross Cornelius Lucey, laid the foundation stone for the new church, as the old one in nearby Ballinskeagh, was showing signs of its age, having served the parish since 1826. A previous building on the same Ballinskeagh site had its thatched roof collapse during mass on April 17th, 1825, injuring a number of parishioners. Mass was subsequently held in the open air on the hillside throughout 1825, when on one occasion The Southern Reporter, a forerunner of The Southern Star, reported that almost 2,000 people could be seen attending mass – ‘all oblivious to the harsh weather conditions’.
Ann added: ‘We will celebrate a special mass to commemorate the building of the Church of the Seven Sacraments on Saturday, December 2nd at 7.30pm and are extending an invitation to one and all, and hope all those with a connection to the parish will come along to enjoy this special occasion.’
Following mass, the celebrations will continue at the Schull Harbour Hotel where there will be light refreshments and entertainment.
‘We are delighted to welcome the current Bishop of Cork and Ross, fellow West Cork man, Bishop John Buckley, to our celebration. Father Alan O’Leary PP, Father Anthony and clergy from our neighbouring parishes will also take part,’ Ann continued. ‘On the night people will received a booklet outlining the history of our church, a prayer card that we hope people will use on a daily basis and also a special little bottle of anniversary holy water.
‘We have also erected a remembrance tree, on which people have been attaching the names of their loved ones who have passed away and so the mass on December 2nd will be said for all those relatives and friends.’
Local children have also made colourful posters with the theme ‘What does the church mean to me’ and there will be a display of old photos and press cutting relating to the Church of the Seven Sacraments down through the decades.
Some of the notable dates include the first wedding at the church, which took place on February 24th 1968 and saw Neily O’Regan of Corrydorigan and Ann Cadogan, Rathoora begin their lives together.
The local TD, Deputy Michael Collins was the first child to be baptised at the new church and the first and only confirmation at the church took place on May 14th, 1968. The first funeral was that of John O’Regan of Derryleary.
‘Back in 1965 the new church cost £30,000, of which £20,000 was raised by the parish,’ Ann said.
‘The Church of the Seven Sacraments was built to accommodate 400 people and the homily at the first mass was delivered by Fr Jerome Kiely CC, Goleen who said that the church was shaped like three things – a tent, which was apt as God lived in a tent with his people. Secondly, it was shaped like praying hands, befitting a house of prayer, and thirdly like a mountain where God spoke from and it was from a mountain that Christ went back to Heaven,’ Ann said.
The Church of the Seven Sacraments and the Lowertown parish has a special connection with parishes in Peru and the church is also designed with the shape of the churches in South America in mind.
Ann added: ‘This church has long been a focal point for our community and we want to ensure that the future of it, and the community here in Lowertown, is as bright for the next 50 years and beyond as it has been since the first mass was said here in 1967.’