On Saturday evening last St Senan’s Parish Shannon celebrated its Golden Jubilee when the Bishop of Killaloe, Fintan Monahan, was chief celebrant of a concelebrated Mass on the pitch of the local Wolfe Tones GAA Club.

By Fr Tom Ryan, Parish Priest.

On 28th June 1966, Bishop Joseph Rodgers, Bishop of Killaloe, wrote a letter to Canon Patrick Barry, Parish Priest of Newmarket-on-Fergus, informing him that he proposed to canonically create a separate Parish of Shannon and appoint a commission to mark out boundaries of the new parish. Unfortunately Bishop Rodgers died suddenly twelve days later and his death delayed the formal establishment of the Parish.

In the interim, boundaries of the new parish were defined.  The boundaries were to include the airport and all lands under the control of the Development Authority. These boundary suggestions were open to revision in the future, if deemed desirable. The Parish of St. Senan Shannon was created on 16th December 1967, within a month of the ordination of Bishop Michael Harty.

Fr. Tim Mullaly C.C. Nenagh became Parish Administrator and the first Parish Priest assisted by Fr. Eamon Gaynor as Curate.  In the past fifty years, the parish has been served by 22 priests. In infrastructure terms it has built two churches, six primary schools, (five of which are Catholic), two secondary schools, priests’ houses and the Adoration Chapel.  The religious presence in the parish was laid first by the Dominican Sisters and for the last 43 years by the Sisters of Mercy.

Involvement of parishioners in the life of the parish has been an essential part of the growth of this Christian community. Before the Parish of Shannon was established, parishioners took ownership and have worked in harmony with both priests and religious in sharing the Good News of the Gospel.

Shannon Parish is the only Parish of the Killaloe Diocese that the successor of St. Peter has set foot in. On the 1st October 1979 the now St. John Paul left Ireland from Shannon Airport. On his visit he blessed the foundation stone of the soon to be built new church appropriately dedicated as the church of SS. John & Paul.

The past fifty years have seen the growth of this local Christian community in our parish. It was fitting to gather last weekend on Wolfe Tones’ pitch to remember with joy and pride the faith that has fuelled the life of this community over the past fifty years.  We remembered those who lit the flame of faith, those who kept the flame alight and those who provided from their limited financial resources over the past five decades. We gave thanks for the faith, hope and love that has made this parish the great parish that it is today.

Bishop Fintan Monahan, the fifth Bishop of Killaloe to be associated with the parish of Shannon, was the chief celebrant of a concelebrated Mass in which he was joined by priests who served in the parish over the past fifty years, Frs, J Minogue, Peter O’Loughlin, Seanie Murphy, Pat Mulcahy and Tom O’Gorman, as well as Shannon native Fr Fergal O’Neill.

The combined choirs of the parish came together to provide music and song. In addition, Sheamus O’Donoghue, who recorded the story in pictures of the Silver Jubilee, was present to record the Golden Jubilee. An album of the 25th anniversary is currently on display in SS. John & Paul church.

For a parish to be successful, it must have activity. It needs to be well organised and have people with a knowledge of finance. It must have ambition and take risks. Our remembering and our celebrations in this Golden Jubilee Year serve as an invitation to all of  us to prepare the next generation to carry the flame of faith far into the future. In the times we live in despite the challenges of living faith it’s a great privilege to be part of a vibrant parish.