Ballinora’s novel Camino marks 200 years of local church

Ballinora parishioners invited Bishop Fintan Gavin to do their mini-Camino to mark the bicentenary of St. James Church.

The parishioners and priest of a parish church which is 200 years old this year came up with a Camino way to mark it and invited Bishop Fintan Gavin to join them.

Ballinora parish on the western side of Cork city was made an independent parish 35 years ago but the Church of St. James is 200 years old.

Bishop Fintan made a pastoral visit to the parish last weekend to mark its milestone and celebrated Mass in the church with parish priest Fr. Declan Mansfield.

The Covid19 pandemic limited options for a parish celebration so the parish created a mini ‘Camino de Santiago’ or St. James Way along the style of its namesake in northern Spain.

Parishioners were invited to walk to some of the historic sites in the parish associated with the area’s faith history. It was followed by an open-air picnic for households in the local GAA pitch. (It, too, is called after St. James!)

Speaking at Mass in the parish, Bishop Fintan Gavin said that celebrating the church’s bicentenary isn’t just about a look back in gratitude and in pride at the faith that has sustained the community over the centuries.

“We also look forward in faith and hope into the future. The flame of faith carries with it both a privilege and a responsibility. It is a great privilege to be part of a vibrant faith community, but we have a responsibility too to bring that faith, intact, active and real into the next generation.”

As the society and church emerges from the pandemic, many things will be different, he said. Part of the challenge is dealing with the shortage of priests to assign to parishes.

“But there is an opportunity for our faith communities to work much more closely together as families of parishes, sharing the gifts and talents, sharing the resources, enhancing one another’s strengths and working collaboratively,” Bishop Fintan said.

“Here in Ballinora and in every parish it will mean developing and strengthening the local leadership to work together with the priests in co-responsibility.

This is your church community – you are not just simply helping the priest.  As we renew ourselves as a Church we are going to be called and challenged to change the way we do things.”

Our diocese is only beginning to work out exactly what that will mean but the people in parishes, along with the priests, religious and bishop will be committed to praying, discussing and planning together over these coming months and years.