Northern Ireland news

Belfast's oldest Catholic church to officially re-open next month

St Mary's Church will be officially re-opened by Bishop Noel Treanor on December 8. Picture by Hugh Russell
John Monaghan

THE official re-opening of the oldest Catholic church in Belfast following extensive renovation work will take place next month.

Bishop of Down and Connor Noel Treanor will celebrate Mass at St Mary's Church in Chapel Lane in the city centre at 6pm on Friday December 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

St Mary's, where Mass was first celebrated in 1784, has undergone both external and internal restoration since May, with work finishing last month at an estimated cost of more than £300,000.

A notice to parishioners in the weekly bulletin stated: "Traditionally, December 8th is a day that some of our people go to Knock and maybe you could change that this year to another day. Our Lady will understand!!"

New paving has been installed in the popular Marian grotto area, dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes, while a statue of Our Lady has been moved from the parish hall into the refurbished garden area.

Work on the outside of the building has included the complete replacement of the main roof coverings and the repairing and re-pointing of walls and stonework.

The Living Youth building, beside the church in Chapel Lane, was the venue for Masses for two months during the summer after the church was closed to facilitate the work.

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