One hundred and fifty years to the day since the dedication of St John’s Church, Laragh, parishioners and friends filled the beautifully restored church for a special celebration service. The Bishop of Glendalough, Archbishop Michael Jackson, presided and preached at last night’s (Tuesday September 19) service with the Rector, the Revd Brian O’Reilly.
Apart from parishioners and friends from across the community, two former Rectors, the Revd Olive Henderson and Canon John McCullagh and the Parish Priest of St Kevin’s, Laragh, Fr Oliver Crotty, were given a warm welcome.
In his sermon Archbishop Jackson looked at the history of St John’s Church and said it was built so that people from the locality could walk to church. Laragh and Glendalough lie in the parish of Derralossary which dates from the 13th century. A subscription was opened in 1843 to build a church at Laragh because of the size of the parish and to be a chapel of ease for the people.
“Today’s church is the fruit of 125 subscriptions. It remains as it was. It has been lovingly and beautifully restored and for all this work I should like to thank and congratulate the rector and parishioners of today for the sensitive and careful work you have done. In a world of encircling cynicism and encroaching consumerism, this church stands as the church built for people to walk to it. It does indeed sound both incredible and impossible but it is true.
“Walking is the new world, even though most churchgoers do not seem to have spotted it. Walking gives time to be together, walking gives time to think, walking gives time to connect, walking gives time to make a community of faith, hope and love, walking gives companionship. And Glendalough and Laragh can lead the way in the twenty-first century too. Walking and pilgrimage are part of the way in which we let the Spirit of God enter into and live within our lives. This is a very new and a very ancient walk with God but we no longer live in the Middle Ages; we now live in the third millennium. Already this church and your rector are paving the way in bringing Glendalough back into the mainstream of pilgrimage in the United Dioceses of Dublin and Glendalough, or rather Glendalough and Dublin, in just after the 800th year of the uniting of these dioceses to one another,” the Archbishop said.
Fr Oliver Crotty and St Kevin’s Parish Council presented a gift to the parish of St John’s of an Icon of St Kevin. Fr Oliver said it was a symbol of the friendship between the two parishes and their people.