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New thinking helps waves of joy spread over local congregations

September 29th, 2021 7:10 AM

By Brian Moore

Fr Pat McCarthy PP Ardfield & Rathbarry, celebrated his final mass prior to his retirement at the St James’ GAA pitch in Ardfield in August

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Beaches and sports grounds gave local religious organisations a brilliant new option this year when it came to finding new ways to keep the congregations engaged, writes Brian Moore

OUTDOOR religious services made quite the splash this summer at West Cork beaches.

The pandemic meant that various organisations and groups had to do serious ‘outside the box’ thinking this year in order to keep things moving.

Religious services were no exception, and on one beach, outdoor events became a regular occurence.

Rev Kingsley Sutton, rector of Kilgariffe union of parishes, moved the usual Sunday service in Courtmacsherry from the church to the nearby strand, 100m down the road.

Danny, Sean, Michelle and John Murphy from Ardfield enjoyed the mass.
(Photos: Martin Walsh)

‘It was a case of needs must,’ Rev Sutton told The Southern Star.

‘With the Covid restrictions our church was just too small and I think everyone was looking for some sense of normality, so we decided to take the service to the beach.’

A mass at the Béal an Aifrinn, Ballycullinane, Courtmacsherry celebrated by Fr Tom Sexton

Rev Sutton held three services, two in July and one in August, on the beach and they proved extremely popular.  He advised people to bring fold-up chairs or rugs to sit on and even a picnic to enjoy afterwards.

‘I was tired after each one, let me tell you,’ Rev Sutton said.

‘But it was lovely to see the congregation, the families and the passers-by gathering on the beach. We had sand castles, paddling and picnics following the service.’

Rev Sutton plays his guitar during a service on Courtmacsherry beach in July

‘The beach service is now an added feature of life in Courtmacsherry and we look forward to getting back there maybe in July again next year.’   

Another religious service that took place this summer was the annual mass held at the Mass Rock at Béal an Aifrinn, Ballycullinane.

‘It was a lovely evening and the weather was perfect,’  said Sister Jane Murphy.

‘Fr Tom Sexton celebrated the mass and especially remembered the late Fr Peter Queally and all that he has done in the past to clear the site and to keep the tradition alive.’ Fr Sexton also thanked Sister Jane and Fr Dave O’Connell for their support and he thanked PJ McCarthy for his commitment in maintaining the area.

Meanwhile, the parish of Ardfield/Rathbarry put on a special outdoor event, to wish their parish priest Fr Pat McCarthy all the best on his retirement after 19 years in the parish.

Fr McCarthy’s final official celebration of Mass was held on the pitch at St James’ GAA in Ardfield.

‘It was a lovely evening,’ Fr McCarthy said. ‘Everything went well and it has been wonderful to serve the people of Ardfield and Rathbarry for the last 19 years. I am only disappointed that I am not being replaced,’ he said, but acknowledged the great support for the event.

Rosemary and Hugo Jones were able to bring ‘Evie’ to one of the outdoor services in Courtmacsherry this summer. Photo Denis Boyle

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